Giovanna Fletcher opens up on maternal mental health on Dirty Mother Pukka

31 March 2022, 09:00 | Updated: 5 April 2022, 11:31

Dirty Mother Pukka episode six: Giovanna Fletcher joined Anna Whitehouse for this week's episode of Dirty Mother Pukka.

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Giovanna Fletcher has opened up about maternal mental health in an emotional episode of podcast Dirty Mother Pukka.

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The author, podcaster and presenter, who is married to McFly's Tom Fletcher, told Anna Whitehouse that she started experiencing post-natal depression after giving birth to her third child Max in 2018.

Giovanna, who is also mum to sons Buzz, eight, and Buddy, six, said she thought she would 'breeze into' her third, but that she struggled to juggle her work and family life.

Giovanna Fletcher joined Anna Whitehouse for Dirty Mother Pukka episode six
Giovanna Fletcher joined Anna Whitehouse for Dirty Mother Pukka episode six. Picture: Heart

"Work-wise, things were far bigger than ever before, far more demanding. I was definitely living a life where I wasn't 9-5, I was literally on all the time," she said.

Giovanna went on to describe a moment when she felt 'overwhelmed' while in London for her six-week check with baby Max.

"There was this fear, almost, of how do I make this work? It felt like suddenly my two worlds were colliding in a really overwhelming and scary way."

Giovanna added that, while she was never diagnosed, she thinks she was suffering from post-natal depression.

She said that she was able to mask how she was feeling, adding: "We function. We know how to make it look to the people who come over to check on us, whether that's family and friends, whether that's the health visitor, we know how to make it all look ok."

Dirty Mother Pukka is hosted by Heart's Anna Whitehouse
Dirty Mother Pukka is hosted by Heart's Anna Whitehouse. Picture: Heart

When Anna asked how she was able to mask her feelings, she said: "I'm a do-er. You come round, I'll sort you out. Everything will be clean. I keep doing. That is my mask, I think.

"And what I've realised more and more is that I don't often let that out, I don't often share. Because I don't want to speak and for someone to feel like they have to give me an answer. I don't need anyone to fix me, all we ever need is for someone to listen and to acknowledge how we're feeling."

Opening up about her experience of maternal mental health issues, she continued: "There have been certain points where my mind has felt like it's completely against me... it's not just after the third child. I have always been the most maternal person with any friendship group growing up, I was the one asking how people were. I was the one making sure everyone was ok. All of a sudden I have a baby, and just caring for this little individual. It felt like the biggest responsibility ever.

"I wasn't sure I was up to the job. I had these thoughts of 'I've made a mistake, I can't do this'. Other thoughts throughout the years of 'I'm not good enough. I'm not good enough and they'd be better off without me'.

"Which are really scary thoughts when these little people are the ones you care about more than anything, and you know that your love means the world to them, and their love means the world to you."

She continued: "It's talked about a lot more in terms of maternal mental health, and I'm so glad that we talk about mental health and we talk about maternal mental health because they are such different things.

"And I don't believe it's a case of it happens in the first year and then it goes. I think it's a ride that us mums are on. And it's so important to talk and it's so important to acknowledge."