May is both Women's Health Month and Mental Health Awareness Month making this the perfect opportunity to highlight the importance of mom’s and their mental well-being.
Pregnancy is often portrayed as a happy and exciting time, but in reality, it can be a time of mixed emotions and uncertainty. It's important to recognize that women's mental health is just as important as their physical health during pregnancy and beyond. According to WebMd, approximately 20% of women experience some form of anxiety or depression during their pregnancy.
During pregnancy, into the 4th trimester and up until 12 weeks postpartum, women may experience a range of emotions, including anxiety, stress, and even depression. These feelings can be caused by a variety of factors, including hormonal changes, physical discomfort, and worries about the future.
After giving birth, many women experience postpartum depression or anxiety, which can have a significant impact on their mental health and wellbeing. Symptoms may include feelings of sadness, guilt, or hopelessness, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and difficulty bonding with the baby.
Impact of Pregnancy on Youth
It's also important to recognize that pregnancy can even be more stressful and challenging for teenagers and young people who may not have the same level of support and resources as older adults.
Teenage pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of depression and other mental health issues. Teenagers who become pregnant may face a variety of challenges, including social isolation, financial difficulties, and stigma. These challenges can have a significant impact on their mental health and wellbeing.
Impacts of Maternal Health on the Child
A mother's mental health can also have a significant impact on her baby's development, both during pregnancy and after birth. Stress hormones can affect the developing fetus and may lead to outcomes such as low birth weight, preterm birth, and developmental delays. After giving birth, a mother's mental health is still a priority. Postpartum depression can affect the bonding time between mom and baby. Evidence suggests that persistent and severe postpartum depression can increase the risk of adverse outcomes in a child's emotional and social development.
Maintaining Good Maternal Mental Health
Motherhood can be both rewarding and challenging, and it can have a significant impact on a mother's mental health. It's important for mothers to prioritize their mental health and seek support when needed.
Here are some tips for maintaining good mental health as a mother:
Practice self-care. It's essential to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in activities that make you feel happy and fulfilled.
Seek support. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. This can include reaching out to family and friends, joining a support group, or speaking to a mental health professional. Keep your channels of communication alive and dynamic.
Manage stress. Motherhood can be stressful, so it's important to find healthy ways to manage stress. This can include exercise, mindfulness, deep breathing, or taking a break when needed.
Set realistic expectations. It's easy to put pressure on yourself to be the perfect mother, but it's important to remember that no one is perfect. Set realistic expectations for yourself and don't compare yourself to others.
Take breaks. It's important to take breaks and give yourself time to recharge. This can include taking a nap, going for a walk, or doing something you enjoy.
Plan for Postpartum Wellness. “Make a list of things you may need support/help with or a postpartum wellness plan before you deliver – just writing down your priorities can be helpful,” advises Shelle Grimm Freind, RN, BSN, MA, Nurse Supervisor with Acenda’s Nurse Family Partnership program.
Remember that taking care of your mental health is essential for being the best mother you can be. If you're struggling with your mental health, don't hesitate to seek help. There is no shame in reaching out for support, and it can make a world of difference for both you and your family.