Do you think that women with MH issues should have children?

(58 Posts)
FlowersAndShit Wed 16-Mar-16 08:00:28

I know this may be a sensitive topic, but I'd really like to be a mum. However, I've suffered with depression and anxiety since I was very young and although they are somewhat under control, I highly doubt I'll ever be 100% well.

I'm 25, single, not much of a support network but I have my mum who would help. I have endometriosis and adenomyosis so I'm worried about fertility and leaving it too late.

I've started to think that maybe I shouldn't ever have children, it makes me very sad but I'd probably be a huge risk of PND and I'm worried about how I'd cope with sleep deprivation and my MH issues. I know it's probably a recipe for disaster, but I doubt i'll ever be 100% well, even of medication and having therapy.

What does everyone think?

ICJump Wed 16-Mar-16 08:09:22

If you have support in place and seek treatment them I don't see why not. I didn't have mh issues before birth but got PND after ds 2

NeedACleverNN Wed 16-Mar-16 08:09:38

Only you know what you can cope with.

There is support out there for people who need it such as home start but it isn't a 25/8 thing (which is what having a new born feels like) so it's entirely down to:

Can you cope on your own?

Could you not talk to a doctor or a psychologist for their POV?

Arfarfanarf Wed 16-Mar-16 08:09:53

I think that it depends on the mh and its presentation and also the support network the mum has and how realistic the person is able the challenges and what they have in place to recognise if they need help.
I really dont think it's a yes or no thing.

snickers251 Wed 16-Mar-16 08:14:40

My sil has depression and anxiety but she's still a great mum to 3

I think it depends on the person and like others have said a good support network

crumblybiscuits Wed 16-Mar-16 08:15:02

Some people with MH issues should not have children, no. Others should if wanted. It's completely a case-by-case thing. I have anxiety and depression and always have done but it doesn't affect my children or my parenting. I don't think I would do as well if I was a single parent but that's because my DP is my rock when it comes to my MH issues.
Unfortunately, this is a question you can only answer yourself. I live in fear that my MH problems are genetic and I have burdened my children with this illness but they are also the things that made me sort myself out. Good luck OP.

Ifailed Wed 16-Mar-16 08:16:56

Do you think Women with physical health issues should have children?

GenevaJoey Wed 16-Mar-16 08:17:06

I felt the same when I was in my early twenties, and suffering severely from MH issues. I had discounted the idea of having a child.

However, over the years things have got better for me, I am not cured but I am better, and I met my husband who is very supportive and listens to me, and knows my history. I am now 6 months pregnant with my first child.

Obviously at this stage, I can't tell if this is the right decision - it is very scary, and myself and OH are very concerned about PND and trying to put in support and coping mechanisms to fight against this. We don't have a support network here though, because I live abroad.

Pregnancy has been difficult at times, I won't lie, because it has seen a resurgence of some old anxieties and i have found it difficult to manage at times, particularly in the first trimester. I think I'm ok though, and am coping much better than I thought.

I suppose I'm saying that things do change, and your mind can change with it. I wouldn't do it without my husband though, and never considered it with anyone else. The baby needs someone with their feet on the ground, and I need someone to give me all the support possible.

Good luck. Don't write it off as a possibility.

Spl0ink Wed 16-Mar-16 08:23:58

Hello :waves:

I have suffered with depression for most of my life, looking back with hindsight (I was formally diagnosed in my late 20s).

I also wondered whether I would be well enough to have a baby, as well as worrying whether it would be fair on the baby. My son is now 9 months old and I now have a reason to get up in the morning and I have a little person dependent upon me, so I need to get dressed and smile and sing, even if it's the last thing I want to do.

So for me I can honestly say that being a parent has forced me to step outside my own self-defeating thoughts BUT that doesn't mean at they've gone, and there were times in the early days, and may well still be times again when it felt insurmountedly hard and I felt like it was going to break me a bit.

The key for me was to accept that new parenthood can be very difficult and it can make people with no history of mental health problems feel just as beleaguered. All I can say is that with support, with resilience, with as much self-awareness of your own trigger points as possible, then there is no reason why you can't be a great parent.

Please try not to mourn for something that is still theoretical. Your life may take all sorts of turns that you can't foresee. Good luck x

originalmavis Wed 16-Mar-16 08:28:35

Some peole shouldn't have kids full stop!

If you have support and can manage your symptoms then you should be fine. You are single now, but if you are in a relationship that is stable and supportive then that is a great help too. Being a patent is hard work, it really is. But it's brilliant (most if the time).

theycallmemellojello Wed 16-Mar-16 08:28:45

I think it's good to be prepared in advance. I was a risk of post-partum psychosis, and discussed this with doctors beforehand. I ended up not letting myself be left alone with the baby for the first couple of weeks. Thankfully the threat never materialised, but I'd follow the same procedure again.

Honestly, whether it's ok to have kids doesn't depend on having MH issues but how you deal with them. Some people with MH issues can deal with them in a way that is very destructive to those around them - this is obviously not ok when it comes to kids (or anyone). Obviously anyone can be destructive, but it might be more of a struggle not to be if you have MH issues (in my personal experience). So I think you have to identify if you currently have any behaviours that could be bad for those around you and be prepared to get on top of any bad symptoms/behaviours permanently.

In short, having a depressed mum is not inherently bad for kids. Having a mum who deals with her depression by crying all the time, self-harm, threatening suicide, putting herself down constantly, tricking others into putting her down or accusing them of doing so etc etc - is obviously bad for kids.

whattheseithakasmean Wed 16-Mar-16 08:30:56

I would be concerned that a woman with mental health issues would choose to be a single parent, as I would think a secure, stable second parent would make a huge difference to a child's health, happiness and stability if their mother became seriously unwell.

I now await all the posts about useless feckless fathers, but actually fathers are usually wonderful, strong sources of long term support for their children, just as much as mothers and I think would be particularly important if you can anticipate the mother may have periods of incapacity.

Pinkheart5915 Wed 16-Mar-16 08:31:10

If you are receiving help and have support around you yes of course.

BoboChic Wed 16-Mar-16 08:31:11

It would be inhuman to start denying women children on grounds of MH issues. Most MH issues are rooted in environmental causes. We need, as a society, to face up to those causes. Not to vilify the individuals who react (quite logically) to the pressures they are under.

chelle792 Wed 16-Mar-16 08:33:58

Just out of interest, are you currently having therapy? I'm pretty much working on getting to a point where I feel I can have kids without messing them up

theycallmemellojello Wed 16-Mar-16 08:35:57

FWIW my MH issues calmed down a lot in my 20s and I'm glad I left it til my late 30s to have kids. I get what you're saying about not wanting to leave it too late - but is that really a risk at 25? Has a doctor actually told you that your fertility is likely to be significantly different at 30 or 35 (I'm not familiar with your conditions)? I don't think that worry about timing should be the major reason for having a baby (obviously it is often a factor and that's fine - but it strikes me that it is a major reason for you).

BayLeaves Wed 16-Mar-16 08:38:42

I think the majority of the population experiences mental health issues to varying degrees at some stage of their life or another. If it were my choice, it would depend on the severity, my ability to cope and the support I have.

HackAttack Wed 16-Mar-16 08:46:30

Haven't you posted about agoraphobia? That would be hugely detrimental to a child. Also your previous posts make it very clear you have a dim view of recovery and no belief in being well at any point. I don't know about ever, but it certainly sounds like right now is not a good time.

redexpat Wed 16-Mar-16 08:47:25

Isn't the figure for experiencing MH problems during your lifetime pretty high? We ALL have issues. No one gets through childhood without something affecting them. Not everyone who has a history og depression gets PND, and those who dø are more likely to recognise the signs and get help. I have also known people with MH problems get much better after having a baby. Its a risk we all take, but if no ond did, then we would die out pretty quickly.

SilkObsidian Wed 16-Mar-16 08:47:27

I had social anxiety disorder and agoraphobia in my 20s. Although I was almost recovered and had a full time job when I got pregnant, I found pregnancy hard. Due to severe SPD I couldn't leave house much and I had sickness all the way through which made me very anxious about going out. I returned to my old reclusive ways for 9months and DH was worried!

However, once baby was born I got on top of the anxiety and started going out every day. I did post-natal NCT and this gave me a big group of new friends. It's so much easier to make friends when you all have small babies. I did get treatment for PND but got on top of it early so it didn't affect daily life too much. I find the sleep deprivation hard but I'm more confident now than I've been my whole life.

Have you talked to your mum about this and how much help she would provide?

Belikethat Wed 16-Mar-16 08:49:37

I think it should be your personal decision that hopefully you can plan for at a time when you feel ready. I don't think it's helpful for people should tell you parenthood is wonderful and how much love you feel and you will cope because you have to. Everyone is an individual.

There have been threads on here over the years on how having children has affected people's mental health and asking if you would have children if you had your time again. It is amazing how many posters say they wouldn't.

I think at your age you have time on your side to get yourself well, fit and healthy and you can keep an open mind. I would say having a stable lifestyle and supportive partner are fundamental. I know some women manage perfectly well as lone parents but I would never choose it.

Lagodiatitlan Wed 16-Mar-16 08:59:42

I think ALL parents should think long and hard before starting a family.

What kind of home background will I be able to provide for my children? Can I offer them the support they will need to grow into secure adults? Will I be able to afford it? Do I have a support network that is extensive enough to help me through the inevitable difficult patches? Even if I can cope with a small child will I also be able to cope with a stroppy teen whose behaviour is really challenging?

I think that parents need to recognise that existing problems - poor health, inadequate support networks, poverty etc will not be improved by parenthood. Parenthood is a long term committment. It's not just the cute baby stage. If they are going to be depending on family support has the family agreed to this? Grandparents in their 50s/60s can be very hands on with youngsters - but how will they feel when they are in their 70s and 80s and a difficult teenager turns up on their doorstep?

In the end only you can make the decision. But at 25 time is on your side. Make sure that you - and anyone you will be relying on to support you - go into things with your eyes open.

TheABC Wed 16-Mar-16 09:06:35

Even with your health issues, it's sounds like you still have time on your side. I would focus on yourself and recovery for the time being - babies are emotionally and physically demanding creatures and it's a struggle even when you don't have an illness.

I would not write off finding a partner, either; a good father is worth his weight in gold for the support and happiness he brings. It sounds like you have a lot of love to give and I hope you get to enjoy the family you want to have.

RhombusRiley Wed 16-Mar-16 09:08:54

Hi OP, I think it's a relevant and thoughtful question and very wise to be considering it.

I've had severe anxiety most of my life, with some OCD and depression, and I always knew I wanted children but I did worry. I worried more in my 20s; as I got to my 30s I felt that I was a bit more experienced with my own MH, if that makes sense. I do not think that having MH issues means you shouldn't have children, if they are not really debilitatingly severe, but I do think being aware of it and ready for it can make a big difference.

I agree with PPs preparation is everything - letting all the medical staff you are involved with know about your history, having support lined up, knowing what your triggers or main worries are and having that on your notes, having a plan for what you'll do if you start to feel bad.

I had a traumatic and abusive childhood involving sexual abuse; this was put on my notes along with info about my anxiety and fears about various things. All the staff who helped me give birth, and did the follow-up support afterwards, were understanding and sensitive about it and that really helped. My HV knew from the start I was a worrier and my GP has been on board the whole way too. Being prepared to take meds is also a big plus IME. It is meds that control my anxiety and make it possible for me to have a normal life and be a good mum.

I don't think I'm mum of the year, but I am caring and compassionate, warm and affectionate, set firm boundaries and enjoy being with my DC and they seem to like me. I don't think I'm disastrous.

Also I think MH issues can have a silver lining - they can make you more empathetic and tolerant, more willing to discuss things like this if your DC ever need to, more self-aware which I think can be good things in a parent.

Remember things can get worse after the birth, sometimes because they just do (PND) and sometimes, if your problems stem from a dysfunctional childhood, because having your own child can bring it all back. But if you've got supportive HCPs and are ready to ask for help if you need it, you can get through it.

What you don't want is to be plastering a grin on your face and soldiering on without help when you're actually falling apart. But you don't sound like you are like that.

JammingtonDodger Wed 16-Mar-16 09:10:29

My mother has been ill my entire life (40+ years) with MH issues, and it's hard in many ways, but I've never wished that I hadn't been born ...

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