New mums are able to find out a mine of information about their babies at the hundreds of mum and toddler groups available to them, but the topic of postnatal depression is not usually a subject that is the top discussion over the teapot.
Yet it is an important issue that all new mums should be aware of, and Elaine Hanzak from Frodsham is doing her best to make sure they are.
Elaine, who has written two books about the issue, is a former teacher who first became interested in the issue of perinatal mental health after suffering her own experience of it after the birth of her first son.
She admits: “As a pregnant woman I thought that PND did not happen to anyone like me – I wanted my baby; was happily married; a school teacher and I wrote lists!
“But following a traumatic birth, my son being very ill plus my own high expectations of motherhood, slowly I deteriorated through baby blues, then mild, moderate to severe postnatal depression resulting in puerperal psychosis when he was seven months old.
“I was hospitalised for two months without him.”
After Elaine made a full recovery she was encouraged to write her story to offer hope to others, and in 2005, her book, ‘Eyes without Sparkle – a journey through postnatal illness’ was published and made such an impact that it resulted in her giving up her teaching job to focus on spreading awareness of perinatal mental illness.
In the book, which has received excellent reviews, Elaine gives vivid and intimate descriptions of events in her first hand account of postnatal illness.
During the past 11 years, Elaine has spoken at conferences and events across the UK and her reputation as an ‘expert by experience’ has steadily increased.
“As I shared my story, many shared theirs with me,” said Elaine.
“One common question was what to do if you had PND and wanted another baby.
“My second book Another Twinkle in the Eye – contemplating another pregnancy after perinatal mental illness was published last year.
“It is aimed at both parents and professionals.”
Since having her books published, Elaine has been employed as a PA for a leadership and personal coaching company for a few hours a day, which enables her to continue to get involved in events and support for perinatal depression.
She also attends meetings at the Houses of Parliament for the 1001 Critical Days agenda and attends local meetings to ooking at improving services in this area.
She also keeps to date with national and international research and development and shares regular information through her blog www.hanzak.com/blog
Elaine explained: “My speaking engagements include those aimed at healthcare professionals involved with families with babies and young children; speaking to groups of students such as midwives and mental health nurses; and national events around perinatal mental health.
“I have also been asked to speak at a number of events as an ‘inspirational’ speaker and on April 27 will attend the Cheshire Women of the Year 2016 event, for which I have received a nomination.”
“Perinatal mental illness can have a huge detrimental effect on all the family. I like to be an example of how it can happen and how, most importantly, you can get better,” said Elaine.
“I encourage everyone to be candid and open during pregnancy and with a new baby – if mentally you are not as you feel you should – say so!
“It is an illness, you can be treated and you will get better.