Maternal Mental Health refers to the health of women during pregnancy, after childbirth and the new experience of the postpartum period. For some mothers, it is a heavenly and very positive experience, whereas for some it could be associated to ill-health, limitations and even depression.
As per WHO (World Health Organization) Worldwide about 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who have just given birth experience a maternal mental health disorder, primarily depression.
Total denial of PTSD (Post-partum depression)
What is the big deal in giving birth to a child? What’s the fuss about it? We had four children and we use to manage them all so well, now you can’t even handle a single kid?
Do these snide remarks sounds familiar to you all? If not personally but you must have come across someone making such remarks for another woman, after all, we are masters of judgment and assumptions. The very concept of women and mental health has always been denied in our society but maternal mental health matters.
Motherhood is ultimate bliss, holding your child who is a part of you, who was there in your womb for nine months, the bond, the connection, and the feeling is divine and unexplainable. But for many mothers, things change unimaginably and it becomes a little strange for the family members and partners to understand the root cause of the change in behavior of the new mother.
It is not that she doesn’t like to be a mother or doesn’t love her child, but maybe due the reasons that her body goes into deep changes, she puts on weight, stretch marks, feels restricted, can’t sleep, can’t eat on time, her life completely changes and revolves around her newborn she finds difficult to handle things, some people fail to cope up with such kind of prominent changes in their lives and find themselves in the ultimate distressful condition, which starts hampering everything and everyone around.
Possible reasons which could lead to maternal mental illness:
- Lack of support
- Handling things on her own
- Had to give up high-performing career
- Financial constraints
- Unrealistic need to be a perfect mom
- Unhealthy relationship environment
- Hormonal changes may trigger symptoms of postpartum depression and sometimes it could be just the post-delivery jitters one gets.
In developing countries, this is even higher, i.e. 15.6% during pregnancy and 19.8% after childbirth. In severe cases, mothers’ suffering might be so severe that they may even commit suicide. As a result, the children’s growth and development may be negatively affected as well.
Maternal mental health disorders are treatable if timely taken care of. Effective interventions can be delivered even by well-trained non-specialist health providers. But one must understand what is happening to her and the other family members must be willing to help her, which is hardly the case.
The mental health of the mothers
We struggle hard to make people believe that mental illness is for real and women or men going through it are not playing victims or doing things to seek attention, they just need to have listened.
As per research, a recent meta-analysis showed that about 20 % of mothers in developing countries experience clinical depression after childbirth. Suicide is an important cause of death among pregnant and postpartum women. Psychosis is much less common but may also lead to suicide and in some cases even harming the newborn because they are just not thinking straight.
Depression causes enormous suffering and disability and a reduced response to a child’s need. Evidence indicates that treating the depression of mothers leads to improved growth and development of the newborn and reduces the likelihood of diarrhea and malnutrition among them.
It is sad to see that we live in such an ignorant society where if a person tries to reach out he or she is labeled as an attention seeker, or someone who plays victim, a sadist or even a psycho but how many of us actually pays attention?
No matter how well-educated we are or at the high position we are, if we fail as humans and can’t support our own family members then we are just breathing, non-existent.
The maternal mental health of a woman is as important as the health of the new-born. The first six months are crucial. Things do change for the husbands too, but they go out to work, their routine doesn’t get affected except for some sleepless nights. But a new mother is 24*7 on duty.
All they need is a litle bit care and attention, which is not hard to give and if you ever experience something indifferent try to consult a professional counselor, which will surely help her come out of the zone and encourage self-care. All this will lead to strengthen her bond with her new baby, new life and new responsibilties.
Be there. Be Aware. Be present, you might prevent a tragedy.
Much love and gratitude