Wednesday  May 1st 2019 is Paint Your Bump Day #pyb2019 in aid of Maternal Mental Health Awareness

16% of Irish women will develop a mental health problem in pregnancy or in the postpartum period.

44% of Irish women report having experienced anxiety in early pregnancy (Mammi Study)

25% of Irish women report having experienced depression in early pregnancy (Mammi Study)



Twitter Maternal MH @maternalmh

Our message is to support women in the transition to pregnant women and to motherhood. We would like to dispel the myth that women just switch from one to the other effortlessly. We would like to start a conversation about the everyday struggles of being a mother. We would hope that as women start talking it gives more women permission to do the same. Our ultimate wish is to raise awareness in this area and support women and their maternal mental wellbeing

Who WE are:

This initiative is starting with 2 women and we hope we will be joined by many more…

Fran Buckley


Fran is a Mum of 2 beautiful children. She is a qualified counsellor and her passion is working in the area of Maternal Mental Health. Fran recently trained as a pregnancy Yoga Teacher.

The idea of painting your bump came about from Fran’s own experience on her first pregnancy. She painted her bump towards the end of her pregnancy and for Fran it was about honouring her body for nurturing her baby and to also capture the end of the pregnancy and the beginning of a new chapter in Fran’s life.

On her second pregnancy she included her daughter often in decorating and painting her bump she felt it was a way for her daughter to create a bond with their new sibling.

Fran’s personal experience of becoming a mum fuelled this campaign as she found the transition was quite a shock! And looking back Fran can see the campaign was a way for her to get support around her own transition to motherhood.

This campaign for Fran is about getting rid of this idea that we as women make this seamless transition into motherhood. She believes that a happy mum will equal happy children. And her wish is for women to have the space to talk about how they truly feel in a non-judgemental space.

Fran feels self-care has a pivotal role in our mental health and her wish is for women to give themselves a break, to be a good enough mother as there is no such thing as a perfect mother. To go gentle on themselves on this wonderful, challenging, exhausting, exciting journey called motherhood.

#self-care #goodenoughmothering #pyb2019 #maternalmhmatters



Elva Glynn

I am a mum and am also a Counsellor working in Galway city  and online. I am passionate about working with mums and for all mums to have the best possible mental health we can. I think it is so important when we are raising our children.

Fran introduced me to painting bumps and I felt it was a wonderful experience for all mothers to have in pregnancy. We both agreed that pregnancy was at the core of the maternal experience and felt strongly that woman needed to nurture their mental health. We both felt that Painting a bump could help a woman consider her maternal mental health as important and that we could start a conversation about the myths associated with this huge transition into becoming a mother.

I have personal and professional experience of Maternal Mental Health and this was my personal driver to get behind the campaign. I am very passionate about advocating for mothers having an open non-judgemental conversation about the transition to motherhood. In my professional experience it is striking the amount of woman that feel they have no safe place to discuss the trials and tribulations of being a mum, and I would have felt this personally also. There is so much fear that if I speak about how I truly feel then I will be judged.

Therapy offers this space but my question has always been why is there a stigma around anything difficult with being a mum and this for me includes fertility and pregnancy. In my experience huge amounts of shame and guilt are felt by mums if they are anything but what they perceive as perfect.

In this digital age I feel all of this can be amplified by social media. I really want to dispel this myth that any part of being a mum whether children are present or not can be difficult at times and having an open and honest conversation about this is key to getting the support you need.

Support is vital and I feel I have watched so many woman find it difficult in silence with Maternal Mental Health issues and the everyday struggles of being a mum. I am in therapy to process what my experience has been and I do feel that this has and can be a very lonely time for women. Its time to be real about our experience and to seek help without shame if that is necessary.






Would you like to get involved?  We could really do with more help!

Email maternalmhawareness@gmail.com




I’m Laura, the artist behind QuaintBaby Ultrasound Art (www.quaintbabyart.com), wife and mum of 3 young kids, living in Dublin. I’m proud to be a brand ambassador of #pyb2019 for Maternal Mental Health.


I can completely relate to the reality that becoming pregnant, going through pregnancy, birth into motherhood is a hugely challenging transition, particularly in the first 18 months of each child’s life. No matter who you are or where you’re at in life before getting pregnant, the journey into and through motherhood is vulnerable time on so many levels.. It can be wonderful, but it’s undoubtedly tough on so many levels, not least physically, mentally and emotionally. I found I’ve never been more tired and overwhelmed, yet grateful and content at the same time. The whole experience can lead to some serious self-doubt as we (women in particular I think) can tend to focus so much on our baby and less on ourselves.

I have painted baby ultrasounds for many many parents who have been through a vast range of emotions, adventures during pregnancy and parenthood (the good and bad), and capture it all as a beautiful piece of art.. It’s their experience, their baby and their masterpiece after all! I think we experience it all so differently, yet as parents we’ve all got so much in common but so much is not said day to day, even to our closest friends or family. Labels, stereotypes or Instagram-perfect myths can skew our perspectives. I find being honest, open to support and taking good care of ourselves as mums can really help someone to survive the transition from pregnancy through motherhood. And that’s what #pyb2019 is all about.

At first, I questioned a lot about whether I enough to be a mum, did I have enough and even into motherhood .was I doing enough? These thoughts are natural enough to experience, but when they rattle around in your mind a million times in isolation it’s not good. Finding my ‘village’, reaching out for support, and looking after my own self-care have been invaluable to get through it all… and still is. No one, no matter what their background, pregnancy or motherhood experience is

I found I had completely different experiences on each pregnancy, particularly when I zone in back on my mental health. For me, painting my baby’s ultrasounds was a way to connect with each pregnancy and capture that experience. I can see in each painting how different I felt on each one.

For example, on my first pregnancy, everything was so new.. It was exciting but equally daunting. In addition, there were reduced movements and growth so I was scanned regularly, riding a rollercoaster of anxiety and relief until she arrived safe in our arms. This was the experience that started me painting ultrasounds – capturing the joy in pregnancy, but equally the tough times, which then almost seemed to pale into insignificance as you then switch gears into motherhood.

Adelaide’s scan showing her leg was painted in bold bright pink .. to capture the joy of her little self kicking away despite the clinical and my own concerns.

Second time around it was entirely different. We were delighted to add to the family,  but the morning sickness in early pregnancy and struggles of parenting a toddler while pregnant, and with a colicky newborn after a traumatic birth, naturally took their toll. Tiredness can make you want to hibernate to conserve energy, but this can be isolating. Yet Lila’s scan was painted with colourful dots like jellybeans.. She was nicknamed her our ‘little Lila bean’, and her painting symbolises our journey through pregnancy and the early years, dotted with tough and yet happy times as I came to grips with being a mother of two under 3 years old.

Support came from family and the “village” I built with other mums… friends and people who I met through crèche, mum and baby mornings that have now become friends for life. It can be as simple as a phone-call, being given a chance to rest, exercise away from it all, or just getting together with the kids, talking and being there for each other that can make the world of difference to maternal mental health.

I then knew better to mind myself and my mental health during pregnancy no.3.  During the pregnancy I was having a tough time at work, I knew I needed to boost my mental resilience for the coming months of pregnancy and arrival of our third child. My employer at the time offered 6 free and confidential counselling sessions with an external service – a really positive thing to offer all employees regardless of why they might need the support. We’re all expected to manage careers and family life effortlessly, but it is hard to, and that image of perfection can wear you down. It’s ok to not be ok, and taking that care of my mental health certainly helped me cope and make the transition to being a mum of three.

I think this relief shows in Eoghan’s scan painting.. To me it’s more peaceful and content and symbolic of the importance of reaching out for support. There’s his little hand reaching out (as he still does to chance his luck for a snack or bottle of milk) but I see myself in his gesture, feeling better about motherhood because I learned to reach out myself. There is no shame in this. The investment in participating in these counselling sessions in pregnancy and indeed investing in several more sessions thereafter at AnCuan was one of the more sensible self-care choices I have made in pregnancy & motherhood.

So often women prepare for birth with finding the ideal stroller, nursery room furniture, and equipment but we all often neglect number 1 (that’s you btw!). With these self-care sessions,  I found I coped better during pregnancy, birth, nurturing a newborn alongside parenting other children. As result, the birth of our son and parenting experience thereafter were more positive than before.  You might find this same sense of well-being from a relaxing break, frank and honest chat with friends, accepting help with childcare or making dinners, taking exercise, a mindfulness class or going for an amatsu or beauty treatment… whatever works for you is best. I wholeheartedly agree with the term ‘Happy Mum., Happy Baby’.

I’ve also learned that none of this preparation would guarantee I was immune from stress, anxiety or even pre or post-natal depression. But I feel stronger and my maternal mental health is the priority – the same way an airline advises guardians to place their own oxygen masks on themselves before placing on their children’s’ masks.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d never been more sleep deprived, busy, still having the ups and downs of daily life with a young family but I feel I’ve acquired the tools to cope, or at least know where to get support if it all feels too much at times.

There is so much more to my life and indeed my family’s life, than what I’ve recounted here. It’s a small but important part of my pregnancy and motherhood experience. Overall though it’s been amazing, albeit exhausting but coloured with great memories, happy kids, following dreams and living as fully as we can while a bit tired and giving it our all. There is no shame in talking about our vulnerabilities as mums and I’d love to see more women sharing their thoughts.

This last part is SO So important. In a nutshell, that’s why I’m proud to support the #pyb2019 campaign. We all need to talk to each other about these things.. Have the conversation and really mean it when we ask each other How Are You, Whats on Your Mind?  It’s all too easy to ask how ‘bump’ is or to coo over the baby once born.. But mums need all the support and self-care they can get to survive the tough times and stay mentally, emotionally and physically strong too.  It does take a village after all.. And going to a #pyb2019 might just introduce you to yours.

Laura Steerman

March 2019


Brand Ambassador

Brona English



I am delighted to announce I am now a proud ambassador for @maternalmhawareness
and @quaintbaby_ultrasoundart will be painting my bump soon to raise awareness for maternal mental health but for now would like to take this opportunity to #bustamyth about bonding.

Becoming a mammy of two in the coming months is a little disconcerting. My bond with Oisín didn’t come immediately. I didn’t experience the “magical moment” I had imagined. At the time I felt guilty as he was very much a wanted baby. The bond was something I expected to happen instantly.

For some mothers, bonding can take days, weeks or months. For me this was gradual. We just needed to get to know each other. I’m not someone who believes in love at first sight. Sure my husband is testament to this. It took me about two years to give @darren.english a chance 😂 My love for Oisín is like no other now. Its difficult to put into words. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for him.

Exhaustion, a traumatic birth, being separated from Oisín straight after the birth and for 2 nights due to a special care admission, frustration with breastfeeding not going to plan and post natal depression are all reasons for not bonding straight away. Who knows, for some mothers there is no reason. Everything could go well this time round and the “magical moment” might still not happen.

However, I know what to expect this time. I am looking forward to meeting this little one and getting to know them. I have a big heart and I’m sure it will flourish to love another baby just the same.

If you’re reading this and struggling to bond with your baby, or due to give birth soon. In my opinion the “magical moment” is a myth, not bonding straight away is normal and very common. Its not spoken enough, postpartum is not a fairy tale and the expectation for things to go smoothly is not a reality. However, I promise it will all work out in the end. If it didn’t work out, I wouldn’t be pregnant with number 2 now would I?

Did you get that magic moment or did you’re love grow as time went by? I’d love to know I’m not the only one.

#maternalmentalhealthawareness #maternalmentalhealth