KATE Forbes has shared the “intense sadness” she felt as she opened up about her experience of postnatal depression. 

In an interview with The Courier, the MSP and former Scottish finance secretary said she was “not particularly relaxed” having worked up to a day or so before going into labour.

Forbes gave birth to her daughter Naomi in August last year and she has now spoken out about her experience.

She explained how she was in labour for around 18 hours and that she started to lose a lot of blood which led to the room beginning to “fill immediately with lots of staff”.

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She said she went “completely white and unresponsive” and that her baby had to be delivered using forceps.

“You just have that constant sense of fear because you’re in chronic pain but you also are desperately hopeful that your baby is safe and at certain points her heart rate plummeted as well”, Forbes added.

Returning home

The MSP (below) remained in hospital in Inverness for a few days after the birth before she was allowed to return home.

She explained: “I have never, over my lifetime, had any particular challenges with mental health. We all have highs, and lows, and periods of difficulty, sadness, grief or anxiety, but this was something totally different.

“To start with, I had insomnia, complete insomnia. I couldn’t sleep a wink. I couldn’t nap. I went days on end being unable to sleep. That was accompanied by quite extreme levels of terror.

The National:

“Terror when I was awake during the day. Fear that something awful was going to happen. I couldn’t really comfortably be anywhere alone in the house for fear.

“But then at night total night terrors of seeing very visibly somebody causing harm to me or to the baby. And then just being wracked by guilt, anxiety, intense sadness, and feeling extraordinarily vulnerable and like I’d caused other people huge difficulty; that I’d wrecked their lives.”

She added that she “struggled to hold my baby” and that she was unable to bathe her because she was afraid she might cause her harm.


Forbes shared her feelings with her midwife and was quickly diagnosed with postnatal depression.

She revealed she received counselling and support from her wider family, saying she didn’t think her husband “had ever seen me in that kind of state”.

Following those difficult months, Forbes has said she is “absolutely determined” to enjoy being a mother as much as possible.

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However, she said she wants to remove the stigma around postnatal depression.

“I am absolutely stunned by how little understanding, recognition and perhaps investment there is in supporting women through those first few months after giving birth.

“While it is quite a common issue, some stats suggest one in 10 women suffer from PND, some go up to 50%.

“Despite that actually there hasn’t been the investment in terms of research, development and so on.”


Signs of postnatal depression vary but can include:

  • A persistent feeling of sadness or low mood
  • A lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world
  • A lack of energy or constant feeling of tiredness
  • Withdrawing from contact with others
  • Difficulties looking after yourself and the baby

Anyone experiencing these symptoms is encouraged to speak to a GP, midwife or health visitor as soon as possible.

You can read more information on support via the NHS website HERE.