By Nicole Fuge, MD® Managing Editor
A mother’s mental health in the perinatal period – from pregnancy to the end of the first postnatal year – is crucial to the long-term health and wellbeing of families.
Because we all know that mums are the glue that holds it all together.
It’s also true that those first days/weeks/months of becoming a mother are hard AF. And we need as much support from our tribe as possible to survive this season.
So we spoke to Dr Marcela Martin an infertility, gynaecology and obstetrics specialist, who talks us through 10 things you can all do to help better a new mum’s mental health.
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.