What is Maternal Mental Health

What is Maternal Mental Health

Pregnancy can be an incredible journey for some women but challenging for others. No two pregnancies are the same, and each one comes with its own ups and downs. It is common for most women to experience a range of emotions and feelings as the body undergoes a lot of physical and hormonal changes. So, it is completely normal for moods and behavioural changes during the perinatal period. However, if your mental state begins to hugely impact your daily life, you could be experiencing maternal mental health problems.

Maternal mental health (also known as perinatal mental health problems) refers to mental health issues experienced by pregnant and postpartum mothers. This encompasses a broad range of emotional, psychological, and behavioural disorders, such as postpartum depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. These issues are experienced by many as 1 in 5 women in the UK. So, if you’re suffering from maternal mental health, know you’re not alone.

Factors that Contribute to Maternal Mental Health

Some women might be more likely to suffer from maternal mental health than others. This comes down to a variety of risk factors:

  • History of mental health problems.
  • A lack of social support.
  • Financial stress.
  • Relationship problems.
  • Difficulties with pregnancy or childbirth.

Symptoms of Maternal Mental Health

Pregnancy alters the body and its hormones which has an impact on most women. However, there are certain symptoms to look out for when diagnosing maternal mental health. This includes:

  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, irritability, or anxiety.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Sleep disturbances. Sleeping too much or too little.
  • Avoiding family or friends.
  • Intrusive or ‘scary thoughts’.
  • In severe cases, women may experience thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

If you have discovered that you are suffering from these symptoms, it’s important that you reach out to someone and speak to them about it. This could be a trusted family member or friend or medical professional.

The Impact this has on Maternal and Child Health

It’s essential that pregnant women and postnatal women receive the necessary support if they are suffering from mental illness. Not only does maternal depression affect the mother, but it also impacts the child. The mother-child relationship can be strained which can have a negative impact on the child’s growth and development. Thus, sound maternal mental health is necessary for the mother’s well-being and her ability to parent her new child.

How to Manage Maternal Mental Health Problems

If you are suffering from maternal mental disorders such as postnatal depression, there are things you can do to help.

  • Focusing on sleep
  • Balanced diet.
  • Physical Activity.
  • Therapy.
  • Social Support.

Speaking to somebody about how you feel is the first step to helping yourself. If you need someone to talk to, contact Mental Health & Life at 020 3984 9825 or drop us a message.