Managing Maternal Mental Health

Having a baby is a huge life event and it’s only natural to experience a range of emotions throughout your pregnancy and after giving birth. If any feelings start to impact your daily life, you may be experiencing a perinatal mental health problem.

It’s important to remember, you are not alone. In a recent survey carried out by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, more than one in ten women said they developed a mental illness during pregnancy or in the first year of their baby’s life.

Recognising Maternal Mental Health

Whilst there is no exact reason why these issues occur, there are some factors that can contribute. This can include: lack of support, major life events including illness, relationships breaking down or loss of income, having previous experiences of mental health problems, or psychological trauma.

Maternal Mental Health can come in different forms and can affect you throughout different stages both pre and post pregnancy:

  • Perinatal Depression – this can occur any time from becoming pregnant to up to one year after giving birth
  • Perinatal Anxiety
  • Perinatal OCD
  • PTSD and Birth Trauma
  • Postpartum Psychosis

Mind have put together a helpful guide full of information about recognising these mental health problems and treatments available to you.

Look after yourself
Becoming a parent is a completely new experience and it is important that you don’t forget to look after number 1! Find ways to continue to look after yourself, that fit around your baby. We have put together some things you can do to help improve your mental health:

  • Sleep –it is important to rest and recharge when possible. Even just resting with your feet up will help your body heal and give you the much needed space to reenergise
  • Eat a well-balanced diet – this will not only help you maintain a healthy diet, but it will also give you more energy throughout the day. Try and eat the recommended five a day and stay hydrated
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help – your support system is important to your health and wellbeing. As well as your family and friends, there are many groups and apps dedicated to all things parenting, such as Peanut and local groups
  • Don’t put pressure on yourself – take things slowly and don’t pressurise yourself to get as much done as you used to. Your priorities have shifted, take each day as it comes and celebrate the little wins.

It’s good to talk
It can be daunting to admit that you are struggling with your mental health. Motherhood comes with numerous expectations of how you should feel and behave but it’s important to remember, there are a number of different support services available to support you throughout your journey.

“I found the first few months as a mother the hardest, due to the pandemic and a traumatic birth. I took far too long to reach out for help and support, but now realise I lose nothing by trying to do it all. I finally spoke to my close friends and family and it was a huge weight off my shoulders. I began to sleep better, eat better and enjoy the journey of motherhood between all the crying and nappies!” – Hayley

Your Student Welfare Team are also here to help. Our friendly team are available to support you throughout your studies, so do not be afraid to ask for their support and advice, no matter how big or small you think your issue is:

Phone: +44 (0)207 656 8420

Email: qahe.welfare@qa.com

How you can help
If you recognise any of the above signs in a friend or family member, it is important you support them and signpost them to help available. Often, people just need a familiar face to accompany them to an appointment, or to help them around the house. It is important to be understanding and patient if you think someone you are close to is experiencing perinatal mental health.

Join the nationwide conversation about maternal mental health on social media, using the hashtag #maternalMHmatters

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