Happy Maternal Mental Health Month everyone! If you follow me on Twitter you may have a heads up that I plan to post everyday during May because it’s Maternal Mental Health Month. I will be posting stories, tips, inspiring quotes and thoughts on being a mom and caring for yourself. Today is Day 1.
What is maternal mental health and why is it important? Maternal mental health refers to the mental and emotional well being of women during pregnancy and after having a child. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, panic, stress, overwhelm and sadness are all common for mothers to experience. Often they suffer in silence, isolated and putting on a happy face when around others. A mom might make a small comment about how hard motherhood is around another mom or a friend while simultaneously smiling and laughing as if it is a joke. Motherhood is not easy and emotions can be effected by everything from hormones and sleep deprivation to lack of correct nutrition and environmental stressors.
This month is vastly important in opening up the conversation about maternal mental health and lessening the stigma around it. Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders such as Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Anxiety, Postpartum OCD, Postpartum PTSD and Postpartum Psychosis are more common then one might think. 1 in 7 women experience Postpartum Depression. It is widely considered the number one complication of childbirth and yet, most birth and baby preparation classes do not talk about it. Imagine spending the better part of a year preparing for a baby only to feel completely unprepared when you are blindsided by a Perinatal Mental Health issue. It is different than “baby blues” but is often written off as such so the mom continues to suffer, believing there is something wrong with her that she can not “snap out of it”. The one thing correct in that thinking is that there is “something wrong”. The mother has a very common illness that can be addressed and DOES GET BETTER (the best news a mom can hear).
So, the next time a mom makes an off handed remark about how hard it is to have a baby. Ask more questions. Ask how she is sleeping, if she’s eating and who helps with things around the house. Ask how you can help or pick a specific thing you are comfortable with and offer help. Raising a child takes a village and so does making sure that child’s mom is healthy. Healthy mom = healthy baby. Being healthy starts with how you think and feel as a mom. It’s more important than how you look. And it can get better. 🙂