Let’s talk about something that not many people understand a great deal about.
Maternal mental health
Did you know that around 1 in 10 women in the UK experience mental health issues, or go on to develop them in the year post-delivery? According to the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, 7 out of 10 women will hide or downplay the severity of the struggles they are experiencing. This can be for a range of reasons including not wanting to be medicated and potentially having to stop breastfeeding. Or perhaps their NCT group has become a place where women are showing off their Insta-worthy new mummy lives so they feel their struggles will bring judgement.
Whatever the reason, the end result is that there’s a whole lot of women out there who are struggling with their mental health. Sadly a lot of these women end up falling through the cracks of the mental health service who need extra support.
During pregnancy and the first year postpartum the body goes through an incredible array of physical and hormonal changes. When that’s combined with chronic sleep deprivation, learning a large number of new skills rapidly and a complete change of lifestyle it’s pretty easy to understand why so many women struggle. What really needs to change is the notion that women need to do it alone, that they’ll be judged or criticised for admitting they are struggling and that they need help.
Having support is crucial
Having encouraging and non-judgemental social support is a protective factor against developing any kind of mental illness. It’s also a factor which determines the severity and duration of experiencing symptoms. Sometimes it really is as simple as having someone supportive and friendly to talk to.
Because of the pandemic I’m seeing a marked increase of enquiries from people struggling with anxiety, and amongst those people I’ve noticed that there are more pregnant women and new mothers than usual. One of those ladies was Krisha Davies. Krishe created her small business Mumma and Mia after she experienced postnatal anxiety with her second daughter and made the decision not to return to the corporate world.
So, we ended up getting together and creating a Facebook group called Stop + Breathe. The intention for this group is to provide support, information and resources for mums, and mums-to-be about maternal mental health. When women get together they can create amazing things, and this group is evidence of that. So if you’re in this boat and feeling like there’s no one that you know that you can talk to, you’ve got us. I’ve designed the resources that are going into the group to be short and sweet. We understand that if you’re also dealing with pregnancy fatigue or a newborn that most women don’t have time to sit down for hour long sessions of therapy, so most techniques and resources are 10 minutes or less.
I’m really proud of this initiative and I’m looking forward to seeing it grow into an amazing and supportive community. All it needs for that to happen is for you to join and connect and to spread the world. I’m looking forward to meeting you in there.