Why Your Maternal Mental Health Is Important

When you have a baby, you experience a whole range of feelings and emotions. And while the media and pop culture highlight the happiness aspect of motherhood, there is a less frequently discussed aspect of pregnancy that sticks around even after the birth. Many women feel anxious, sad and depressed during this time and although these emotions typically disappear on their own –  a large number of new mothers experience a more serious form of this depression. This is no new phenomena and motherhood resources like Mommy Authority have some useful info on how you can better cope, click here for more.

Prenatal and Postnatal Depression

Although pregnancy and having a baby is supposed to be a happy time, it is normal for women to get the ‘baby blues’. The issue comes in when this develops into a long-term condition which is referred to as prenatal (antenatal) or postnatal (postpartum) depression. While not uncommon, it can seriously affect the mental health of the mother if not properly addressed. This is why it is advisable to seek treatment as soon as you notice the early signs.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Unstable moods, unexpected spouts of anger and sadness.
  • Feeling foggy, not being able to focus on anything
  • Experiencing disconnect
  • Experiencing anxiety when interacting with the baby or your other children
  • Feeling guilt or that you are failing as a mother
  • Being uncharacteristically irritable
  • Distancing yourself from people and activities you love
  • Unsettling or suicidal thoughts that won’t subside

The Importance of Your Mental Health

If not treated, the depression experienced during this time can have dangerous effects and risks, for the mother and the baby. When left untreated it can lead to behavioral changes such as not eating, alcohol and substance abuse and in the most severe cases, suicide. This in turn often leads to many development problems for the baby, as mothers who go through this form of depression might not have the desire to properly care for themselves and their developing baby. This also applies to after the baby has been born, when mothers who are depressed don’t show an interest in their child, leading to neglect. This is why your mental health is not only important for you but also for your baby.

How To Get Help

For those struggling with prenatal and postnatal depression, it is vital to ask for and get help. You can do so by consulting your doctor about what you are feeling. They will then be able to best advise you on the route you should take to get better. Remember these conditions are treatable.

Treatments could include:

  • Depression support groups
  • Counseling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication

Are Antidepressants Advisable?

The debate of whether or not the use of antidepressants during and after pregnancy is safe for use is not a new one. While some research has linked certain products to physical problems in newborns, such as physical malformations, the prescription of these drugs depends on the situation. A new mother that has a mild depression, can usually manage these symptoms through therapy. But if the depression has manifested itself in a more aggressive way, a mix of medication and counseling is generally prescribed. It is important to weigh up how much of an impact your emotions has on you and your child.

Treating It Naturally

With the controversy surrounding antidepressants, many seek out natural alternatives. In addition to therapy and support groups, you can try treating the symptoms of depression by getting enough sleep, exercising and focussing on your nutrition. Other natural remedies like acupuncture and herbal supplements could also hold some benefits. It is, however, important to ask your healthcare provider if these options are safe for you.

Prenatal and postnatal depression is a medical condition that is a very common occurrence. Remember that you are not alone in this and that there are options for you to get the help you need. What you are feeling, was not caused by anything you did, but can lead to serious issues if left untreated. Take care of your mental wellbeing and ask for help.

Disclaimer:  This is a sponsored guest post.  

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