After an emotionally charged four years of unsuccessful fertility treatments, Toni and Trent fell pregnant with their first child in 2012.

Toni had suffered from anxiety and depression at various times in her life and after the birth of her daughter, Hayley, Toni knew that something didn’t feel right.

Toni said two weeks after Hayley was born, sleep deprivation kicked in and she began to struggle with her emotions.

“It all just became too much—I was feeling emotionally overwhelmed from my emergency caesarean, I had severe sleep deprivation and Hayley was extremely unsettled and I had no idea why,” Toni said.

“I felt that she would be better off with another mother who could look after her properly. I didn’t bond with Hayley properly because I thought I was a bad mother.

“At this point I knew my anxiety was getting out of control and I wanted to do something about it.”

The new mother tried to seek help from various GPs but Toni was told there was nothing wrong with her and that she was just sleep deprived.

Five weeks post-partum Toni called 13HEALTH and told the nurse on duty of her concerns. The nurse arranged an assessment for Toni and Hayley at the Prince Charles Hospital, where Hayley was diagnosed with Cows Milk Protein Allergy (CPMA), which was why she was unwell and unsettled.

The Prince Charles Hospital connected Toni with a psychologist that referred her to the Zero to Four Child and Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHS) at the Queensland Centre for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health.

The Zero to Four CYMHS team visited Toni and Hayley at their home and offered Toni a relationship parenting course to help her better understand Hayley’s emotional needs.

“The parenting course gave me a really good insight into the psychological thinking of children and how they develop mentally at each stage. This helped me gain the skills to manage Hayley’s emotional development,” Toni said.

“After a few visits with the Zero to Four CYMHS team, we discovered that Hayley was having some development issues, so they organised speech therapy sessions at the Queensland Centre for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health.

“We still have hard days like most families, but I’m a lot more confident in my parenting techniques than I was before.

“Hayley has a very strong personality so there are still times where she tests the boundaries and has huge meltdowns, but I can handle those situations a lot better now.

“I’d like to encourage new mothers to not give up. If doctors are telling you that nothing is wrong, but you know deep down something isn’t quite right, seek help.”