We are currently in Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week with World Maternal Mental Health Day on May 6th, 2020. Organizations around the world are fighting to lift stigma and shame and it is well-needed. Did you know that maternal mental health disorders like postpartum depression are the #1 complications of childbirth? Yet, it is so frequently overlooked and minimized by well-meaning healthcare providers and/or society, putting it down to hormones and “baby blues”, often leaving the new, already overwhelmed, mother feeling lost, hopeless, and alone.
When we think about pregnancy, we are often flooded with ideas of a blissful time; full of gratitude, love, and Pinterest-worthy baby showers. When we think about motherhood, we are taught to believe that everything will come naturally; that we will instantly bond with our babies; that we will know how to soothe them, what each and every cry means, and that we will feel a fulfillment like never before.
No one tells you that this may not be your reality. No one warns you of the overwhelming amount of conflicting emotions you can experience, such as feeling the most love you could ever imagine coupled with grief for your old life, for your independence and freedom. No one warns you that breastfeeding can be painful and difficult to begin with. No one talks about the stress or trauma that your body and mind can go through for a myriad of reasons from infertility, pregnancy and infant loss, to birth trauma. No one talks about it for fear of shame, for fear of judgement, for fear that no one will understand.
We don’t talk about it because it is hard, because it’s not the picture-perfect view of how motherhood is supposed to be, but does that mean it’s okay? Are we not failing our mothers (and fathers) by ignoring it, or by talking about it. could we open up the conversation to increase awareness and support for those parents in the midst of one of the most transformative moments in their lives? Let’s not forget there are at least three relationships that we are impacting by offering support: the mother, the baby, and the relationship between the two which, as we know, is one of the most important relationships we can have.
If you are in the perinatal period (defined as pregnancy and the first year after birth) and struggling, please know that you are not alone. Reach out, speak up, seek support. You do not need to suffer and there is help available.
Ingrid Corrales, AMFT is a maternal and parent mental health specialist, supporting individuals and couples in various aspects of the pre- and perinatal stages. She has advanced training through the Postpartum Support International and brings a wealth of knowledge and support to her practice with clients.
Ingrid offers a free 15-minute consultation to see how she may support you! To learn more about Ingrid, please click HERE.