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Celebrating Mother’s Day: Prioritising the Mental Health of Mums

Mother’s Day is a special occasion dedicated to celebrating and appreciating the incredible women who have played a pivotal role in our lives. While flowers, cards, and breakfast in bed are traditional ways to show our love, it’s also crucial to acknowledge a less discussed aspect of motherhood: mental health.

A Mother's love
Mothers Day Special

The Unsung Struggle of Maternal Mental Health Motherhood.

Often portrayed as a time of boundless joy and fulfillment, can also bring significant mental health challenges. From postnatal depression to the ongoing stress of balancing work and family life, many mums face psychological struggles in silence. These challenges can affect mums of all ages and at all stages of parenting.

The struggles of maternal mental health can significantly affect mothers at any stage of their parenting journey. Here are some of the primary challenges and their potential effects on mental health:

Postnatal Depression (PND):

  • Description: Also known as postpartum depression, PND affects many women after childbirth. Symptoms may include deep sadness, low energy, anxiety, changes in sleeping or eating patterns, irritability, and a feeling of detachment from the baby.

  • Effect: PND can impair a mother’s ability to bond with her baby, contributing to feelings of inadequacy and failure. It can also strain relationships with partners and other family members.

Anxiety and Stress:

  • Description: Many mothers experience anxiety about their capabilities, the health and well-being of their child, and balancing motherhood with other responsibilities. This can manifest as general anxiety disorder or more acute stress reactions.

  • Effect: Chronic stress and anxiety can lead to physical health problems, such as heart disease and high blood pressure, as well as exacerbate mental health issues like depression.

Identity and Self-Image Issues:

  • Description: Motherhood often brings significant changes to a woman’s identity and self-image. Many mothers struggle with the loss of their pre-motherhood identity or feel pressured by societal expectations to act in certain ways.

  • Effect: These identity shifts can lead to decreased self-esteem and feelings of lost personal autonomy, which can trigger depressive episodes or anxiety.

Isolation and Loneliness:

  • Description: New mothers often feel isolated, especially if they are far from family or lack a supportive social network. This isolation can be exacerbated by the demands of caring for a newborn.

  • Effect: Social isolation can increase the risk of mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, and can lead to a sense of being overwhelmed and unsupported.

Sleep Deprivation:

  • Description: Caring for an infant often leads to significant sleep disruption. New mothers frequently deal with interrupted sleep or prolonged periods of sleep deprivation.

  • Effect: Lack of sleep can exacerbate mental health problems, impair cognitive functions, and increase irritability and stress.

Challenges with Work-Life Balance:

  • Description: Balancing the demands of a career and family can create significant stress. Mothers often face societal pressure to excel in both roles, sometimes without adequate support.

  • Effect: This can lead to burnout, feelings of failure, and mental exhaustion, which negatively impact both mental and physical health.

Addressing these challenges involves recognizing the symptoms early, seeking appropriate medical and psychological help, creating strong support networks, and fostering environments that support mental health and well-being. It also requires a societal shift towards recognizing and supporting the mental health needs of mothers.

Understanding and Supporting Mental Health Recognition of Postnatal Disorders: 

It's vital to understand the signs of postnatal depression and other mood disorders. These can manifest differently depending on the individual, but common signs include persistent sadness, anxiety, and fatigue that interfere with daily life. Creating an environment where mums feel safe to seek help is essential.

Postnatal disorders can significantly impact a mother's well-being and her ability to care for her child. Here's a closer look at the recognition and support for these conditions:

Types of Postnatal Disorders

Postnatal Depression (PND):

  • Symptoms: Persistent sadness, low energy, feelings of worthlessness, non-bonding with the baby, and withdrawal from contact with others.

  • Frequency: It's one of the most common postnatal emotional disturbances, affecting approximately 1 in 7 new mothers.

Postnatal Anxiety:

  • Symptoms: Constant worry, feelings of fear or panic, rapid heartbeat, and excessive concern about the baby’s health.

  • Frequency: Often co-occurs with postnatal depression but can also stand alone affecting mother’s day-to-day functioning.

Postnatal Psychosis:

  • Symptoms: A rare but severe illness that can develop suddenly in the first few weeks after childbirth. Symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, irrational judgments, and extreme mood swings.

  • Frequency: It affects about 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 mothers and requires immediate medical intervention.

Postnatal Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

  • Symptoms: Compulsions and obsessions that are often centered around the baby's health or safety.

  • Frequency: Can be particularly distressing and may interfere significantly with parenting.

Recognizing Postnatal Disorders

  • Early Recognition: It’s essential for partners, family members, and healthcare providers to be aware of the signs of postnatal disorders. Early recognition leads to earlier support and treatment, which can significantly improve outcomes.

  • Regular Screening: Healthcare providers should conduct regular mental health screenings during prenatal visits and continue them postpartum. Tools like the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) are commonly used.

Supporting Mothers with Postnatal Disorders

  • Professional Help: Encourage seeking help from mental health professionals. Treatments can include therapy, medication, or a combination of both, tailored to the individual’s needs.

  • Educational Resources: Providing educational materials about postnatal disorders in prenatal classes can prepare mothers and families for potential challenges.

  • Support Networks: Facilitate or provide information about support groups and networks for mothers experiencing similar issues. This peer support can be invaluable.

  • Family Support: Encourage families to support the mother by helping with household duties, offering emotional support, and giving her time to rest and attend healthcare appointments.

Creating a Supportive Environment

  • Stigma Reduction: Work towards reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues in the postnatal period. Public health campaigns and open discussions about mental health can help normalize these conversations.

  • Policy Support: Advocate for policies that support maternal mental health, such as adequate maternity leave, access to mental health services, and affordable childcare.

Understanding and addressing postnatal mental health issues not only supports mothers but also promotes healthy development for their children. It is an integral part of maternal and child healthcare that deserves attention and resources.

Ongoing Support Systems: 

The journey of motherhood doesn’t end with infancy. Mums of toddlers, teenagers, and even adult children can experience stress and anxiety. Support systems, whether through family, friends, or professional services, can provide necessary relief and validation of their experiences.

Breaking the Stigma.

These support systems can come from various sources, including family, friends, healthcare providers, and community resources. Here are some of the primary ongoing support systems that can help mothers:

Family and Social Support:

  • Description: Support from partners, family members, and friends can be invaluable. This can include practical support, like helping with childcare and household tasks, as well as emotional support.

  • Benefits: Social support helps reduce feelings of isolation, provides a network for sharing concerns and experiences, and can significantly alleviate stress.

Professional Mental Health Services:

  • Description: Access to mental health professionals such as psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors who specialize in maternal mental health.

  • Benefits: Professional guidance can help manage symptoms of postpartum depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions through therapy and, if necessary, medication.

Support Groups:

  • Description: Both in-person and online support groups can connect mothers experiencing similar challenges. These groups provide a space to share experiences, advice, and encouragement.

  • Benefits: Helps mothers feel understood and less alone; also provides a platform for learning new coping strategies and gaining emotional comfort from peers.

Parenting Classes and Workshops:

  • Description: These classes offer education on various aspects of parenting, from infant care to managing toddler tantrums, which can reduce anxiety related to parenting skills.

  • Benefits: Increases confidence in parenting abilities and provides mothers with tools to handle various parenting situations effectively.

Healthcare Follow-Up and Screening:

  • Description: Regular postnatal check-ups can help monitor a mother’s health after childbirth, including her mental health.

  • Benefits: Early identification and treatment of mental health issues can prevent more severe complications. Regular screening for mental health conditions is essential.

Flexible Work Arrangements:

  • Description: Employers providing flexible working conditions, such as part-time roles, flexible hours, or the option to work from home.

  • Benefits: Helps mothers balance work and home responsibilities more effectively, reducing stress and promoting better mental health.

Childcare Assistance:

  • Description: Accessible and affordable childcare options relieve the burden of constant caregiving from mothers, allowing them time for rest, recreation, and personal interests.

  • Benefits: Reduces stress, improves overall well-being, and supports better family dynamics by giving mothers time to recharge.

Community Programs:

  • Description: Local community centers often offer programs specifically for new mothers, including fitness classes, arts and crafts sessions, and mother-and-baby groups.

  • Benefits: Encourages social interaction, physical health, and emotional well-being.

By establishing and utilizing these support systems, mothers can find the ongoing help they need to manage their mental health effectively during the challenging years of raising children.

Self-Care Practices for Mothers

Self-care is crucial for mothers to maintain mental health and well-being. Here are some effective practices and resources:

Physical Activity: 

Engage in regular exercise like yoga or walking to boost mood and energy.

Adequate Sleep: 

Ensure consistent sleep patterns and create a calming bedtime routine.

Healthy Eating: 

Focus on a balanced diet with whole foods to enhance overall health.


Incorporate meditation and relaxation techniques to reduce stress.


Dedicate time to personal interests and hobbies for mental refreshment.

Social Connections: 

Maintain social interactions to combat isolation and gain support.

Essential Resources for Maternal Mental Health

Access to appropriate tools and support can greatly aid mothers in managing stress:

Mental Health Professionals: 

Utilize platforms like MyResolve for online therapy.

Online Support Groups: 

Join forums on sites for community advice.

Mindfulness Apps: 

Use apps for guided meditation.

Educational Content: 

Listen to podcasts or read books focused on parenting and mental health.

These practices and resources help mothers prioritize their mental health effectively.

A Call to Action This Mother’s Day This Mother’s Day

Let's do more than deliver the customary gestures of affection. Let’s commit to supporting the mental well-being of mums by acknowledging their struggles, offering our understanding and help, and celebrating their strength and resilience. Let’s ensure that every mum knows she is not alone in her journey, and that her mental health is a priority.

In honouring mums, we recognise the immense role they play not just in the lives of their children, but in shaping a healthier, more compassionate world. Let’s make mental health a significant part of our tribute this Mother’s Day.


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