Izzy Judd: Why I want to help other mums with pregnancy anxiety

Mum-of-two and wife of McFly drummer Harry, Izzy Judd is backing a campaign to give help to mothers-to-be who feel the same. Lisa Salmon reports

One in five women in pregnancy or postnatally will be affected by mental health issues

AT LEAST one in five pregnant and new mothers suffer from mental health problems like anxiety and depression, and celebrity mum Izzy Judd is one of them.

The violinist and mother of two, who's married to pop band McFly drummer Harry Judd, has been prone to anxiety since she was a young teenager, but it escalated during her recent pregnancies.

She found that opening up about her feelings was vital to her mental wellbeing, and wants to help other pregnant women and new mums do the same, so she's backing the baby charity Tommy's Big Give Christmas Challenge to raise funds to create a mental health support service for pregnant women.

Izzy (34), who is now mum to two-year-old Lola, who was conceived through IVF, and one-year-old Kit, explains how she felt during pregnancy, and why she's supporting the Tommy's appeal.

How did anxiety affect you during pregnancy?

"Having struggled with fertility, Harry and I were overjoyed when our first round of IVF was successful. However, devastatingly the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. Therefore, going into my pregnancy with Lola I was incredibly anxious and nervous, not only about having a healthy pregnancy but also the fear around giving birth. Having suffered with anxiety since I was 13, I have over time learned how to manage my symptoms and any time I felt out of control I was mindful to watch out for any signs. I had a constant feeling of anxiety and found not knowing what to expect difficult."

Did you get any help at the time or after your pregnancies?

"I found it helpful to speak with my midwives about any concerns and I quickly learned no question was too silly to ask! I also found hypnobirthing incredibly calming during both pregnancy and birth and would highly recommend exploring this option if you have anxiety.

"Having gone through so much to conceive Lola, I hadn't given the reality of motherhood enough thought. All the practical side of the things like preparing the nursery, choosing the pram etc was covered, but nothing can prepare you for what becoming a mother really feels like. In the early days and still now I practise mindfulness as I find this helps me focus on the moment and it continues to help me with my anxiety symptoms and overall wellbeing."

Why is the support the Tommy's campaign hopes to provide so important for pregnant women?

"One in five women in pregnancy or postnatally will be affected by mental health issues. Despite this statistic, there's more information provided about physical wellbeing than for mental wellbeing. Tommy's campaign hopes to provide a mental wellbeing tool which will provide lots of information and support, something I know I would have found hugely beneficial."

What advice can you give to pregnant women who are suffering with anxiety or mental health issues?

"I think it's very important to have somebody to talk to and not be afraid to open up about your concerns. Hypnobirthing and mindfulness can be hugely supportive and something you can practise each day to help you feel proactive in looking after your maternal health. There was a lovely mindfulness exercise I used which was very comforting and it also helped me to connect with both pregnancies. You simply put one hand on your heart and one hand on your tummy and say: 'May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be calm, may you be safe'. I use this same exercise with my daughter Lola before she goes to bed at night."

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