Perinatal Mental Health – Let’s talk about it!

This is week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week.  The social media campaign that started today through The Blue Dot Project is asking moms to post on social media about #realmotherhood.

You know, talking about the reality that we all yell more than we are willing to admit.  We all think we are doing something wrong.  We all want the best for our kids and worry about who they will be when they grow (or will they even make it that far).  Being a mother is about a lot of pivoting and hoping that the last pivot is not going to damage our kiddos.  We are all in this together.

My goal is for all mommas to be able to support each other, even if the other person is choosing to raise their kiddo differently.  The reality is that we are in a world torn and telling us to pick sides.  We don’t need to believe that.  We are all doing our best.

With that said, it is important to talk about, what I refer to ‘glitches’ in perinatal mental health.   Perinatal Mental health issues are not something mothers can just get over.  It is not something mothers are creating for themselves.  It is not something happening to mother’s because they are weak.

Typically, when we hear a mother has ‘postpartum’ we immediately assume she is depressed and suicidal.
**but how could a mother take her own life when a baby needs her *shame/guilt* or we assume she has psychosis and she wants to harm her baby **but how could a mother ever want to harm her beautiful baby*shame/guilt**

“If you or someone you know is having suicidal or homicidal thoughts, please talk to someone! To the mother that is currently experiencing these types of thoughts, I say, “Do not let the shame of these thoughts stop you from reaching out for help. Shame will tell you not to talk to anyone. Shame will lie to you and tell you that you are a bad mother. But it is not true!  You are not a bad mother. You are ill. You need help. There is hope and healing if you would only reach out.” – A warrior of Postpartum Psychosis that we lost in 2015, Naomi K.

It does get better, with help.

What does any of this mean:
Perinatal – ‘around pregnancy’     Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder (PMAD), Perinatal Mental Health (PMH)
Antepartum – during pregnancy
Postpartum – up to one year after pregnancy
Maternal Mental Health – Duration of motherhood
Baby Blues – 50-80% of women experience this.  Last no more than 14 days (described as adjustment to new baby and cleanse of hormones)

Here are a few symptoms of those with PMADs:
Most women do not experience all symptoms, but may notice some from this list:

  • Feelings of sadness
  • Mood swings: highs and lows,
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of interest in things they used to enjoy
  • Changes in sleeping and eating habits
  • Panic attacks, nervousness, and anxiety
  • Excessive worry about their babies
  • Thoughts of harming themselves or their babies
  • Fearing that they cannot take care of their babies
  • Feelings of guilt and inadequacy
  • Difficulty accepting motherhood
  • Irrational thinking; seeing or hearing things that are not there

Risk Factors (The things that we should pay attention to and follow up quickly)

  • Any previous history of mental illness/family history
  • Depression and/or anxiety during pregnancy
  • Perfectionism
  • Predisposition to worry or ruminate
  • Life stress (loss, house move, job loss, etc)
  • Poor partner relationship
  • Low level of social support
  • Low SES
  • Unwanted pregnancy
  • History of Pregnancy Loss
  • Complications in pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding
  • Difficult infant temperament
  • Having an infant in the NICU
  • Undergoing infertility treatment
  • Multiple births

Then the Clinical Diagnosis.

  • Antepartum Anxiety
  • Antepartum Depression
  • Postpartum Depression (PPD)
  • Postpartum Anxiety (PPA)
  • Postpartum PTSD
  • Postpartum OCD
  • Postpartum Panic Disorder
  • Postpartum Bipolar Disorder
  • Postpartum Psychosis

I can go into more detail on what each is, including symptoms but I don’t think that is the point of this post.  You can find a TON of knowledge on the subject through Postpartum Support International and Mental Health America recently published an article full of great information.

So, what is my intention with this post?  To create awareness.  To breed kindness.  To support our mothers.  To let struggling mothers know that is does get better with help and they are not weak.

It does get better, with help.

Please do not let the shame of feeling defeated keep you from reaching out.  Please talk to someone about the feelings. The longer you remind silent, the longer it will manifest and all we want is for you to be yourself again.

If you are currently feeling hopeless or not yourself, please reach out for help:
Call the PSI Warmline at 1-800-944-4773(4PPD)
For Crisis, call National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
In Pittsburgh, call the re:solve crisis network: 1-888-7-YOU CAN (1-888-796-8226)
Call your OB/ Midwife / Pediatrician/ PCP.
Call a local therapist that specializes in perinatal mental health
Call your PSI volunteer coordinator to find help.

Speak Your Mind

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