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Shining a Light on Maternal Mental Health

May marks the observance of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, a time dedicated to shedding light on the emotional well-being of mothers during pregnancy and postpartum. While the arrival of a new baby is often associated with joy and happiness, it's crucial to recognize that many mothers face challenges that can significantly impact their mental health. From hormonal changes to sleep deprivation and the pressures of motherhood, the journey to parenthood can be fraught with various stressors, making it essential to prioritize maternal mental health and consider treatment options like therapy and medication.

Understanding Maternal Mental Health:

Maternal mental health encompasses a range of emotional experiences that mothers may encounter during pregnancy and after childbirth. These experiences can include mood disorders such as postpartum depression (PPD), anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and in severe cases, postpartum psychosis. Despite the prevalence of these conditions, maternal mental health concerns are often overlooked or stigmatized, leading many mothers to suffer in silence.

Did you know 1 in 5 women will experience a Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder (PMAD)?

Drop off some snacks that mom can eat while home with a new baby.

Factors Impacting Maternal Mental Health:

Several factors can influence a mother's mental health during the perinatal period.

  1. Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels during pregnancy and after childbirth can contribute to significant struggles with depressive and anxious symptoms like tearfullness, obsessive thoughts and even rage.

  2. Lack of support: Birthing parents who lack adequate support systems, whether from partners, family, or healthcare providers, may feel overwhelmed and isolated in their caregiving role.

  3. History of mental health issues: Pregnant people with a history of depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders are at a higher risk of experiencing maternal mental health complications.

  4. Socioeconomic stressors: Financial difficulties, housing instability, and other socioeconomic factors can exacerbate stress and impact a mother's mental well-being.

  5. Birth-related trauma: Complications during childbirth, traumatic birth experiences, or unexpected outcomes can lead to feelings of fear, guilt, and anxiety.

Did you know that the clinicians at Sage Tree Therapy treat birth and pregnancy trauma along with fertility concerns?

Raising Awareness and Breaking the Stigma:

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month serves as an opportunity to destigmatize discussions surrounding maternal mental health and promote access to resources and support for mothers in need. By raising awareness, we can help create a more supportive environment where mothers feel comfortable seeking help and accessing the care they deserve.

Let's keep talking about it! This is how we break the cycle of shame that comes with trying to figure out how to be the 'perfect mom'. Tell your daughters and nieces and cousins and anyone who will listen what's really 'normal' when it comes to motherhood! For example, that it's not our job as new moms to take care of a newborn 24/7 AND keep a spic and span house AND cook all the meals AND take care of existing children and spouse. No one person should be doing it all.

Ways to Support Maternal Mental Health:

  1. Encourage open conversations: Foster an environment where mothers feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns with you without fear of judgment or stigma.

  2. Provide practical support: Don't wait for moms to ask. Offer assistance with household tasks, childcare, or meal preparation to alleviate some of the burdens faced by new mothers.

  3. Educate yourself and others: Learn about the signs and symptoms of maternal mental health disorders and share this knowledge with others to promote understanding and empathy.

  4. Advocate for policy changes: Advocate for policies that improve access to maternal mental health services, including screening, treatment, and support programs.

  5. Prioritize self-care: Encourage mothers to prioritize self-care activities that promote mental and emotional well-being, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and seeking professional help when needed.

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month serves as a reminder of the importance of supporting the mental health of mothers during pregnancy and postpartum. By raising awareness, breaking the stigma, and providing support, we can help ensure that all mothers receive the care and resources they need to thrive emotionally and mentally as they navigate the journey of motherhood. Let's work together to create a world where maternal mental health is prioritized and supported year-round.

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