Today is the start of Maternal Mental Health Week; a week-long campaign to raise awareness on maternal mental health matters. The theme this year is ‘supporting mums during difficult times’, with a focus on enabling families affected by perinatal mental illness to access 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 lift.
- 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…
Bootcamps – bringing women together…
I love my job… helping women to stay active and strong through pregnancy and beyond… delivering various pre and post natal bootcamps out in the community, alongside PT. Bootcamps that are as much about the social and sisterhood support, as they are the exercise… and do my best to create a close and supportive community in classes; an environment where everyone is welcome, everyone feels at ease to be themselves, to open up and share any stresses and struggles they may have, to share anything they are going through… I truly believe when a community of women come together and support each other, they can fix just about anything and everything! 🙂 The amazing endorphins you get from the workout, building back strength and fitness are the Brucie-bonus.
Find out more about my pre and post natal bootcamps below:
I’m always open about my life experiences with clients and class-goers and have written a blog about my miscarriage, feel free to have a read: My Missed Miscarriage