Lilli Murdoch, Digital Communications Officer at Breathe Arts Health Research recently spoke to Breathe Melodies for Mums SHAPER research programme participant, Maartje, about her experience with the study. Maartje talked to Lilli about what it was like being a new mother and how Breathe Melodies for Mums has improved her mental wellbeing and confidence.
Maartje gave birth last summer (2021) and although the country was starting to normalise slightly after the ongoing effects of the pandemic, Maartje and her husband were very cautious of who they had in the house and around their newborn.
Maartje talks about how it takes a village to raise a child, and how this type of support had already diminished, as Maartje is from Belgium, she didn’t have access to usual family support networks. She told me how she missed just having someone around for a coffee who could hold the baby and give her some respite, even if it was only for a few minutes.
Maartje told me that she has a history of anxiety and that she also experienced postpartum anxiety. “I was in the at-risk category” However, she didn’t realise how low she was feeling at the time. She saw Breathe Melodies for Mums pop up on her Instagram feed a few times and thought it looked interesting, but that was it. Then she saw it pop up again and thought “I’ve got to do this”.
The primary aim of the SHAPER research Maartje took part in aims to upscale arts health interventions and make the case for the NHS to fund them long-term. The secondary aim is to build on the evidence that arts health interventions can enhance health in larger group; Breathe Melodies for Mums aims to recruit 400 women and babies for its role in the study. Each participant including Maartje goes through a number of assessments and answers a series of questionnaires on demographics, mental health and social support.