First-time mum from Southsea urges other parents to seek help from Home Start Portsmouth
A FIRST-TIME mum from Southsea who was ‘in a really bad place mentally’ after the birth of her daughter is urging other parents to seek help from a local charity if needed.
Camila Fernandez-Mader, 33, moved to Southsea a few months before lockdown and found that living in a new town, then going through pregnancy and birth in a pandemic, took a real toll on her well-being.
Travel restrictions meant her family couldn’t visit from Brazil and she desperately missed her mum.
She said: ‘Being in a new area wasn’t a huge issue while I was busy working, but once my daughter Charlotte arrived in July 2020, I felt very alone.
‘I wasn’t able to visit friends I’d made in my last home town of Bournemouth. My partner was working hard to build a life for us, so I was home all day with the baby. It was lonely.’
Camila’s health visitor recommended she attend a nurturing programme, run by charity Home Start Portsmouth, where mums meet to gain invaluable support, find friends, learn parenting skills and share experiences.
‘When you’re lonely you feel like you are the only person feeling like this,’ she said.
‘I was surprised to see there were so many new mums also feeling lonely and upset.
‘I’d had a difficult birth and towards the end of my pregnancy I felt quite anxious. Charlotte wasn’t growing as expected so I needed to be induced. By the time I had her I was in a really bad place mentally and emotionally.
‘I had no expectations of the group and how it would help turn things around for me in such a major way. With each session my knowledge and ability to be a good parent grew and grew.
‘Every week we focused on a specific topic on parenting. It absolutely helped me to be a better parent. After the session I’d go home and tell my partner about what I’d learned.’
When the course ended the group felt it left a hole and they all missed it. But two weeks later, they were invited to a picnic by Home Start Portsmouth staff.
She added: ‘It was so lovely to chat to the mums and for Charlotte to play and interact with the babies. We swapped numbers and have met since a few times. A picnic sounds like such a small thing, but honestly it’s made such a big difference to my life. It kicked off the start of a new social life for me and Charlotte, and has given me such a lift.’
To find out more visit hsportsmouth.org.uk.