On the latest episode of Laura Dockrill’s Zombiemum Podcast, writer and founder of Make Motherhood Diverse, Candice Brathwaite, opens up about her experience of motherhood and mental health.
Whether she is modelling the latest bold fashions during her regular appearances on the style segment of ITV’s Lorraine show or allowing us a sneak peek into her homelife on Instagram, Candice Brathwaite’s vivacious personality and bright smile are never far away. However, during her chat with Laura Dockrill on the podcast, Candice bravely spoke about her struggles with childbirth and motherhood, a topic that she is very passionate about.
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While birthing books and classes may go some way to helping new parents on the parenting journey, the reality is that nothing can quite prepare you for the realities of motherhood, particularly when so many Black women go through unnecessary trauma during childbirth – and its aftermath. Laura Dockrill’s Zombiemum Podcast is among a number of new platforms helping women to speak up on the challenges of motherhood with hopes of creating a safe space for conversations on mental health and parenting.
On the latest episode, Candice Brathwaite, opens up to talk about post-natal depression, childhood traumas and how an idealised view of motherhood on social media can cause harm. Here are the highlights from this very candid conversation with Candice.
Trigger Warning: This article includes quotes on abortion, suicide and post-natal illness as featured in this podcast.
On The Traumas of Child Birth
Pregnancy and childbirth can be two very different experiences depending on how a woman’s mind and body reacts to the changes that are happening. For Candice, there was a sudden shift in her mental health after the birth of her daughter, Esmee.
“Even though it was a really blissful pregnancy, I was really scared but all my fears were rooted in providing. I had a really terrible birth and ended up getting really sick and separated from Esmee for the first six weeks which was horrible. Although I did get sad about it, I knew from this point we would do everything to make sure this was her darkest moment because I didn’t want to feel this energy again. Esmee is an embodiment of that confusing dark time. My therapist told me when babies are born that they have these synapses in their brain and they need their mum’s scent to keep them alive. Those synapses are always going to look for their mum and always be waiting for their return. At just six years old, Esmee needs to know my itinerary at all times.”
On Suicide and Post-Natal Depression
Candice’s own mother struggled with mental health and suicidal episodes which she witnessed in her early childhood. Her grandad also dealt with depression and mental health issues throughout his life. “My grandad – who is the man that raised me – admits that he gets depressed all the time and it’s a real thing,” says Candice. “He is 80 but has really forward views on mental health which is very important to see in the Black community. When the blues crept in after having Esmee, I was like I know what this is. After six weeks I went to my grandad’s house to see Esmee and she just kept on screaming at me. But when my mum picked her up, she was quiet. That very obvious rejection made me realise that things were going to get bad. I just couldn’t be bothered to do anything, I couldn’t be bothered to wash, interacting with Esmee was like my idea of hell. I was having mad intrusive thoughts. Everything was so magnified that I just couldn’t enjoy my child or my day at all. I felt embarrassed. I felt like I failed.”
On Writing ‘I’m Not Your Baby Mother’
In 2020, Candice’s debut book ‘I’m Not Your Baby Mother’ was published and it is a very honest exploration of motherhood and mental health. “I knew what it was like to fall pregnant and have to purchase books from America because Black Britain had not published a singular thing by a Black woman on motherhood. This book transcends race. I want women to know that the way you were mothered doesn’t define your version of motherhood. It’s important to mother from a place of abundance.”
Listen to Laura Dockrill’s Zombiemum podcast episode featuring Candice Brathwaite below.
* Candice’s comments have been condensed for brevity.