Eating well is particularly crucial throughout motherhood from conception right through to nursing and beyond. Below are some useful tips that could help balance nutrition and provide optimum energy levels:
· Eat wholefoods – wholegrains, lentils, beans, nuts*, seeds, fresh fruit and vegetables and avoid refined, white and overcooked foods
· Balance blood sugar levels – by eating ‘little and often’ and avoiding sugar and stimulants such as coffee, fizzy drinks, sweets, biscuits and alcohol.
· Healthy Fats - Eat healthy fats found in salmon, sardines, sunflower, hemp and flaxseeds; walnuts, almonds and brazil nuts*. Minimise saturated fat found in many processed foods, meats and dairy products.
· Eat foods containing Zinc - haddock, green peas, egg (always cooked not raw when pregnant), shrimps, oats, almonds, ginger root, pecans, lamb chops, turnips
· Eat foods containing B vitamins – mushrooms, watercress, broccoli, cauliflower, alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes, bananas, cottage cheese, chicken, salmon
· Keep hydrated – drink plenty of water, herb teas and diluted fresh fruit juices
* avoid all nuts if you suffer from nut allergies or if you and your first child have any type of allergy.
A huge thank you to Caroline Spurling for this necessary information!
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and self-driven recovery
The first step on the road to recovery is to be formally diagnosed as having OCD by a Mental Health Care Professional. Following this, OCD sufferers have the option of pursuing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) including Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) either privately or through the NHS. CBT is recognised by NICE as the treatment found to be most effective in treating patients with OCD. It takes hard work and dedication to complete CBT, but the rewards are most certainly worth the effort. Most sufferers respond well to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Thankfully, the NHS can provide OCD sufferers with CBT, the advantage of this being that treatment is free which is important for most, the downside is that limited funding within the NHS can sometimes result in long waiting lists and limited care. Others opt for private therapy but having to pay for therapy is not always an option and it is extremely important to be sure that it is CBT that is being used and not another type of talking therapy. In both cases it is important to ensure that the CBT Therapist has experience of treating patients with OCD as CBT is used widely to treat a range of different disorders. A well trained CBT therapist will help you through your recovery. This is often not easy when you are in the midst of anxiety so finding an ally in your recovery such as a friend or relative can be very helpful. Here are a few pointers to help you get the most out of CBT and help yourself along the way:
· Go prepared for your initial assessment
When you attend an initial assessment, or begin CBT, take along some notes outlining your current issues. Details such as the type of obsessions you are experiencing, compulsions you are carrying out and end goals you have can help your Therapist greatly and will save valuable time in sessions. Your Therapist will go through these details with you but it can be helpful to already have thought them through before you attend your session.
· Communicate with your Therapist
It is vitally important that you communicate with your Therapist, discussing progress, problems or any areas of concern that you might have. With a limited number of sessions allocated you need to ensure that you are getting the most out of your therapy. If you do not feel that therapy is progressing as you had hoped it would, then discuss this with your Therapist so that you can determine what is causing any such issues. You are also allowed to take an audio recording device to record the sessions - this will act as a reminder of the session.
· Ensure that you are committed to completing homework set
CBT can be an excellent therapy but for most it is not a quick fix or magic cure. The sufferer needs to work hard at their CBT homework between therapy sessions to ensure that progress is made. Your Therapist will guide and support you through CBT but it is up to the individual to undertake the challenges. The more you practice, the greater your chance of recovery!
· Read NICE Guidelines (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence)
NICE Guidelines set the standards for high quality healthcare and are used by the NHS so please reference these guidelines to ensure that you are receiving the best possible care. You may not feel up to researching these guidelines yourself, in which case, ask someone close to you for support in doing this.
The guidelines detail standards which could be of use to you such as:
‘During pregnancy or the postnatal period, women requiring psychological interventions should be seen for treatment normally within 1 month of initial assessment, and no longer than 3 months afterwards. This is because of the lower threshold for access to psychological interventions during pregnancy and the postnatal period arising from the changing risk–benefit ratio for psychotropic medication at this time’
(CG123 Common mental health disorders – Issued: May 2011)
‘OCD and BDD can have a fluctuating or episodic course, or relapse may occur after successful treatment. Therefore, people who have been successfully treated and discharged should be seen as soon as possible if re-referred with further occurrences of OCD or BDD, rather than placed on a routine waiting list.’
(CG31 Obsessive-compulsive disorder – Issue date: November 2005)
All NICE Guidelines can be found at http://www.nice.org.uk/.
· For private CBT only
Most patients can self refer to a private therapist without seeing a GP first. As a suggestion, ring a local Priory (private healthcare provider) to check this.
· Learn about OCD
Learning about your OCD, and understanding that OCD is an illness that you can recover from, can make you feel much more empowered and give you the strength you need on your road to recovery. Lack of knowledge about the illness can make it even more frightening and you really can feel as though you are just ‘going mad’. Understanding what OCD is and having knowledge of it can make it all seem a little less frightening. There are many books available that can help you gain knowledge about OCD (please see ‘Recommended Reading’ section of this website). Reading about the experiences of others can also help and make you feel less alone (please see ‘Success Stories’).
Knowing what triggers your OCD can also help vastly in managing OCD symptoms. Stress, for example, can be a huge trigger for many OCD sufferers so learning relaxation techniques and knowing how to manage stress in your life can make a huge difference.
· Help those around you understand how to support you
Support and understanding from those around you can make such a difference in recovery. It can be extremely hard and frustrating for loved ones to understand OCD when they have not experienced it for themselves. It is natural for friends and family to want the sufferer to simply stop it but, as we all know, that is just not possible.
Point carers, friends and family in the direction of OCD books, websites and support groups to help them feel supported themselves, and enable them to learn about OCD. This can highlight the part they can play in your recovery - many books and websites also have sections aimed specifically at carers, friends and family which may help:
· Be kind to yourself!!
One of the most important parts of recovery is to remember to be kind to yourself! Keeping yourself as calm and comforted as possible will go a long way towards aiding recovery.
Remember! It is not your fault that you have this illness, blaming yourself for it or beating yourself up about it will not help you one bit! Treat yourself as you would someone who had a physical illness, after all, just because you can’t see mental illness does not make it any less serious or distressing than a physical illness. We all need to look after ourselves when we are ill and having OCD is no different.
Written with thanks by a Maternal OCD Volunteer!