Looking After Your Maternal Mental Health

04 May, 2020

Looking After Your Maternal Mental Health

Maternal Mental Health week takes place in the first week of May across the UK to open up the conversation on maternal mental health, and support those struggling with mental health issues both during pregnancy and after birth. 

According to the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, 1 in 5 women develop some form of mental health problem during their pregnancy or in the year after birth. 

The pain of experiencing any mental health condition causes a negative impact on women’s health and wellbeing, as well as struggles for their families and partners.  

To help you to maintain good mental health during pregnancy and after birth we’ve shared the reocmmended tips given by mental health charities such as Mind and the Maternal Mental Health Alliance. 

Be Realistic 

Thanks to social media, the press and celebrities we can have a warped idea of how pregnancy and motherhood ‘should be’. 

This can mean we have severely unrealistic expectations when it comes to our own personal experiences. Often feeling like ‘we’re doing it wrong’, or ‘not good enough’. 

These emotions are normal but can be highly exaggerated by the world around us, and make the experience of pregnancy and motherhood one fraught with disappointment. 

Instead, try to be realistic about the situation, and talk to other mums or women who have had children to give some honest feedback. 

We all experience pregnancy and motherhood in such different ways, so sometimes it can be helpful to get a wide range of opinions to make you realise that everyone does it their own way. 

Learn about mental health 

Knowing the signs and symptoms of any mental health illness can ensure that if a mental health experience does occur you can seek help quicker and know how to start caring for yourself. 

There are many mental health charities who now provide training that can help you understand why mental health issues occur, how to recognise them, and how to treat them. From the Mental Health Foundation, to the Maternal Mental Health Alliance. 

As with anything in life, the unknown is always a little scary, but having the knowledge and being prepared can help you feel more confident and equipped to go through your pregnancy and motherhood with a stronger understanding of mental health and its importance. 

Get prepared 

If you have an existing mental health condition during your pregnancy this can be managed. 

Mental health is one of the most common experiences for women across the UK. In fact, statistics from the Mental Health Foundation reveal that women are more likely than men to suffer from a mental health experience, with 1 in 4 people struggling with a mental health condition. 

Do not be afraid to discuss a pre-existing condition with your doctor and midwife, as they will be able to guide you through your pregnancy and motherhood ensuring you have the essential support you may need. 

Self-care is essential 

There is so much pressure on new mums. From getting their figure back to being the ‘perfect mum’. But there is no such thing as ‘perfection’. 

Your body has created a human being. That’s incredible. But now it’s time to get plenty of rest, gentle exercise and eat well to help your body recover both mentally and physically. 

If you feel overwhelmed and aren’t able to take time for self-care, then find ways to get support from friends and family.

In the early stages it can feel impossible to get enough rest, and sleep deprivation can be a trigger for mental health problems. So it is essential you try to catch up where you can, and take naps rather than clean the house or prepare dinner. You must ask for help. 

Connect socially 

When you’re a new mum it can feel lonely. Especially if you don’t have any other friends who have babies or have children of their own. Therefore, keeping connected with old friends can be difficult. 

Social connection is good for our wellbeing, so while you’re pregnant and after birth, it’s good to try and attend classes and baby groups to remain social. 

Talk about it 

There is much being done in the media and by celebrities to raise the stigma around mental health. It is no longer a taboo subject, as so many people in the UK suffer with a form of mental health. 

If you do find yourself struggling, talk to someone you can trust and who knows you well, such as a partner, a friend or family member. 

Talking is so important and can help you get the right help you need. 

Your health visitor and GP will also ask how you are feeling during health check-ups because feeling low after birth is very common. Be honest with them as they can offer an abundance of help and support and help you to overcome this phase.

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