Finding out you are going to be a mom can bring many emotions. You may feel like you have a million questions about what changes are coming. Expecting mothers tend to focus on how they will take care of their baby and forget to think about how they will care for their own mental and physical health needs.
Mother’s Day provides an opportunity to celebrate moms for everything they do. It is also the perfect time to shine a light on the importance of mental health during and after pregnancy.
Feeling excited, confused, frustrated, scared, overwhelmed, anxious, and discouraged are all very normal emotions to have when expecting. During pregnancy or after childbirth, not all feelings are positive and this is ok. But, what happens if these feelings start to affect your mental health and negatively impact your daily life?
According to the World Health Organization, about 10 percent of pregnant women and 13 percent of women who have just given birth experience a mental disorder. The most common disorders are depression and anxiety.
Who is at risk for Maternal Mental Health issues?
Any woman can develop a mental health disorder during pregnancy and in the first year after delivery. It doesn’t mean that you have “failed” or are a “bad mom.” Pregnancy causes a lot of changes physically and mentally. Since fatigue and poor sleep are expected with new motherhood, maternal mental health disorders often go unrecognized. So, how do you tell if you or a new mom you care about needs some extra help navigating this stage in life?
Mood and anxiety symptoms to pay attention to are:
- Deep Sadness
- Crying Spells
- Excessive Worrying
- Intense Irritability or Anger
- Loss of Appetite
- Inability to Sleep, Even When the Baby is Sleeping
- Overwhelming Fatigue
- Loss of Interest in Sex
- Lack of Joy in Life
- Feelings of Shame, Guilt or Inadequacy
- Severe Mood Swings
- Withdrawal from Family and Friends
- Confusion or Disorientation
- Hallucinations and Delusions
- Difficulty Bonding with the Baby
- Thoughts of Harming Yourself or the Baby
- Attempts to Harm Yourself or the Baby
Can this affect the child’s health?
If you have taken a recent trip in an airplane, you have probably heard the instructions, “in case of an emergency, place your own oxygen mask on prior to placing a child’s on.” In order to provide children with a healthy home environment, their mother’s needs also need to be met.
So yes, untreated a new mom’s mental health can affect her child. However, with care, both mom and baby can thrive.
What can you do?
If you have a bad cough or high fever you call your doctor and schedule an appointment. Right? Most likely, you would do so without thinking twice. So, why should you suffer in silence if you are a new or expecting mom and struggling with your mental health? You don’t have to suffer or feel guilty or ashamed.
Perinatal and postpartum mood disorders, like depression and anxiety, are actual illnesses that may need professional help. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms above, please contact us at Covenant Family Solutions for help. Healthy and happy moms help lead to healthy and happy families.