“My pregnancy was pretty good at first, but I found my second trimester really difficult. Everyone told me I’d feel great and that I’d be glowing, but I didn’t feel like that. I started getting stressed at work. I just felt like I wasn’t coping. I heard about Bluebell Place from the midwives at St Michael’s, and one day I found myself walking there.
When Lucinda opened the door at Bluebell Place, she was so friendly and welcoming that I burst into tears. There were other mothers there and there I was, heavily pregnant and sobbing – it was like I’d exploded. But I didn't feel judged. Everyone was so calm.
Lucinda offered me a cup of tea and we chatted for an hour about my history of anxiety and depression. She was so helpful and caring. When I got signed off work, I started visiting Bluebell regularly. Going there felt like self-care. As soon as I walked through the door, I felt like I could take a deep breath.
The atmosphere at Bluebell is so lovely. There are plants and pictures on the walls which make it feel warm and homely, and you could help yourself to cake and biscuits. As soon as you arrived, the volunteers checked you were ok and offered you a hot drink. Because they’ve been through it themselves, they could really relate to how you were feeling.
When you're pregnant, you can feel like you’re losing your identity. Rather than being you, you’re this pregnant woman who gets unsolicited advice and little comments like ‘Oh, your bump's so big!’ or ‘Your bump's so small!’. People always asked me if I felt excited, but I wasn’t, and that made me feel bad. At Bluebell, it was ok to feel like that.
The yoga at Bluebell was amazing. I’d close my eyes, listen to the music and be guided by the yoga instructor. It was pure peace - I’d almost forget that there was a world out there. Some yoga courses are really expensive but because Bluebell’s class is free, it’s accessible to so many more women.
It sounds ridiculous because it’s something you can do at home, but I loved doing my nails at the Friday pamper sessions. There was something so nice about sitting in a room with other women, just painting your nails and being pregnant and supporting each other.
We wouldn’t necessarily talk about mental health, but if it did come up, it wasn’t a big deal. We’d be having a cup of tea or colouring or doing our nails and it just would weave in and out of the conversation. Often I’d forget these women’s names and some I didn’t see again, but for that hour, they were my support network.
The pregnant women who already had children gave me hope. It was like, ‘Ok, you've got depression and anxiety but you're going through this again, so it means it can be done. I will get through this.’ That was reassuring.
Going to Bluebell after lockdown was different, but still very supportive. When I walked in, they took my temperature, gave me hand sanitiser and asked me to fill in forms. After the scary important stuff was out of the way, it was really nice to be back. I was in tears when I left Lottie in the creche for the first time, but she was surrounded by toys and had the biggest smile on her face.
There were just three mothers and two Bluebell staff. We sat in a circle, two metres apart. It was so lovely to chat and drink coffee for an hour and feel like my own person while the creche team looked after Lottie.
I see Bluebell as one of my biggest supports over the last year. You go through so many emotions during when you’re pregnant and a new parent, and Bluebell offers a safe place for you to get those emotions out. Bluebell has had a massively positive impact on my mental health. It really is an incredible service that they offer, especially as it’s free.”