May is World Maternal Mental Health Month, a time to focus on the mental health of mothers everywhere. While motherhood can be one of the most rewarding experiences, it can also be incredibly challenging, stressful, and exhausting. Many mothers prioritize their children’s needs over their own, leaving little time for self-care. However, self-care is essential for good mental health and well-being, and it’s crucial for mothers to prioritize their own needs as well. Unfortunately, the pandemic has only exacerbated this issue, with many mothers experiencing increased stress, anxiety, and isolation. Self-care for mothers is more important than ever before.
Why is self-care so important for mothers?
First and foremost, self-care is not selfish. Taking care of yourself is essential to your overall well-being, enabling you to be a better parent. Mothers often put their own needs last, but the truth is that you can’t pour from an empty cup. By prioritizing your own self-care, you’re not only benefiting yourself but also your children and your family.
As mentioned above, self-care is critical for mental health because it helps reduce stress, prevent burnout, and promote overall well-being. When mothers prioritize their own needs, they are better equipped to handle the demands of motherhood. Self-care can also improve relationships, boost confidence and self-esteem, and increase resilience.
You Are Not Alone
The World Health Organization reports that one in five mothers experience mental health conditions during pregnancy or the first year after childbirth. According to the WHO, maternal mental health is an essential public health concern because it affects not only the mother but also the child’s health, development, and well-being. Postpartum depression is a common condition that affects many mothers, but it’s treatable. Unfortunately, many women are reluctant to seek help due to the stigma surrounding mental health. It’s essential to break down the barriers to seeking help and create a safe, supportive environment for mothers to get the help they need.
More on Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of depression that affects mothers after giving birth. It can occur anytime within the first year of giving birth and affects approximately 10-15% of women. According to Dr. Kelly King of The Ross Center, “depression does not always look like sadness. It could be heightened irritability, a sense of numbness or detachment, difficulty bonding with her baby, or changes in aspects of functioning like sleep or appetite. A woman dealing with peripartum anxiety may have excessive fear or worry, intrusive unwanted thoughts that she has difficulty controlling, difficulty sleeping when her baby sleeps, or panic attacks.”
PPD can be caused by a variety of factors, including hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, lack of support, and feeling overwhelmed. It’s crucial to recognize the symptoms of PPD and seek help if you think you might be experiencing it. Treatment options for PPD can include therapy, medication, and of course, self-care.
Self-Care Ideas for Mothers
Motherhood comes with a busy schedule, and the idea of adding one more thing can be overwhelming. Taking steps toward self-care can significantly benefit your well-being, and it’s important to note that self-care differs for everyone. If you’re feeling overwhelmed – start small, and choose one thing at a time to incorporate into your day. Even the tiniest changes can have a significant impact.
It’s essential to take regular breaks throughout the day to recharge and rest. Whether it’s a few minutes to meditate, some time to nap, scheduling a massage or just doing something by yourself, please make sure you take the time you need to take care of yourself. It’s important to let your partner know that these breaks are essential and ask them for help. If you’re a single parent, find people you trust to help or use the time when the kids are at school or taking a nap to take some time for yourself.
Mindfulness is a technique that can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Take a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness, whether it’s through meditation, deep breathing, or yoga.
Connect with others
Social support is crucial for mental health. Make time to connect with friends and family, whether it’s through phone calls, text messages, or in-person visits. Connecting with other mothers is also very important because it’s a reminder that you’re not alone in the joys and struggles of motherhood.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is essential for good mental health and well-being. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep each night by establishing a bedtime routine and sticking to it.
Engage in physical activity
Physical activity is a great way to reduce stress and boost overall well-being. Whether it’s going for a walk, doing yoga, or taking a fitness class, find an activity you enjoy and make it a part of your routine.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, don’t be afraid to seek help. Talk to your doctor, a therapist, or a mental health professional about your concerns.
World Maternal Mental Health Month is an important reminder to prioritize the mental health and well-being of mothers. While it’s crucial to focus on this every day, this month highlights the need to address the often-secret struggles of motherhood. Self-care plays a vital role in maintaining good mental health, and it’s essential for mothers to prioritize their own needs, along with their family’s.
By taking steps to care for themselves, mothers can reduce stress and avoid burnout, ultimately promoting a better overall sense of well-being. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, and it’s essential to seek support when needed. So, in this month, let’s all check in on the mothers in our lives and ask yourself, “How can I help provide support and promote self-care?”
We Are Here To Help
The Ross Center is a leading mental health care provider that offers exceptional support in treating maternal mental health. Our team of sensitive and highly-trained staff is well-equipped to provide the necessary care and attention that women require during pregnancy and postpartum. Many of our clinicians are experienced in issues specific to women across the lifespan
If you’re struggling with maternal mental health or postpartum depression, The Ross Center is here to support you. Don’t suffer in silence – contact us today to take the first step towards a happier, healthier life.