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Tackling postnatal depression among black women

PICTURED: Simone Riley and her daughter, Baye

DJ SIMONE Riley is keen to raise awareness of postnatal depression among women after giving birth.

The radio presenter for Legacy 90.1FM was particularly motivated to be an advocate for this cause after her own tumultuous pregnancy.

“My pregnancy was extremely traumatic,” says Riley. “I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, carpal tunnel, pre-eclampsia, and discovered I was a sickle cell carrier. I was admitted for an emergency C-section which made me very sad as I was not expecting this.”

The ups and downs of her pregnancy didn’t end there. After giving birth to her daughter, Baye, she was so affected by post natal depression the she “couldn’t even touch my own child.”

“I had no idea postnatal depression existed prior to the birth of my child. I had heard of baby blues but it was only when I had dark thoughts of taking my own life that I realised something was not right and I immediately went to seek help.”

Postnatal depression can affect 1 in 10 mothers, and Riley believes it’s extremely important to educate mums and women in general about the risks and signs of postnatal depression.

“It is imperative that mothers are educated on the condition and the signs to look out for,” she says. “Also for the fathers to have an understanding of PND and how they can provide a support network for new mums is extremely important.”

“That’s why I decided to tell my story with postnatal depression in order to inspire other women and let them know I battled with depression after childbirth but I came out of it stronger.

Through telling her story, Riley hopes to help other mothers realise its ok to share their story and not fear judgment from others. “I want other mothers to realise it’s ok to say you are not coping and that people will applaud you for being brave and not judge you."

With plans to launch a special report for postnatal depression and BAME women, Riley says: “As a black woman, I was brought up never to chat my business - to be strong and resilient.

“Once I spoke out about my experience of post natal depression and to hold my hands up and say I was not coping, more mothers in the BAME community have thanked me for being so brave and having the courage to seek help.

“A crucial result of my experience has been learning that women should also focus on loving themselves,” says Riley.

“A happy child is a happy mum - once the mum is happy, the child is going to be happy – that has been my motto for anyone going through PND. Help is out there you do not need to suffer alone.”

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