Young mum Lettie shares her story of being pregnant at 17 and her advice for other new mums.
I found it really hard being pregnant at 17. You’ve got this big baby bump and everyone is staring at you. You just feel people are judging you because of your age.
I felt everyone had left me.
At first it was: “Oh my God you’re pregnant!” Oh he’s so cute!” and then they disappear. Your lives are suddenly so different, and you don’t seem so fun, so it’s common for teens and young mothers to feel quite isolated.
Feeling him moving inside me though was amazing, and going for scans and seeing him there was so exciting. It’s really hard to describe, but you just can’t beat that feeling.
My family are really supportive and said that whatever decision I wanted to make was fine with them. I was adopted, and my mum had no experience of being pregnant, so we were basically winging it.
When my baby was born, Zac, we were in hospital trying to work it all out, saying: “Why is he doing that?” You’re thrown in at the deep end, hoping for the best. I was naive and scared to ask questions.
My advice for anyone having a baby
I’d say to anyone having a baby – make sure you ask if you’re not sure of anything, do your research and be prepared for anything to happen.
I went into pre-term labour at 29 and 31 weeks and got pre-eclampsia at 39 weeks. I had sepsis twice, got very ill and was bed-bound.
My family looked after my babies and I don’t really remember much as my brain blocked a lot out. I had to go back to theatre twice and ended up in intensive care.
It makes it harder to initially bond with your baby when you’re ill. I have a damaged immune system now so often catch everything going, and I need to be really careful about looking after myself.
I wasn’t told about other things that could happen to you when you’re pregnant
I had no idea. I was told to look for bleeding, check pains in my stomach and always check the baby’s movements. I used to poke his bum or back and see what was happening!
I just thought you went into hospital, had a baby and then went home.
No one tells you what the birth’s really going to be like or how you’ll feel afterwards.
There’s also a big gap in talking about mental health
I put off speaking to my GP about my depression until after my third baby but first started to struggle when my son was born over two years before.
I thought it was really normal after having a baby to get very low and then be on top of the world the next moment. You know, baby blues.
But then I got more downhill – suicidal – and I knew it wasn’t normal. I get a rollercoaster of mood swings, insomnia and anxiety – lots of emotions in one. Now that I’m diagnosed and have medication I feel more calm. I have a brilliant GP.
I’m supporting Our Chance because I want more mums to talk about mental health and get good support quicker.
Find other girls and young women in your situation
Locally at parents’ groups or on social media channels here. Talk about concerns and find someone who has been in your situation.
They can say: “It happened to me, you need to do this or that.” It’s really helped me.
Sharing your own stories gives people more comfort than you can know.
Also trust your instincts if you don’t think something is right. Get it checked out and get proper advice. Don’t scare yourself by trying to look things up on Google.
After the first two babies the last one was plain sailing. Now Zac’s 4, Henry is 3 and Elsie is nearly 17 months. Zac starts school in September and I’ll probably cry a lot. I’m really excited for him.