Normally I post my #confessionsofaparentingexpert and it is time for one of those for sure. But I really want to just provide you all with some REALLY important information about women’s mental health during pregnancy and in the few years after their baby is born.
Did you know…
1 in 10 women will experience symptoms of depression or anxiety during pregnancy and 1 in 6 will experience these same symptoms in the first year of their child’s life.
However what we know is that most women ignore these symptoms until they feel as though they are at breaking point. Until then they suffer, telling themselves that their symptoms are ‘just’ the baby blues, hormones, sleep deprivation or signs that they are still adjusting to motherhood.
The reality is that many women don’t realise they have symptoms of depression and/or anxiety until well into their baby’s first year of life. Some actually don’t know until they have their 2nd or 3rd child.
There are a number of reasons why this is the case.
Firstly, research shows that up to 50% of women don’t recognise the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety during this period of their lives.
This same research shows that most women have extremely high expectations of motherhood. When the reality doesn’t measure up to hopes and dreams, 74% of women do not want to admit that they aren’t coping. So they deny it.
The bottom line is that women don’t want to be judged. They don’t want to be seen as bad mothers and as not coping. Despite their logic, women are frightened that their baby could be taken away from them by family who think they can do a better job or even child protection.
Women often feel they are the only ones finding it difficult and media images of motherhood reinforce their feelings of inadequacy and failure.
Women report feeling angry and ashamed when their experience of motherhood isn’t as they’d expect. Sixty two percent report that feelings of guilt remain with them many many years after they have their child.
This breaks my heart. There are too many mothers struggling. But what’s even more frustrating for me is that this is not necessary.
Preparing psychologically for motherhood DURING pregnancy is one of the most proactive steps a woman can take. It doesn’t GUARANTEE that you won’t have difficulties but it DOES reduce the likelihood. And it certainly helps you move beyond these symptoms more quickly.
Talking about your experience of motherhood with loved ones and professionals, acknowledging your down days and admitting if you aren’t coping are pivotal in getting the support, guidance and treatment that can help you have a POSITIVE experience of motherhood.
Please take action. Don’t just focus on getting the nursery ready and writing your birth plan. Reflect on your journey in life, your vulnerabilities and your strengths. Identify your supports and your coping strategies. Have a plan of action … just in case. Like the boys scouts say, it’s better to be prepared.
Research courtesy of Centre of Perinatal Excellence (C.O.P.E.)