Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week is a week-long campaign devoted to talking about mental illness during the perinatal period.
Today we are starting the week with an open, and honest conversation about maternal mental health and perinatal loss.
Buki Hannaway is a Peer Support Worker for our Maternal Mental Health service, she is also someone with lived experience of baby loss.
Her role involves supporting women and birthing people affected by baby loss, tackling stigmas surrounding maternal mental health and assisting families to access the information, care and support they need to recover. Buki is a beacon of hope for many families, living proof that recovery is possible with time.
This is Buki’s story…
“In 2019 I was close to visiting 30 countries before I was 30, many of them I had visited alone. I was a fearless globe trotter who went wherever I felt called to go. I found home in foreign lands, thrived off new experiences and the unknown. I had no idea I would end up working within an NHS setting and my goal would be interrupted, to say the least.
“Nor would I ever imagine that I would have a baby and he would die before he was born. This sentence still doesn’t make sense to me. It is this same space and unfathomable reality that the women our service supports are navigating. I would be lying if I said that this is just a job. This work allows me to bring my son’s legacy with me every day, as I find purpose in the pain.
“I am privileged to offer the support that never existed when it was my time to crawl from under the rubble of a life that stillbirth left me with. The destruction caused by my son’s death impacted every part of my being. My relationship with myself, others, and the world. I felt like nowhere was safe. I couldn’t use my bathroom with the door closed. In the early days, leaving my home was impossible. The fearless world traveller was gone, replaced by a broken woman full of new anxieties and trauma.
“The same person who had walked the bustling streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under moonlight looking for a restaurant to try, feeling nothing but excitement was gone. Baby loss caused me to be so hypervigilant that even the sound of a can rolling on the ground would stop me in my tracks on a Birmingham street.
My partner is a therapist and having used counselling services before meant that I was open to accessing support. Together we were able to find some amazing resources that we could access individually and some collectively with others who had shared experiences.
“Through my own journey back to a version of myself and my professional work I believe that lived experiences being validated and having a space to be with our emotions is a powerful place to start.
“Any type of perinatal loss can be isolating by its very nature.
I see baby loss as the last taboo of grief and encourage all those who face isolation to access support rather than suffer alone”.
Since having her son, Buki has visited another country and is making plans to continue her globe trotting list! She is a role model to the many families she supports across Birmingham and Solihull, a true NHS champion and we are proud to have Buki at Team BSMHFT.
If you relate to Buki’s story, please remember that help is out there. Anyone who needs support around their mental health following a pregnancy or baby loss is encouraged to discuss this with their midwife, health visitor or GP who can share information about all the support available in Birmingham and Solihull. They can all also refer into our specialist team if needed. Unfortunately, we do not accept direct self-referrals.
Published: 2 May 2023