Today is World Maternal Mental Health Day (Wednesday 1 May), part of a week-long campaign to raise awareness on maternal mental health matters. The theme this year is ‘support for all’, with a focus on enabling families affected by perinatal mental illness to access the information and help they require for recovery. Perinatal being the period of time covering pregnancy and up to a year after giving birth.
Having a baby is a major life event, your body goes through so much change physically, mentally and emotionally, changes that for the most part you’re not in control of, so it’s natural to experience a range of emotions and reactions during and after pregnancy, and this is what the campaigning and raising awareness is focused on – it’s normal, common, you are not on your own!
- Worldwide as many as 1 in 5 women experience some type of perinatal mood or anxiety disorder (PMAD), these include – perinatal depression, perinatal anxiety, perinatal OCD, postpartum psychosis, postpartum PTSD. Some women also experience eating problems during and around pregnancy. Click on the links to find out more information about each of the disorders listed above.
- 7 in 10 women hide or downplay their symptoms.
- Perinatal mood disorders can affect the entire family, around 1 in 10 dads develop depression during this time.
- It’s estimated that 20 – 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth. In addition to grief, many of these women also experience postpartum depression. Giving birth to a premature child or having a child in Neonatal Intensive Care can also take a toll on maternal mental health.
Symptoms differ for different people and disorders, have a look on the links above for more info. However, some common and reoccurring symptoms can include:
- Sad, low, tearful for no reason
- Worthless and hopeless feelings
- Unable to cope
- Unable to sleep (when you have the opportunity)
- Faster breathing, feeling dizzy, thumping or irregular heartbeat, feeling on edge
- Panic attacks
Support & self-care
There are lots of support services available, the first step is acknowledging you might need some help. Speaking to your partner, family, friends, GP, midwife, Health Visitor or mummy/daddy friends. A problem shared is a problem halved almost straight away. A weight lifted and a positive step forwards taken. Other self-care steps include:
- Exercise – keeping active can help to boost your mood, help you feel stronger in mind and body. Many women I have trained through pregnancy and beyond have said as tired as they feel, they feel energised, uplifted and in control of their body after a workout, endorphins give an awesome kick!
- Try to get sleep – wherever you can find the time to get some rest, a good sleep does you wonders.
- Accept help – if friends and family offer to help out, cook meals, do cleaning, washing, look after baby whilst you sleep/rest, say YES!
- Cook meals in advance – a big pan cook-up and a freezer full will save you time, effort and energy.
- Take it slowly and don’t put pressure on yourself – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and set yourself too much to do. Having a baby is a full-time job on top of the daily things you do around the house, don’t feel you have to do it all, take time to adjust, adapt and make it work with your new family set-up.
- Take time out for yourself, 20 minutes, half an hour – do you, for you and don’t feel guilty for it! Whether that’s to have a bath, go for a walk, read a book, meditate and have some quiet time, wash your hair…
Don’t let things build up, get out of control or pull you down which can so easily and quickly be done… if you’re feeling down, depressed, anxious or haven’t dealt with traumatic situations you have been through… speak up, reach out, don’t put it off any longer… priorities your mental health and well-being, get the support that is out there.
Links to more information and support services
There are lots of online and in-person support services available, a first step is to do some research and have a look. Below are just a few…
How are you feeling?
Find out more about Kate’s pre and postnatal bootcamps below:
Kate is also hosting a health and wellness retreat for new mums on Saturday 29 June, find out more about that here: bit.ly/NewMumsRetreat