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Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month

Updated: May 31



Maternal Mental Health Awareness

The month of May celebrates Maternal Mental Health Awareness! This month allows us to generate awareness of maternal mental health issues to promote treatment and prevent any mother from feeling alone in her postpartum experience. The campaign seeks to reduce the stigma of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and allow mothers to both recognize signs of PMADs and seek treatment if necessary.

 

In the United States and many countries around the world, it is estimated as many as 1 in 5 mothers experience some type of PMADs. Women of every race, culture, and socioeconomic class can develop PMADs. While there is no one direct known cause for PPD and other PMADs; genetics, physical and hormonal changes, emotional issues, environment, financial and emotional issues can all be underlying factors.

 

An important component of maternal mental health is to be knowledgeable on common postpartum experiences. While there is so much joy in bringing home baby, there is also a tremendous amount of stress and challenge. Nearly, 80% of new mothers experience what is called, “baby blues.” Baby blues are the common emotional ups and downs that occur 2-3 days following childbirth. If one moment you are happy crying while looking at your baby, then the next you are crying due to overwhelm - it is no surprise. As a new mother, it can be expected to experience mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, feelings of overwhelm, anxiety and fatigue for up to two weeks after delivery. Many sleepless nights, a change in routine, added responsibilities and hormone fluctuations are all possible causes for baby blues. Do not worry mama, these postpartum sensations are entirely normal and expected!

 

 

Baby Blues v. Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Baby Blues and PMADs often get confused for one another. Many mothers, as well as their support systems, may brush aside key differences, or neglect causes for concern. It is for this reason, PMADs are often left untreated. In a time that is “supposed” to be joyful, mothers may feel alone in their symptoms and be fearful to admit something feels off. Maternal Mental Health Awareness month allows us as practitioners, mothers, and survivors to encourage you to speak out and gain wisdom on signs and symptoms of PMADs, Among the most prevalent in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders is postpartum depression. While PPD may appear similar to Baby Blues, symptoms for PPD are more intense and last for a longer period of time. Other PMADs include postpartum anxiety, OCD, and psychosis.

 

Diagnosis and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5), PPD is diagnosed when at least five of the following symptoms are present either during pregnancy or within the first 4 weeks following delivery:

 

·      Depressed mood

·      loss of interest or pleasure

·      insomnia or hypersomnia

·      psychomotor retardation or agitation

·      worthlessness or guilt’ loss of energy or fatigue

·      suicidal ideation or attempt and recurrent thoughts of death

·      impaired concentration or indecisiveness

·      and a change in weight or appetite.

 

If you or a mother you may know is displaying any of these symptoms it is time to seek professional care. An important reminder is that there is no shame in taking care of yourself, and asking for needed support!

 

Personal Support

It can be daunting taking care of a new baby while also feeling in need of help yourself. This is when it is time to gather your support system. The old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” exists for a reason. Gather your village of those that can support you and tend to your needs. Your village can be found in family, friends, other mothers, and those you can relate to your experience.

 

·      Be open and honest about your current experiences- While we may think others can read our mind, it is important to be transparent in communication. State your feelings, current state of mind, and ways in which you can be supported clearly. Others may think they are supporting you by holding the baby but, maybe what you truly need is for them to do the laundry! There is no shame in communicating your needs and recognizing your limitations in this season of life.

·      Allow and accept help- As new mothers, we may feel the desire to do it all and be it all. No person is meant to wear all the hats- even you mama. Allow yourself to be helped and recognize the importance in nurturing and caring for you.

·      Communicate boundaries- If there are things that need to be done to protect your peace, communicate them.

 

 

Professional Support

If symptoms of PMADs are being experienced, reach out for professional support. This can include reaching out to your OBGYN, Midwife or Doula, Professional Counselors, Support Groups and postpartum support networks.

 

·      For resources on perinatal support in Virginia please visit https://www.postpartum.net/ and https://postpartumva.org/. Postpartum Support International and Postpartum Support Virginia include a vast amount of resources on maternal healthcare practitioners and counselors, support groups, peer mentorship, and helplines.

·      If you are need of a therapist, visit our website https://www.thinkhappylivehealthy.com/meet-the-team and explore our team members with experience in perinatal mental health.

·      THLH is also excited to announce a new Postpartum Support Group beginning late summer 2024. If you would like more information, please email maria@thinkhappylivehealthy.com

 

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month allows us to not only generate awareness of Maternal Mental Illness but, also provide resources for mothers and support systems in need. If you are experiencing symptoms similar to those mentioned above, please seek support. This month please explore, or post using hashtags #maternalMHmatter, #worldMMHday, and #WeAre1in5. Your motherhood journey could help another mama feel encouraged, inspired, and most importantly alone.

 

 

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