Midwife reveals how she overcame postnatal depression that 'took away two years of her life'

Nasra Hagi (pictured recently) is 'at the happiest time of her life' after overcoming postnatal depression. (Supplied: Nasra Hagi)
Nasra Hagi (pictured recently) is 'at the happiest time of her life' after overcoming postnatal depression. (Supplied: Nasra Hagi)

A former midwife has revealed how she overcame postnatal depression that "took away two years of my life".

Nasra Hagi, 34, from Birmingham, says she was "at the peak of her life" when she became pregnant with her son, now seven.

Hagi's pregnancy was "awful", with nausea throughout. The mother-of-two's mental health took a further turn for the worse when a 20-week scan revealed her son had a rare heart defect, with medics even suggesting she consider a termination.

The scan flagged that her son had Ebstein's anomaly – when the valve on the right side of the heart does not develop properly, which can cause blood to flow in the wrong direction within the vital organ.

The right ventricle, which pumps blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen, may also be smaller and "less effective".

"That was the moment my life changed," says Hagi. "I started to develop anxiety. My mindset changed."

Against the odds, Hagi gave birth to a fit and healthy son – her "little miracle" – however, her mental health continued to deteriorate and she endured postnatal depression for two years, which left her "feeling like a failure".

"Postnatal depression took away two years of my life," she says. "I went from being a confident woman to feeling like a failure. There were days I could barely get out of bed and my whole body would ache. I had no energy, I was tired all the time.

"The additional responsibility of caring for a baby, and on top of that having to work, was like being hit by a ton of bricks.

"I didn't even know who I was anymore," she tells Yahoo UK.

.Before Hagi became pregnant, the midwife was "so happy with herself".

"I was at the peak of my life," she says.

'I am at the happiest time of my life'

Hagi's GP referred her to various counsellors, who "helped a little bit", however, the new mother still felt in the dark about her depression. "At 1am, breastfeeding, I didn't have the right equipment to gather my thoughts and deal with my own thinking," she says.

"I needed to understand how things work in your thinking pattern."

At the end of 2017, Hagi came across a quotation by NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) co-founder Richard Bandler – "there are no failures, only feedback".

"When I saw that, it was like he was talking to me," she said.

Read more: Headache with coronavirus linked to depression post-infection

Not offered by the NHS, NLP is "the practice of understanding how people organise their thinking, feeling, language and behaviour to produce the results they do".

After enrolling on a short course, Hagi's mental health quickly improved. She later trained to become an NLP practitioner and is now "at the happiest time of her life".

Hagi (pictured while enduring postnatal depression) 'hit rock bottom'. (Supplied: Nasra Hagi)
Hagi (pictured while enduring postnatal depression) 'hit rock bottom'. (Supplied: Nasra Hagi)

More than one in 10 women endure postnatal depression within a year of giving birth, with fathers and partners often affected too.

More than just the "baby blues", postnatal depression can leave mothers feeling persistently sad, withdrawn and even struggling to bond with their newborn.

Read more: Magic mushroom compound as effective as antidepressant

Singer and presenter Stacy Solomon recently opened up about her postnatal depression on journalist Bryony Gordon's Mad World podcast.

"I have moments with Zachy [her eldest] where I think 'Oh, I wish I loved you from the very minute'," said Solomon.

"Not that I didn't, I'm sure I did, I just didn't feel it and I didn't get it, and it brings me tremendous guilt."

The NHS recommends affected women or men speak to their GP or health visitor.

Therapy and antidepressants can be effective. Patients are also advised to open up to loved ones, make time for things they enjoy, rest as much as possible, eat well and exercise regularly.

Read more: Hallucinogenic drug trialled as depression treatment

Since overcoming her depression and training as an NLP practitioner, Hagi has founded Recognize, offering "antenatal and postnatal coaching".

"If untreated, perinatal problems can lead to worsening mental health and even suicide," says Hagi, whose postnatal depression fortunately never became that severe.

"I was only too aware as a midwife or nurse there simply weren't the resources available to tackle perinatal wellbeing.

"Recognize is my response to years of frustration and concern."

Hagi's postnatal depression prompted her to delay having another child by five years, but she gave birth to her daughter two years ago.

The mother-of-two believes practising NLP meant she did not endure postnatal depression again.

"From where I was at that time, I am [now] healthy, I eat well, I am a very powerful woman," she said.

"I hit rock bottom and now I am at the happiest time of my life."

Watch: Male postnatal depression often missed