Black Maternal Mental Health Week - Toyin Adeyinka | Our blog

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Black Maternal Mental Health Week - Toyin Adeyinka

Black Maternal Mental Health Week organised by The Motherhood Group is committed to raising awareness, highlighting disparities, providing resources, and breaking cultural barriers in Maternal Mental Health for Black Mothers, and birthing people. Toyin Adenika, Expert by Experience Co-ordinator shares her story to raise awareness.

My name is Toyin Adeyinka, I was born in the UK and describe myself as British mixed African.  I'm the Expert by Experience Co-ordinator for the Maternal Mental Health Services (MMHS) that are currently being in developed in South East London. I also Chair Lewisham's Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP). The role as chair led me to my role in South London and Maudsley. 

I'm a mum of one. I have experienced baby loss and this is one of the areas MMHS will support women and birthing people and their families. My losses were traumatic in different ways. A few months after having my son I was diagnosed with postnatal depression and Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  The PTSD had nothing to do with my maternity journey or my baby losses, but it did reawaken some trauma that hadn't been dealt with. 

I think it's important for women and birthing people in particular to understand in this context, that trauma from the past can also impact on your mental health during your maternity and parenting journey. I have been fortunate to have brilliant support that has really stopped me from taking paths that would have caused more harm. 

I appreciate that not everybody has that. Some of us come from cultures where mental health is not spoken about and with it being Black Maternal Mental Health Week, those of us are from African, Caribbean and mixed heritage backgrounds, these issues can be even more complex. This can lead us to feeling ashamed, isolated and feeling like that will of course contribute to poor mental health and attachment issues with our babies, children and other loved ones.

As someone with lived experience who is in permanent recovery, I want others who read this and relate, to understand, yes, it's hard and you will have good and bad days but with the right support you can heal. If you are struggling, talking with your GP is a start. 

I know there can be fear that asking for help means that people will judge you as a bad parent, or that it will lead to social services but asking for help is the best thing you can do for your baby. A mother taking care of herself and getting the help she needs is doing the best thing for her children. In my experience, professionals have been kind, understanding and helpful and have helped me to get where I am today. 

There are many online forums - so different to when I had my child, I would suggest connecting with them and children centres who can help with sign posting too. 

Remember you are not alone and no matter your story or your background you deserve to heal. 

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