Struggling with your mental health can be very scary, particularly for new and expectant mums.

The NHS delivered over half a million babies in England last year. For many people, welcoming a new member into the family is a positive experience, filled with immense joy, excitement, and happiness. But it’s important to note that not everyone has such a smooth experience adapting to pregnancy and motherhood.

It is estimated that up to one in four women are affected by perinatal mental health problems, covering a range of conditions including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and postpartum psychosis.

There are many reasons why new parents find it hard to reach out for help, but speaking out is a sign of strength and a way of looking after yourself, and your baby. Peer Support Worker for our Perinatal Mental Health services, Sobhia Mahmood knows this struggle all too well.

Below, Sobhia bravely shares her story as someone with lived experience of postnatal depression, and how, with support from our partners, Acacia, she, and her family have gone on to live happy and healthy lives.


“The year 2011 will forever be etched in my memory as the year when my life changed forever. I went through a complicated pregnancy and birth, and when my beautiful daughter finally arrived, I was hit with a wave of emotions that left me feeling completely overwhelmed.

The truth is, postnatal depression can happen to anyone, regardless of whether they have experienced complications during pregnancy/ birth or their background or circumstances. It is a condition that can affect any new mother and can have a profound impact on their life and the lives of their loved ones.

When we finally left the hospital and came home, I was constantly anxious and scared that something might happen to her. Every time my daughter cried, it would trigger my anxiety. I was so worried about being judged by others, especially since mental health is such a taboo topic, let alone postnatal depression. It seemed like everyone around me had it all together, while I was falling apart inside.

I needed help. A close friend told me about Acacia, a free mental health service that supports Birmingham residents experiencing pre and postnatal depression/anxiety.

I couldn’t cope anymore so I picked the phone up and rang Acacia. I just cried on the phone, Rachel Gregory, Perinatal CBT Therapist at BSMHFT who is one of the founders answered – within 24 hours of that phone call a new service (group work) was set up! Their unwavering support, care, and kindness gave me the strength to face each day. With their help, I learned how to manage my anxiety and take care of my daughter in a way that was healthy for both of us.

Sobhia's newborn

It takes courage to ask for help, and I wish I had reached out to more people sooner.

I cannot express how much my work with Acacia means to me. I have been a volunteer for many years, and now I’m a Peer Support Worker on a honorary contract working for the Specialist Perinatal Mental Health team at the Trust. I feel like I have found my true calling.

After receiving invaluable support and care during my own struggles with postnatal depression, I knew I had to give back. I wanted to help other mothers who might be going through the same difficulties that I had experienced. Being a part of such a dedicated team of individuals who are committed to making a real difference in people’s lives has brought me an indescribable sense of fulfilment and purpose. I am so grateful for the opportunity to give back and to help support families who are dealing with something similar.

If you are struggling, please don’t suffer alone. There are teams out there who can support you.

If you are struggling with your mental health following the birth of your baby, it’s okay, if you are not okay. Our Perinatal Mental Health service provides a safe, high quality, family friendly, mental health service – including assessment, treatment and care for women suffering from psychiatric disorders associated with pregnancy and childbirth.

Please visit our website page for more information on how to access Perinatal Mental Health services.

Sobhia's baby girl smiling