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Maternal mental health: it’s ok not to be ok

Maternal mental health: it’s ok not to be ok

With World Mental Health Day being spoken about a great deal this month, you may have seen my article on the mental health of your partner. I spoke about postnatal depression in partners and some of the symptoms to look out for – in men in particular. But what about maternal mental health? 

The World Health Organization says that 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who have given birth experience a mental disorder – mainly depression. And the Maternal Mental Health Alliance predict that the pandemic will have had an even greater impact – not only on families but on the services we are able to provide to support them. 

With that in mind, I’d like to offer you a little support if you are struggling – or know somebody who is. And if after reading this, you’d like to chat, then please get in touch with me. I’m not a doctor but I have 35 years of experience helping families with every aspect of parenting and I’d love to help you

What is maternal mental health?

Maternal mental health – or perinatal mental health, can be experienced from becoming pregnant up until around a year after giving birth. And as you have read, it’s very common. You may have already experienced mental health issues, or the huge life event of becoming a parent may have caused you to have a range of emotions which have never affected you before. 

Some of the signs to look out for

• Feeling sad or low

• Loss in interest in some of the things you used to enjoy

• Feeling tired

• Trouble sleeping

• Loss of appetite

• Feeling agitated

• Lack of confidence in looking after your baby

• Frightening thoughts

Many of us will feel some or all of these things from time to time, and it could be nothing to worry about. But if it’s affecting your life day to day, then it could be you need some support. 

First thing to do

One thing I would always advise, is to talk to your GP as soon as possible. Family and friends can be a great support, but mental health is just like any other medical condition. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. The NHS have lots of ways to help, care and support you – even if you are in the planning stages of pregnancy. Please talk to them.

Other things you can try

Talk, talk, talk – Whether that’s to your partner, family, midwife or other mums.

Relax – It’s easier said than done I know, but you could begin by setting aside just 20 minutes a day doing something you enjoy.

Eat well – I’m always talking about the impact of food and the digestive system on your baby, but the same applies to you. 

Ask for help – If practical help with things like grocery shopping, childcare and household chores would make a difference, then reach out to friends and family.

Mental Health is a huge issue and everyone is different. But I hope this gives you something to think about, a place to start to look for help and reassurance that you’re not alone. 

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