Wednesday 6 May 2020

World Maternal Mental Health Day

It's World Maternal Mental Health Day and raising awareness of this is so important. I chat a fair bit about mental health in a roundabout way in my posts on Instagram but it's not something I've addressed directly.

To be honest, I've had anxious thought patterns since I can remember, and over the years I've had periods of very low mood and very high anxiety. Personally I find with mental health you don't realise how bad you were feeling until you're through the other side of it. It's estimated that 1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem each year so it's incredibly common, but the issue is that it can make you feel completely isolated and unable or unwilling to open up about it. For some people these phases come and go, others experience long term symptoms, but all circumstances deserve to be taken seriously. Statistically over 1 in 10 people develop a mental health issue during pregnancy or postpartum, and 7 in 10 will underplay or hide the severity of their perinatal mental illness. Sound familiar? 

As somebody "prone" to these symptoms, my mental health is something I always try to keep aware of. As with anything there are good days and bad days, I try and check in with myself to keep on top of it. For this reason I was preparing myself that I could potentially be prone to postpartum depression, but other than the "usual" floods of hormones (y'know, crying if someone offered me a cup of tea 😹) I was actually ok. I was overwhelmed as anybody with a newborn is, but I wasn't sinking. I felt, and still feel, very lucky that this was the case. But PPD (or other related conditions) can happen to anybody, during or after any pregnancy, and it's important to be aware of it.

Some things that I think helped me include hypnobirthing classes which put me in a very strong and positive headspace, I practised this from the middle of my pregnancy. I also credit placenta pills and a birth free of trauma. But most of all I was lucky to have support. The phrase "it takes a village to raise a child" is so apt and I call upon my village often. Please don't feel alone - there are groups, helplines, and even here I have found a wonderful community of mums who support and uplift each other. And please take care of your mental health - it's as important as your physical health but so often overlooked. Really get to know your "normal" so you can take action if you feel that starting to change. Most of all, please know you are not alone.

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