Maternal Mental Health: Navigating Pregnancy & Postpartum

Kristin Gunner

5/2/2024

woman lying on bed
woman lying on bed

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time “dedicated to eradicating stigma, extending support, fostering public education, and advocating for policies that prioritize the well-being of individuals and families affected by mental illness.” (NAMI)

I want to talk a little about an important aspect of mental health: the journey of pregnant and postpartum women. While this time can be filled with so much joy and excitement, it can also come with its own set of challenges that affect mental well-being.

The Mental Health Journey of Pregnant and Postpartum Women:

There's nothing like the experience of pregnancy and postpartum, both physically and emotionally. Although expecting and new mothers may feel happy and fulfilled, these times can also be accompanied by a range of emotions, like anxiety, depression, and stress. During this time, hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, relationship dynamics, and societal pressures can all affect a woman's mental health.

Breaking the Stigma:

There's a stigma around mental illness, especially when it comes to mothers, that makes seeking help for these issues difficult. Most women feel shame or embarrassment when they admit that they're struggling, afraid of being judged or criticized. But it's important to remember that asking for help shows strength, not weakness. By breaking the silence and sharing our experiences, we can help break the stigma and create a culture of understanding and acceptance.

Supporting Maternal Mental Health:

So, what can pregnant and postpartum women do to support their mental health during this time?

  1. Self-care is crucial. Taking time for yourself, whether it's through mindfulness practices, exercise, or simply resting when needed, can help relieve stress and encourage emotional well-being.

  2. Building a strong support system of friends, family, and healthcare providers who understand and validate your experiences is also so important.

  3. Don't hesitate to seek professional help if you're struggling. Therapists, counselors, and support groups specialized in maternal mental health can provide the guidance and support you need.

Resources for Support:

Fortunately, there are many resources available for pregnant and postpartum women seeking support for their mental health. Organizations like Postpartum Support International (PSI) offer helplines, online support groups, and resources for finding local support services. Additionally, many therapists and counselors specialize in maternal mental health and can provide tailored support for your needs.

Supporting Early Parenting | Mind Body Baby | Charlotte, NC (mindbodybabync.org)

Postpartum Support International - PSI

Postpartum Conditions — Maternity Care | Novant Health

Home | KinderMourn

Grief Counseling Services in North Carolina | Carolina Caring — Carolina Caring

Family Support Network of North Carolina (fsnnc.org)

Mindspace Counseling

Charlotte Therapy Associates

Please don't hesitate to reach out if you need help finding other resources.

Pregnancy and new motherhood are beautiful, transformative experiences, but they also come with their own set of challenges. By prioritizing mental health, breaking the stigma, and seeking support when needed, pregnant and postpartum women can navigate this journey with strength and resilience.

Remember that you’re not alone, and your mental health matters. Let's continue to raise awareness, support each other, and create a community of understanding and empathy.

Info:

kristin@newdaydoula.com
980-781-9231

Follow:
logo of a sun with the words new day doula support
logo of a sun with the words new day doula support