Ruth had a difficult time after she gave birth too. Her son arrived during the height of Covid-19. Her husband wasn’t allowed in the hospital while she was in labour, and after giving birth she had to quarantine in the hospital as there was a Covid-19 case on her ward. When she finally went home, the winter lockdown hit.
“Normally when there is a new baby you have your friends and family around helping with cleaning and cooking, there was none of that”, says Ruth. “We had this beautiful baby we wanted to show off but couldn’t do anything about it.”
Once Ruth’s husband went back to work, she really started to feel the effects of being a new mum in the pandemic. “I was at a point where I was feeling really isolated and alone, I couldn’t speak to others about how I was feeling.”
After seeing an advert for Breathe Melodies for Mums on social media she signed up for the classes, which were online at the time due to the pandemic. She began to feel the benefits almost immediately. “Singing is an endorphin hit just like exercise,” she says. “It helps you with your mental health. I always felt better after Breathe Melodies for Mums no matter how I felt at the start. It broke up the same monotonous daily routine of changing nappies, feeding, and putting my baby to bed.”
Whilst reducing symptoms of PND, group singing through Breathe Melodies for Mums is also linked with enhanced well-being and self-esteem in mothers, as well as a greater increase in mother-baby closeness and a greater reduction in cortisol levels (the stress hormone) than other mother-baby interventions.
This effective intervention has huge potential as a treatment tool and Breathe Arts Health Research and King’s College London are in the process of conducting further research on the scaling up of Breathe Melodies for Mums with a view to embedding it in clinical pathways, strengthening the case for longer-term funding. The hope is to build a case for these singing groups to be available nationally through the NHS, so more new mothers experiencing poor mental health can benefit.
As Jenny says, “if you could reach the goal of making it standard for all women to get this kind of support that would be amazing. I would recommend it to any new mums. People don’t realise how powerful the arts can be for your mental health.”
Try Breathe Melodies for Mums to reduce symptoms of PND for yourself
If you’re affected by any of the issues in this article, and you’re based in London with a baby aged 0-9 months, you can join Breathe Melodies for Mums. Their 10-week London programme starts in October 2022. Participation is free.