The entire month of May is dedicated to mental health awareness. Likewise, May 5th is a day dedicated to maternal mental health. We know what mental health is and ways to improve it, so why is maternal mental health so different?
To begin with, maternal mental health includes the mental health state of a mother during pregnancy and up to one year after birth.
Mothers go through a lot of physical changes and mental disruptions during a pregnancy. Their body rapidly gets bigger. There are restrictions on what they can and can’t eat, drink, or do. They deal with physical hardships like heartburn, intense hormonal changes, swelling, joint pain, and rashes. Not to mention all that kicking from the little one inside! Pregnancy is beautiful, but for many mother’s it is a struggle and can be dangerous. Imagine living like that for 38+ weeks. It takes a mental toll on a person.
All of these things affect maternal mental health, and it is estimated nearly 1 out of 5 mothers will experience a mental health crisis during or after their pregnancy. During pregnancy and after childbirth, mothers can develop postpartum depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, postpartum psychosis, and even obsessive-compulsive disorder.
After childbirth, many women face some difficulty with the way their body has changed due to pregnancy, which can cause certain levels of stress. While they may have prepared to care for a baby in the future, actually doing it is another thing entirely and weighs heavily on the mind.
Maternal mental health illnesses are preventable or treatable if caught early enough. It is important that women who are pregnant or have just had a baby see their doctors regularly and are honest about any mental issues they are facing.
Let’s bring awareness to maternal mental health today for the mothers we know and cherish.
By: Better Me by Dr. B
Editor: Ariel Thompson
Medical Reviewer: Dr. Tiffany Bell D.O.