#RealMotherhood: What You Need to Be Aware of for Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month
Have you recently given birth? After leaving the persistent support of the hospital staff, do you feel overwhelmed? Easily irritated by your loved ones and your new baby? Full of regret and doubt? Guilty for feeling these feelings? You are not alone. You could be like the 1 in 7 mothers suffering from a Maternal Mental Health disorder.
May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month. Becoming a mother can be a very stressful situation. Often, after the rush of childbirth fades and the support of the nurses, friends, and family whittles away, we can be left with confusion, fear, and a constant need to be a “perfect mother.” Organizations like The Blue Dot Project and 2020 Mom offer information and support regarding the different postpartum disorders. Maternal Mental Health Awareness month aims to break down the stigma and preconceptions of maternal mental health and raise awareness for the support system that is already in place for suffering mothers everywhere. What can often get brushed off as nothing more than “the baby blues” can be a serious and frustrating issue. Postpartum Support International outlines several of the different postpartum disorders; they also offer resources and real stories from mothers and fathers who have experienced postpartum mental health disorders.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently published a “committee opinion” on how they think we should be improving postpartum care. They suggest that women often must wait too long to see a doctor and their needs are often neglected to make way for baby’s needs. With the ACOG’s new suggestions, Professor Debra Bingham comments that “the postpartum period has become a priority”. They stress the importance of seeing your pediatrician sooner than the six weeks after birth; they also urge pediatrician to start screening for maternal mental health.
One of the most important things to understand as a mother experiences these feelings is that you are not alone and you are not broken. There is no right or wrong way to be a mother. A good way to begin to break down some of these symptoms is to talk about what you’re feeling. At Healthier Moms and Babies, we offer a Mama Moods support group on Tuesdays at 5pm. If you’re interested in this free, open group, you are welcome to join at your convenience.
Maternal Mental Health is so crucial to the health and wellbeing of mothers and families everywhere. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to ask for help.