It is World Maternal Mental Health Day, so let’s talk open and honestly about our postpartum and motherhood journeys. Because chances are what you’re feeling, the mother beside you is feeling it, too.
By Nicole Fuge, Mama Disrupt® Managing Editor
I never knew motherhood would be like this, would feel like this.
Because no one told me.
Because no one truly talks about motherhood to people who aren’t mums.
I thought the hardest part would be sleep deprivation, because all I ever heard when I was pregnant was ‘enjoy your sleep while you can’. But it’s so much more than that.
“Maternal mental health is a major part of motherhood. Talking about it, sharing our experiences, and just knowing we’re not the only ones going through this makes a massive difference.”
I thought being a mum was all nappy changes, sleep schedules, feeding, playing and milestones. But it’s so much more than that.
Being a mother isn’t just guiding the growth of your child, it’s guiding the growth of yourself. In growing and birthing a human, your body has gone through immense change in a relatively short amount of time. That takes some getting used to.
Your mind changes too, and there’s a shift in your emotional state. All of this has a flow-on effect to your relationships with your partner, your children, your family, your friends, and yourself. Once you become a mother, you are forever changed.
Talking about maternal mental health
The biggest challenge for me has been the big emotions – mine. I yell and I feel intense rage. Two things that I never experienced until I became a mother. Shouldn’t it be the opposite? Shouldn’t I have turned into a more patient and loving human? Not the ‘momster’ that I feel like I am?
Turns out maternal mental health is a major part of motherhood. Talking about it, sharing our experiences, and just knowing we’re not the only ones going through this makes a massive difference.
Because while each of our experiences are shaped by our own upbringing, societal expectations and where we live [postpartum care is completely different around the world], the fact we are mothers unites us.
We understand it without needing to say anything. That alone is major.
Because quite often it’s difficult to find the words to explain how we’re feeling. I mean, I am a writer and I struggle to explain it to my husband, but when I’m confiding in a mum friend, she just gets it.
Mums to be, this is what you need to know
Don’t go into motherhood blind.
Maternal mental health is an important part of your postpartum period. Here are some things you need to know.
- You’re not alone: Mums experience a range of emotions, from baby blues to more serious mental health issues like postpartum depression or anxiety. It’s totally normal to feel a mix of emotions, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
- Risk factors: Some things can make you more likely to experience maternal mental health challenges, like having a history of mental health issues or going through a lot of stress. Just being aware of these factors can help you stay on top of your emotional wellbeing.
- Look out for signs: If you’re feeling super sad, anxious, or just not like yourself for a couple of weeks, it’s essential to talk to someone about it. It’s better to reach out for help sooner rather than later.
- Early help makes a difference: Catching these feelings early can make a world of difference for you and your baby. Don’t hesitate to chat with your doctor, midwife, or a mental health professional about what you’re going through.
- Treatments are available: There are lots of options for feeling better, like therapy, support groups, or even medication if needed. You and your healthcare provider can figure out what’s best for you.
- Self-care is key: Don’t forget to take care of yourself, mama with real self-care. Get as much sleep as you can, eat well, and try to squeeze in some light exercise. Make some time for yourself – even a short walk or a cup of tea can do wonders for your mental health.
- Prevention can help: While you can’t always prevent mental health issues, you can take steps to reduce the risk. Build a strong support network, manage stress, and don’t be afraid to seek help if needed.
Just remember that you’re doing an amazing job. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it, and keep taking care of yourself, that is so important.
There is help available: PANDA, Gidget Foundation, Beyond Blue, COPE, MumSpace.