Can a cup of coffee cure Postnatal Depression?
Posted on April 24th, 2017
Have you felt those moments of pure self-doubt, wondering why on earth you had made this choice, whether it was possible to love this child enough, too much, in the right way – whether it was going to be as perfect as you had been led to believe?
For some of us, those moments come and go like waves, crashing against the shores of our relationships, and the things that hold us steadfast. Thoughts of being unworthy, unable, can sneak up in the middle of the night, silently and without warning, and make that ever-elusive sleep harder to find. Again, for some of us, those weeks pass and fade in to our memories as some hard nights, some moments of fear, but gone as we become more confident, more comfortable in our vulnerability, and have strategies that work for us to deal with moments and feelings of inadequacy.
For some mums though, their thoughts stay, ruminating, invasive and damaging. They cast shadows over the happiest of times, and can endanger the very thing they love the most – the family they have created.
Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) tells us Postnatal Depression and Anxiety occurs in all cultures, and in women of all ages. It can happen after the first baby, all babies, or only one. It can be mild, moderate or severe, and can be a devastating illness. Up to 1 in 10 women, and 1 in 20 men may experience PNDA. There are a range of different symptoms that are worth discussing with your doctor if they last for more than two weeks, or if you’re concerned. You can check out PANDA here for more information and support, if you’re worried for yourself or a friend.
These are very serious themes for a Kid Friendly Cafe blog, but when I heard about Mumhub, and how they’re fighting their Postnatal Depression one coffee at a time, I had to learn more about them. Renee and Stevie are two first time mums who connected using the power of social media. They shared their mental health and breastfeeding struggles and forged a friendship that has led to the creation of Mumhub, an Instagram and Facebook platform where they share stories, coffee and brunch dates, and reviews of cafes all over NSW North Coast, as well as other places that they find themselves together.
I really related to Renee’s story, as she shared with me that she had moved to a new area while she was pregnant – and I moved to a new city when my little man was 6 months old. I remember so vividly putting on my new lipstick, organizing myself and little man to turn up at a playgroup – that had unexpectedly moved to another location for the day. To say I was upset was an understatement, the ‘big girl knickers’ that I had put on to get out the door that day had taken some serious energy and self-talk. My wonderful husband answered the phone and cleared his schedule for an hour in his busy new job to meet us for a coffee – and made sure my makeup wasn’t wasted! I felt so vulnerable in my new surroundings, and although that was only one experience among many in a new town, when Renee told me that she had lost her circle of support when she moved, I found myself nodding along in agreement.
In the time I spent getting Renee a little better, she said that both she and Stevie found themselves “angry, irrational, snappy, moody, and our personalities would come out at the most inappropriate times. So many thing change when you have a child (especially your hormones) and you don’t have the time to really prepare for motherhood, even 9 months doesn’t cut it. So what do you do… you either wing it or like Stevie and I you fall into a false sense of reality which felt like we were letting everyone around us down, including ourselves”
Renee and Stevie would make dates to meet each other, and cancel. They realised that they weren’t feeling how they thought they would be, and tried to help each other, but as they were really in the same place – although different experiences of it – Renee told me that they weren’t able to support each other.
Renee shared with me that after the birth of her son, what she felt was different to what she expected. She said that she loved nothing more than “to feel worthless, unwanted, not needed (but needed every second of the day by my ball and chain baby) but alas when things got to the point where I actually scared myself and was scared for my son I thought that was it, I needed help”.
Stevie had also sought support and got some professional help and medication. Renee told me “Stevie was very aware that her feelings were out of character and wanted to seek support to get back to the old Stevie. She told me that she often felt disconnected from her son and her world, and there was a bit of relationship sabotage”
Through their openness, and their bravery in seeking support when they needed it, they were able to talk about what they needed from each other, and they came up with Mumhub. Their love of food led them to review cafes and restaurants around the Northern Rivers to see whether they are mum and bub friendly. They feel, and hope that providing this information encourages other mums to leave the house feeling confident in knowing what the cafe/restaurant has to offer. Renee said it also keeps them accountable, to share their stories and reviews with their followers every week. “Our Instagram feed is more than just coffee though. It is an outlet, something that gives us motivation and we aim to inspire other women going through similar tough times! …We drag our bums out of bed and connecting with each other, you and most importantly our babies!”
At Kid Friendly Cafes Australia we love hearing about how people enjoy getting out and about to cafes with their little ones in tow, and we want to celebrate cafes that make it easy to do that. The other, and sometimes more important side of that, is that breaking down barriers to make it easy for mums (and dads) to attend, could result in less social isolation. Mumhub say they’re “curing Postnatal Depression, one coffee at a time”. We say that if it works for you to get out, to find people who are going through something similar, to share, to connect, to feel supported – we love it, and we are so glad we heard about them.
Want to be part of it? Mumhub are on Facebook and Instagram. They’re also doing something that we think is wonderful – they’re organising a meet up! We wish we were closer, but for those of you in oe near the Northern Rivers, it promises to be a fantastic event. A morning is being arranged at the Eltham Pub. It was scheduled for the start of April, but it had to be rescheduled due to flooding. They have over $1500 worth in prizes donated from local businesses (everything from beauty, hair, manicures, chocolates, coffee, restaurants even teeth whitening). They are selling raffle tickets before and on the day for $5 each of 3 for $10 with all money being donated to Tresillian.
Head over to the Mumhub Facebook or Instagram pages to get up to date details and to RSVP.
Please make sure you let them know whether you’re going. We would love to her all about it!
If this has made you think about your situation, or that of a friend, we encourage you to seek support. You could do that through PANDA, your GP, or BeyondBlue.
I loved getting to know Renee, and felt privileged to spend some time hearing her story, and Stevie’s.
I hope you did too.