One researcher, Engle (2009) states, “The World Health Organization (WHO) defines maternal mental health as ‘a state of well-being in which a mother realizes her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her community’.”
Maintaining this state is no easy task! New moms are bombarded with happy and joy-filled images of new mothers and babies. Take a look on social media, and you will find plenty of posts about how awesome it is to be a mom. And yet there are many challenges to maternal mental health including things like struggles with anxiety, depression, and postpartum mood disorders. It ain’t all sunshine and roses. These rarely discussed issues can affect a mother’s ability to care for herself and her child.
For example, maternal mental health directly impacts the health and development of babies. Research has shown that a mother’s mental health can affect the baby’s brain development, cognitive function, and emotional regulation. In fact, studies have found that infants and young children of mothers with untreated mental health issues are more likely to have developmental delays, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems.
Of course, your child’s health and development are critical, but what about you, mom? Maternal mental health is also essential for your own well-being, happiness, and life satisfaction. Without adequate support and care, mothers can experience severe mental health issues, such as postpartum depression, which can lead to chronic stress and an increased risk of physical health problems. Acute maternal mental health problems are best addressed by working with a mental health professional specializing in this topic. Reach out to your physician or gynecologist if you need these resources. For moms in crisis, there are emergency services as well.
It is essential that mothers have access to the resources and support they need to prioritize their mental health during and after pregnancy. One of the best ways to maintain your maternal mental health is to plan ahead for maintaining your sense of self through the most intensive years of your mom job. What is most important to you outside of being a mom? How do you hold onto the little but important things that bring you joy aside from parenting? I offer online life coaching for moms because I am particularly passionate about this topic. Many moms feel they lose their sense of identity throughout early motherhood in particular.
As a life coach specializing in working with moms, I can help you make a plan to maintain your sense of self, attend to your maternal mental health, and overcome the inevitable obstacles you’ll face along the way. Please feel free to contact me for individual coaching and keep an eye on my upcoming webinars and workshops!
Citations: Engle, P. L. (2009). Maternal mental health: Program and policy implications. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89(3), 963S–966S. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2008.26692G