Earlier this month was World Maternal Mental Health Day. And we here at Mama Disrupt were saddened when we were reminded that more than one in 10 new mums suffer from anxiety or depression.
Professor Marie-Paule Austin, head of Perinatal Mental Health at Sydney’s Royal Hospital for Women – and lead architect of the Federal Government’s new perinatal mental health guidelines – said that maternal mental health in the perinatal period – from pregnancy to the end of the first postnatal year – was crucial to the long-term health and wellbeing of families worldwide.
“Assessment and care of a woman’s mental health during pregnancy and in the early months following birth, is just as important as other antenatal and postnatal check-ups – and for the most severe cases of depression, lives may depend on it,” Professor Austin said.
So, if you know a new mama – or you are one – who is having a hard time, we spoke to Dr Marcela Martin an infertility, gynaecology and obstetrics specialist, who talks us through 10 things you can do to help.
1 // Look out for the early signs
“If someone shows signs of anxiety antenatally, it’s a good idea to link with a psychologist so they have a place to turn to/a counsellor they know if they do develop post-natal depression or over-prepare.”
2 // Encourage openness
“Encourage women to be open with their doctor or encourage someone to come with you for support so you are encouraged to start the conversation.”
3 // Don’t compare yourself
“Don’t follow Instagram ideals and be aware how ‘prepared’ those visions are.”
4 // Stay active
“It’s a good idea to incorporate mums’ and bubs’ exercise where possible.”
5 // Keep talking
“Discuss your thoughts with your partner and discuss concerns with doctor in front of your partner so safety tips can also be discussed amongst everyone.”
6 // Reach out to the “the village”
“Build a ‘family’ network, even if they are not blood relatives. It takes a village.
7 // Learn to delegate
“If possible, delegate to friends/family/hired help to lend a hand with cleaning, cooking and so on to get through the toughest weeks.”
8 // Take power naps
“Have power naps antenatally to get used to your new ‘normal’ sleep pattern that emerges in the third trimester – don’t fight it.”
9 // Try and let go
“You can’t plan the first six weeks with a new baby like you do your career – you can’t timetable this journey.”
10 // Plan not to plan
“Don’t overcommit to others during this time, you have enough on your plate.”
If you think you might be depressed or you’re worried about a friend, speak to a health professional immediately or reach out to PANDA (Perinatal Depression and Anxiety), beyondblue or SANE Australia.