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by Sofia Villegas
20 September 2023
Kate Forbes reveals 'extreme terror' of postnatal depression

Kate Forbes reveals 'extreme terror' of postnatal depression

Former finance secretary Kate Forbes has said she experienced postnatal depression (PND) after the birth of her daughter.

The MSP explained she was unprepared for what “felt like an intense sadness” she “would never escape from”.

Despite acknowledging she had “second to none” treatment, Forbes said talking about her experience could prompt further mental health training for midwives.

Speaking to The Press and Journal, she said she hoped her comments would help break down the stigma, encouraging new mothers suffering from PND to speak out.

“I am absolutely stunned by how little understanding, recognition and perhaps investment there is in supporting women through those first few months after giving birth,” the SNP MSP said.

According to the NHS, PND affects more than one in ten women within a year of giving birth. However, Forbes claimed there “hasn’t been the investment in terms of research or development”.

Forbes' daughter was born last August at Raigmore in Inverness after a difficult delivery.

During the 18-hour-long labour, the politician went “completely white and unresponsive”, resulting in the staff delivering the baby with forceps.

Recalling the day, she said: “You just have that constant sense of fear because you’re in chronic pain, but you also are desperately hopeful that your baby is safe and at certain points, her heart rate plummeted as well”.

Shortly after birth, Naomi was taken to a special care unit due to some “particular concerns”.

“You get that point of huge relief. You’ve come through the fire and then your baby is taken away from you”, the MSP said.

However, on returning home, things “went badly wrong”. Having never experienced “particular challenges with mental health”, she explained, “this was something different”.

Insomnia and “extreme levels of terror” became a burden in her daily life.

“Terror when I was awake and during the day. Fear that something awful was going to happen. I couldn’t really comfortably be anywhere alone in the house for fear.

“But then at night total night terrors of seeing very visibly somebody causing harm to me or to the baby.

“And then just being wracked by guilt, anxiety, intense sadness, and feeling extraordinarily vulnerable and like I’d caused other people huge difficulty; that I’d wrecked their lives,” she explained.

“When you’re in that mental frame of mind, you don’t know what the alternative is. You should be so full of maternal happiness and yet I struggled to hold my baby. I couldn’t bath her because I was scared I would cause harm”, she added.

Forbes admitted that not even the leadership contest was close “to the challenges of navigating those first few weeks with a newborn”.

A week after giving birth, she was diagnosed with postnatal depression, which continued with around six weeks of check-ups, through which her husband, Ali, took care of the baby.

Now, 13 months after going into labour, she is “really enjoying” motherhood and looks forward to the future with her “feisty little independent lady”.

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