People view pregnancy and childbirth as a happy thought, something to be celebrated on. However, we often neglect the burden of the mother carrying and delivering the child.
Yes, it is a momentous experience in a mother's life, but the transition also brings plethora of challenges to the new mom or mom-to-be; these challenges are mainly having to adjust to this new life while taking care of the baby. Everything shifts when you're having a baby, the focus mainly goes to the child--child bearing and child rearing experiences requires a lot of emotional and physical attention. Hence, the mother often and inadvertently neglects her own health and wellbeing, which may culminate to postpartum depression and--or other mental disorders.
However, voices of women suffering from postpartum depression and other mental disorders are often unheard and unnoticed. Mothers are the backbone of the family, but ironically, moms and women are often an afterthought when it comes to their health and wellbeing, even on mental health, there is scarcity of resources and coordination.
In contrast to the lack of resources and what most people thought, mental health issues of moms are really common not only in the US, but worldwide.
In fact, based on studies 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who have just given birth experience a mental disorder, primarily, depression. The percentage of women experiencing mental disorder is even higher in developing countries, 15.6% during pregnancy and 19.8% after child birth.
A mother's mental health is vital to the health and long term stability of children, families and communities. Mothers affected and experiencing mental disorders cannot function and give their 100%, and as a result, children's growth and development may be negatively affected as well.
Before we move on, let us define Maternal Mental Health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines maternal mental health as “a state of well-being in which a mother realizes her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her community”.
Mental health is not the same as the absence of mental illness, but reflects a capacity to adapt and cope. The most common mental disorder, the “common cold” of the mental health field, is depression, and the evidence for a link with child outcomes is stronger than for other mental disorders.
Read the full case study here written by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
What are Post-partum Depression and Perinatal Depression? Why we need to talk about it more?
The word "postpartum" means "after birth," so "postpartum depression" is talking only about depression after the baby is born. For many women, this is correct, however, to some this is not the case.
Others feel depressed and anxious during pregnancy. This is called perinatal depression. Perinatal is defined as the stage during pregnancy or just after birth.
New moms and mom-to-be spend most of their pregnancy and time learning how to take care of the baby, but not about how to take care of themselves.
If there is only more awareness with regards to Maternal Mental Health and its importance during pregnancy and post pregnancy, then it would've made a lot of difference.
If women only knew beforehand that their mental health would suffer and might be affected during pregnancy and after childbirth. If they only knew that this is common, that it can be treated. If they got educated about it, then they would know what signs and symptoms to look for, the risk factor, and where to seek help if they experience it.
Post-partum depression would've never got the chance to surprise them and smack them because they are already prepared for it.
Moreover, if they experience post-partum and untreated perinatal depression, it will affect their babies as well--although not directly. Mother-child bonding is greatly significant in the early stage of a baby's life for their development, being close to your baby would greatly help and a big part of this "bonding". However, when a mother is experiencing depression and anxiety, there might be a barrier and it will be hard for her to get close to her baby or tend to her baby's needs. Also, if there is another older child in the house, they may be missing her support as well.
What are the signs of Depression and Anxiety?
- Extremely sad or angry without warning
- Foggy or have trouble completing tasks
- "Robotic," like they are just going through the motions
- Very anxious around the baby and their other children
- Guilty and like they are failing at motherhood
- Unusually irritable or angry
- Little interest in things they used to enjoy
- Scary, upsetting thoughts that don't go away
These signs are from the article written by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Read the full article here.
What are the risk factors for depression and anxiety during pregnancy or after birth?
- A history of depression or anxiety, either during pregnancy or at other times
- Family history of depression or anxiety
- A difficult pregnancy or birth experience
- Giving birth to twins or other multiples
- Experiencing problems in your relationship with your partner
- Experiencing financial problems
- Receiving little or no support from family or friends to help you care for your baby
- Unplanned pregnancy
These risk factors are from the article written by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Read the full article here.
What are the treatments for Depression and Anxiety during pregnancy and after childbirth?
Read the full article here.
Some of the thing you can do in addition to the treatments:
These additional treatments are recommended and from the National Child and Maternal Health Education Program by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).
1. Connect with other moms
- Look for a moms' group in your community or online. These groups may give you the chance to learn from others who are going through or have gone through the same thing and to share your own feelings.
2. Make time for yourself
- Do something for you, like getting out of the house, or taking a hot bath without interruption. If you can, have your partner, a family member, or babysitter watch the baby regularly and go visit a friend or run an errand.
3. Do something you enjoy
- Whether it is listening to music, reading a book, or watching a favorite movie, take a bit of time each day to do something you enjoy.
4. Be realistic
- You don't have to do everything. You don't have to have the "perfect" home. Just do what you can and leave the rest.
5. Ask for help
- Don't be afraid to ask for help from family and friends, whether it's caring for the baby or doing household chores.
6. Rest when the baby rests
- Sleep is just as important for you as it is for the baby. Sleep when the baby sleeps, during naps and at night.
7. Be with others
- Seek out other adults, like family and friends, who can provide comfort and company. Regularly create a special time for you and your partner or for you and a friend to be together.
We hope this curated article from us, The Mummy's Miracle Team, would help raise awareness and educate people, specially women, about the importance of Maternal Mental Health.
We always strive to empower women and children. We want what's best for you. We are here because of you and we are here for you.
Love + miracles,