mothers and mental health
There is a very common link between being a mother and having mental health problems. While mental health problems can occur at any stage of motherhood, research shows between 10% and 20% of mothers develop mental health problems during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth. Having a baby can bring up feelings of isolation, loneliness, anxiety, or depression. You are not alone in these feelings, and there are many sources of support out there.
Here are some mental health conditions that can occur during or after pregnancy:
Postnatal and Antenatal depression
Postnatal depression can occur after pregnancy and antenatal depression can occur during it – they share similar experiences and symptoms. The main symptoms of these are feeling low, low self esteem, disturbed sleep, and loss of energy. Some mothers also experience feelings of being detached from their baby or partner.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
OCD can occur at any stage of pregnancy or post-pregnancy. This mental health condition involves both obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted thoughts and compulsions are actions you feel you must do. You can learn more about OCD here.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that is caused by a traumatic event, such as giving birth. This mental health condition can make living day-to-day difficult, which is amplified when caring for a newborn. You can learn more about PTSD here.
If you are experiencing these mental health problems it is important to look after yourself, for you and your child. Here are some support suggestions:
Remember you are not a bad parent
It is so important to remember how common these conditions are to mothers and experiencing them does not make you a bad parent. Thinking about these conditions shows that you are thinking about your baby – that’s good parenting.
Talk to a medical professional
It is never too late to seek help. Medical professionals such as your midwife, health visitor, or GP are incredibly knowledgeable about these common mental health conditions and will be able to direct you to further sources of support.
Talk to a loved one
Opening up about your feelings to a loved one will remind you that you do not have to go through these experiences alone. Talking may help clear your mind and your loved one will want to help you seek support.
Our Information and Support Line signposts you to relevant support in your area that most fits your needs. You can also visit ANPI or NCT for further support.