Mental health issues are the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth. Women with a history of mental health issues prior to pregnancy have a significantly increased likelihood of experiencing a mental health crisis in motherhood. One in five childbearing women suffer from a mental health condition that takes on different forms such as anxiety, depression, and other clinical conditions like General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), bipolar, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Studies show screening at least once during the perinatal period can help diagnose maternal anxiety and depression. Once diagnosed, perinatal mood disorders can be treated.
Be aware of common signs of mental distress, including:
- Restlessness or irritability
- Profound sadness and frequent crying
- Withdrawing from loved ones and social isolation
- Feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness
- Loss of motivation and interest in normal activities
- Irregular sleep patterns and constant fatigue
- Lack of interest in oneself or children
You are not alone in experiencing mental health challenges. Be a strong advocate for self-care.
Feeling a deep sense of loss and even failure are common in motherhood. Reaching out to trusted sources like a healthcare provider, a supportive friend or family member is sound practice.
Sleep is a foundation for emotional and mental well-being. For a mother to get sleep when the baby sleeps might mean having to ask for help with daily household chores or letting them go for a time. Getting fresh air, sun, and gentle exercise daily, in addition to avoiding stimulants before bedtime are also recommended. Consult with a physician or healthcare provider if the lack of sleep persists.
- Know Your Signs and Seek Help Early
Anxiety and fearful thoughts are a sign the mother needs help, not a sign they are a bad parent. Opening up to a partner, a trusted friend, a family member, or a healthcare professional early on can lead to faster recovery.
- Find Support for Distress (Baby’s and Yours)
Mothers with a history of trauma can experience a range of unexpected and overwhelming feelings. Seek compassionate, trauma-informed support for your emotional needs.
- Share Your Experiences
Do not pretend all is okay when you feel it is not. Share your experiences within support groups and lessen your sense of being alone by connecting and engaging trusted friends, family, or healthcare professionals.
For immediate help call:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline:
For support contact:
Postpartum Support International (PSI): 1-800-944-4PPD (4773)
Call to leave a message, and a volunteer will call back as soon as possible to provide support and resources in your area.