LAURA Milby suffered crippling post-natal depression after the birth of her first baby, and survived a liver transplant while pregnant with her second - only to suffer the heartbreaking loss of her baby daughter when she was just 37-days-old.

Throughout it all, the Govan mum was grateful to have the support of Home-Start Glasgow South.

“Thank God I had Home-Start by my side. They helped me live again,” she said.

“Without them, honestly, I don’t think I’d have got through it.”

Monday marks the start of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week.

Laura, 38, is sharing her story to let other local mums know that in addition to Home-Start Glasgow South’s clinical services, vital peer support is available in their area through the charity’s network of confidential, trained volunteers.

“Talking about mental health in new mums is still surrounded by such a lot of stigma. It's just not talked about, yet so many women need help,” said Laura, who is now an ambassador for the charity, giving talks and encouraging other mums to seek support.

“After the birth of my daughter Sarah, I was feeling very isolated.

“I put it down to the baby blues, the fact I’d had an emergency section and breastfeeding had been a struggle. But by the time Sarah was almost two, my health visitor noticed I just wasn’t picking up and suggested Home-Start.”

Glasgow Times: Laura MilbyLaura Milby

There are 182 Home-Starts across the UK, supporting local families facing a wide range of challenges including mental health, bereavement, isolation, multiple birth, domestic abuse, financial hardship and supporting a parent or child who have a disability or health issue.

Once a family is matched, their trained volunteer visits once a week for two hours to offer support in whatever way that meets the needs of that family.

Colette Boyle, director of Home-Start Glasgow South, said: “For Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week we are encouraging families to talk about their wellbeing and not be afraid to ask for help.

“We would love to encourage mums who are finding things difficult to take the brave decision to reach out for support.

"Parenting is hard. It can be wonderful, but it can also be lonely and frustrating. We are ready to stand alongside families when they need us most with compassionate, non-judgemental support.”

Laura joined the mothers' group and it quickly became an important part of her week.

“We’d all meet on a Friday for a cup of tea and a chat, and the kids would be in the crèche which meant we could do activities like yoga, crafts, cooking, sewing... all sorts of things,” smiled Laura.

“I looked forward to it. And having a volunteer was just what I needed to help motivate me.

“She is like a mum. We laugh, if I need a cuddle she is there, the kids love her. She is important to the whole family.

"Home-Start helped me take each day at a time and see the positives rather than focus on the negatives.”

Glasgow Times: Laura Milby with her familyLaura Milby with her family

In December 2013, Laura was pregnant for a second time.

“It was very different. I’d had no morning sickness with Sarah, but this time, I was being sick all the time and had to keep going in to hospital for fluids,” she explains.

“It was very scary. I also had very itchy skin, which I mentioned during one of those hospital stays. I thought it was down to the pregnancy.”

However, tests revealed Laura was seriously ill - her liver was failing.

“I got the call at Sarah’s fourth birthday party,” she explained.

“The hospital told me to come in right away, and I remember protesting about leaving my daughter on her birthday.

“They just said, 'this is a life or death situation'. I put the phone down in shock.”

In hospital, Laura remembers feeling disorientated. Her husband David told her afterwards she had no idea who she was, what her date of birth was, or even that she was pregnant

“They said I was hours from death,” she said.

“I was put on the super-urgent transplant list, and incredibly, I was in surgery a matter of hours later when a donor became available. I was very, very lucky.”

Thanks to the skill of the transplant surgery team, both mother and baby survived. But heartbreak was to follow when, at 26 weeks, doctors told Laura and David their daughter’s brain was not growing properly.

Laura was given the option to terminate the pregnancy but she refused.

“I felt I owed it to her to give her a chance at life,” she said.

“After all, if I hadn’t been pregnant with her, I might never have found out I had a problem with my liver.”

Glasgow Times: Laura Milby with her daughtersLaura Milby with her daughters

Baby Kate was delivered by C-section on April 23, 2014, weighing just three pounds.

“She was taken away from me almost immediately,” said Laura.

“They thought she may not last the night, but she survived 37 days. She was a wee fighter.”

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Laura and David celebrated the birth of their third baby daughter, Emma, in 2016.

“When Emma came along, it mended something in my heart,” she said.

“I understood it was okay to love again, after the heartbreak of losing Kate.

“Heartbreak, joy - through everything - Home-Start have been amazing.

"They called after my transplant, which really lifted my spirits, and when I got back to the group, seeing everyone again really helped."

Laura added: "I don’t know what I would have done without them.

"And if sharing my story helps even just one mum to reach out and ask for help, then that’s great. Talking to someone if you’re struggling really helps – it can change your whole life.”