• kayleigh-short

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week

Maternal Mental health- why aren't we talking about it more?

It's likely that whether you are a parent or not you have heard of post natal depression, however there a whole range of other post and pre natal mental health conditions affecting up to 20% of mothers which are far less widely published. Maternal mental health is a subject where much needs to be done in terms of reducing stigma and raising public awareness. We need to do more.

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week 3-9th May 2021. (It may have been last week but it should be an ongoing conversation...)

Led by – Perinatal Mental Health Partnership

What is it? A weeklong campaign dedicated to talking about mental illness while pregnant or after having a baby. We are dedicated to signposting to support for all mums and families and focus on advocating for those affected by Maternal Mental Health, to access the information and help they require to enable recovery.

What percentage of women have perinatal mental health problems?

Perinatal mental health problems affect between 10 to 20% of women during pregnancy and the first year after having a baby 1.4. Perinatal mental health - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

During pregnancy and in the early days after birth postnatal depression is often spoken about, in my case it was a brief questionaire and a leaflet handed to me but yet there is barely any information given to new parents about a whole range of other maternal mental health conditions. Maternal mental health problems can range from anxiety, low mood and depression to psychosis. Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health problems during pregnancy and after birth.

Signs and symptoms of maternal mental health (MMH) conditions include:

  • Feeling sad or depressed

  • Feeling overly irritable or angry with those around you

  • Difficulty bonding with baby

  • Feeling anxious or panicky

  • Having problems with eating or sleeping

  • Having upsetting thoughts that you can’t get out of your mind

  • Feeling as if you are out of control or “going crazy”

  • Feeling like you never should have become a mother

  • Worrying that you might hurt your baby or yourself (Source Maternal Mental Health Conditions - MMHLA)

Now of course it is perfectly normal to feel a little overwhelmed and tearful in the early days post birth , however the important message to deliver here is the importance of talking. Keep talking. Vocalise how you are feeling with your loved ones and medical professionals, keep talking.

It is very evident there is still much work to be done. Is help readily available? The short answer is no. It has been suggested that only 7% of women who experienced mental health symptoms were referred to specialist mental health care.

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