Rachel was 19 when she found out she was pregnant, and 20 when she had her son Thomas. We asked Rachel about her advice for other young mums, her experience with post-partum psychosis and her favourite moments with Thomas – here’s what she told us…
My advice for other young mums
My message to young mums is to make sure you seek advice from professionals – it’s invaluable. Make sure you get as much help in place as possible and try and sleep when the baby is sleeping.
My health visitor has been brilliant and I have made sure that I have listened to all her advice and accessed the services she’s put me in touch with.
I also found it really difficult at first to accept that my baby’s father wasn’t going to be around and that I was going to be on my own with a baby. It was really hard but I had to move on – it’s made me a stronger person.
A routine is also very important and being organised for the day and especially night is essential.
What I wish I’d known before I was pregnant
If I knew about the services and how important it was to talk to people about how I was feeling then I think I would of enjoyed pregnancy a bit more.
Also with giving birth, I found it important to try and be patient and be honest about the feeling of baby and also the emotions you are feeling. Also to mentally prepare yourself for pain and following instructions.
My experience with post-partum psychosis
Shortly after Thomas was born I was diagnosed with post-partum psychosis. I began having delusions, hallucinations, very bad thoughts. I was very erratic and I couldn’t stay still. I knew I wasn’t well.
I called my health visitor, explained what was happening and she called an ambulance.
I was admitted to my local hospital, where I stayed for three days before they found me a place in a specialist unit. Thomas and I spent two months there before I was discharged home, with ongoing support and medication.
How to keep your independence as a mum
Obviously having independence is something that all mums dream about but I would definitely recommend to remain patient and try and get your child into a nursery or ask your friends or family to help out as much possible.
The journey wasn’t easy, but I made it – the support I got along the way was a big help. Gingerbread — a charity for single parents — helped me to work out what it was I wanted to do, and helped me with things like writing my CV and filling out application forms. They are little things but can be a big help.
My favourite memory with Thomas
Obviously there have been many memories that Thomas has given me but I would say when he started crawling, holding his own bottle and walking. It was a very proud moment.
My tips for things to do with your baby
Me and Thomas have a great time together, when he was younger I would take him to many children’s centres and get involved with church groups.
Now he has grown up, I tend to take him to nursery and also take him to see other people and soft play. We also go to the park and swimming when it’s nice weather.
My ambitions for the future
My ambitions as a single mum are to continue working, to make sure that I complete my studies and achieve my potential, and to get a career that will complete my dreams.
I’m doing an Open University degree in health and social care and working for a care and support organisation. Thomas goes to nursery or my parents, or friends help out with childcare too.
More advice from young mums like Rachel
There’s loads of advice about being a single parent on our blog, including this video from single mum Linda on how she manages child care as a single parent
Also have a look at these blogs by other young mums: