Motherhood is often portrayed as a time of joy and fulfillment, but the reality is that it can be a challenging, stressful, and sometimes traumatic experience. One of the biggest challenges that mothers face is maintaining good mental health. In this blog post, I will discuss the importance of maternal mental health, the common mental health issues that mothers face, and strategies for promoting good mental health during and after pregnancy.
Maternal mental health is critical for the well-being of both the mother and her child. Research has shown that maternal depression and anxiety can have negative effects on child development, including cognitive, social, and emotional outcomes. Mothers who struggle with mental health issues may have difficulty bonding with their children, providing adequate care, and responding to their children’s needs. Additionally, maternal mental health can have a significant impact on the physical health of both mother and child, as stress and anxiety can lead to a host of physical health problems.
Common Mental Health Issues in Mothers
Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health issues that mothers face. Postpartum depression affects up to 20% of new mothers, and symptoms can include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and guilt, as well as difficulty sleeping, eating, and caring for the baby. Postpartum anxiety is also common and can manifest as excessive worry, panic attacks, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. If you experienced anxiety in depression before pregnancy, you are at risk of developing postpartum depression or worsening existing mental disorders.
Other mental health issues that mothers may face include bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders. It is essential to recognize that mental health issues can occur at any point during motherhood, from pregnancy to the postpartum period and beyond. Personally, I have experienced postpartum depression but also I had been previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder, anxiety, PTSD, and OCD before having children.
Strategies that worked for me in promoting better maternal mental health
There are several strategies that moms can use to promote good mental health during and after pregnancy. These include:
- Seeking support: One of the most important things that moms can do is to seek support from family, friends, and healthcare providers. Joining a support group or talking to a therapist can also be helpful.
- Practicing self-care: Mothers should prioritize self-care activities, such as exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep. It is also important to set aside time for hobbies and other activities that bring joy and relaxation. Self-care isn’t always bath salts and pedicures.
- Managing stress: Stress management techniques, such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, and yoga, can be helpful in reducing stress and promoting relaxation.
- Building a support network: Moms should work to build a support network of other mothers, as well as friends and family members who can offer practical and emotional support. There needs to be boundaries and confidentiality. Be mindful of who you confide in.
- Knowing when to seek professional help: It is important to seek professional help if symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues persist or interfere with daily life or if you begin to have thoughts of hurting yourself or others. If you are prescribed meds, take the damn meds and fuck what other people think about it.
In conclusion, maternal mental health is essential and moms should prioritize self-care, seek support from healthcare providers and loved ones, and know when to seek professional help if needed. I know what it is like to not have support, and also what it is like to have amazing support. Be patient and gentle with yourself. Just know that by taking steps to promote good mental health, you can better enjoy the joys of motherhood and provide your child(ren) with the care and support they need to thrive and that in itself is something to be proud of on top of putting yourself first.
I am rooting for ya mama!