Telehealth helps first time mum to manage health and enjoy parenting again

Mum of one, Ruby, was referred to St John of God Raphael Services after realising she was struggling with the challenges of pregnancy, parenting and impacts of COVID-19.

29 Apr 2021

Bendigo mother Ruby, gave birth to her first born at the end of 2019. She had a difficult pregnancy, involving repeated hospital visits, followed by a traumatic birth. Mother holding baby in woodland area

It wasn’t until towards the end of 2020 that she realised she needed support with her emotional health. 

“I didn’t really realise I was feeling unwell until sometime after my son was born,” Ruby said. 

“I developed type 1 diabetes during my pregnancy which meant that I spent a lot of time in hospital in the build up to his birth and caused me a lot of stress.” 

Ruby says she started to feel better when Milo was about four months old, putting her previous feelings down to a tough pregnancy, sleep deprivation and other common challenges of early parenting. However, the arrival of lockdown and other restrictions imposed by COVID-19 left Ruby feeling low and lacking energy. 

“When lockdown began I started to feel really tired. I didn’t have energy for anything, not even my son who I loved very much,” she said. 

“My husband could see that I wasn’t coping and he reached out to my best friend for support. She called me and encouraged me to call the PANDA hotline, which I did.” 

Ruby was given a list of local support services and decided to visit her GP to discuss what to do next. Her GP referred her to Raphael Services, on the basis that the service specialised in support for new parents and was psychiatry-led. 

“I was referred to Raphael Services for telehealth services and diagnosed with severe postnatal depression and anxiety. Fiona, my clinician, called me once a week and provided me with prescription medication to help me manage my health,” said Ruby. 

“It was really hard at first to talk about how I felt, trying to explain why I felt dark during a time when I should feel joy. 

“Speaking to Fiona over the phone, rather than in person actually helped me. I was so low, and getting dressed and leaving the house to see someone was not something I was able to do. Being able to access telehealth at that time enabled me to open up and be honest about how I felt.” 

Ruby was hesitant about prescription medication but says after to talking to her clinician and understanding how it could help, she felt comfortable with the approach. 

“There’s a lot of stigma around mental health and taking medication to aid your mental health. I realised I didn’t know very much about it and once I had it explained to me I could see how for me, and my wellbeing, that it could be beneficial.” 

Since completing her treatment with Raphael Services, Ruby is feeling the energy and joy of parenting again. Her message to other parents is to reach out and talk to someone.   

“I’ve always adored my son, I love him so much. I just didn’t have the energy to care for him when I was feeling unwell,” she said. 

“The stigma around mental health stopped me asking for help early on, but now I’ve lived through my own experience and have a better understanding of mental health, I want to encourage other parents to get the help they need without hesitating. It really can change your life.”