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Post-natal nightmare of ex-Peak Practice star

Saskia Wickham, formerly of hit rural medical drama Peak Practice, has revealed her post-natal depression nightmare.

The 36-year-old mother of two suffered after the birth of her first child Alexandra, now two. She says: "I was always sobbing for some reason but I didn't know I had post-natal depression. I felt guilty as I thought I should be wonderfully happy to have a new baby, but I was miserable."

Saskia, who stars in ITV1 drama William And Mary tonight, endured the condition for six months. She says: "I had a difficult labour and an emergency caesarean and then I got mastitis.

"I had all the happy hormones during pregnancy but they disappear three days after birth. In the old days, all the family helped but now you're expected to get on with it."

But she didn't tell director husband Bob Bierman she endured the illness until after she had recovered.

She says: "I remember crying in the loo but I never told him that I felt awful. I lolled round in my pyjamas feeling low and wishing I could be put in hospital and someone else would look after my baby Alexandra.

"I remember when I hit the cot to stop me hitting her. I was frustrated as she wouldn't stop crying."

Fortunately Saskia says she hasn't suffered in the same way since giving birth to second daughter Kitty four months ago: "I had counselling before Kitty was born as I was worried about post-natal depression. I also paid someone to help me after the birth.

"It was great when Kitty was born, I immediately loved her but I felt guilty about not having the same feelings when Alexandra was born."

The actress was eight months pregnant when she filmed a nude scene in William And Mary. She plays mother earth character Jemima, one of the patients of midwife Mary (Julie Graham) who's desperate to have a natural birth.

She says: "There's a scene where I am naked in a garden, squatting by a tree about to give birth. It was a bit embarrassing but we had a female crew and a closed set."

William And Mary marks something of a TV comeback for Saskia after taking time off in the last two years to have children. She was a household name as Dr Erica Matthews in Peak Practice until five years ago. She first shot to fame as the heroine of the BBC's Clarissa in 1991.

Later this year she stars as the widow of a policeman in BBC1 drama Waking The Dead.

Teletext, March 2003