Maintaining your mental health as a mother is just as important as taking care of your child.
Moms give up a lot in order to raise children. The sacrifice of motherhood is openly spoken about and celebrated. However, when it comes to health though, moms frequently ignore or put their needs at the very bottom of their “to-do” list.
According to the Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative, mental illnesses are the most common complication of the perinatal period. Their research discovered that roughly 1 in 5 women will experience a mood or anxiety disorder during this time. To break it down, about 800,000 women in the United States experience some form of pregnancy related mental illness each year.
During the perinatal period, hormones go a bit out of whack and women’s bodies change rapidly. Senses like hearing and smell are heightened, meaning they become more anxious and vigilant, research shows. These biological changes in addition to social expectations, can result in a unique set of mental health challenges.
When mental illnesses are left untreated, they can become chronic and ongoing. Even years after having kids, moms can still be struggling with depression, anxiety, obsessive thoughts, insomnia, along with feelings of guilt, rage and sadness. Over time this can go beyond impacting mental health, but physical health as well.
While it can feel overwhelming and like you are alone in the mental health battle, there are plenty of everyday outlets to help you begin to feel like yourself again.
Connect with community
Ask for help. Don't be afraid to ask for help from family and friends, whether it's caring for the baby or doing household chores.
Connect with other moms Look for a mom group in your community or online. These groups can give you the chance to learn from others who are going through or have gone through the same thing and to share your own feelings.
Be with others.
Seek out other adults, like family and friends, who can provide comfort and company. Regularly create a special time for you and your partner or for you and a friend to be together.
Self care is the best care
Make time for yourself Do something for you, like getting out of the house, or taking a hot bath without interruption. If you can, have your partner, a family member, or babysitter watch the baby regularly and go visit a friend or run an errand.
Do something you enjoy Whether it is listening to music, reading a book, or watching a favorite movie, take a bit of time each day to do something you enjoy.
Be realistic You don't have to do everything. You don't have to have the "perfect" home. Just do what you can and leave the rest.
Rest when the baby rests. Sleep is just as important for you as it is for the baby. Sleep when the baby sleeps, during naps and at night.
In a lot of cases, moms are their children’s main caregiver. If moms aren’t healthy, they can’t be fully present with their kids. It is not hard to assume that healthy moms are going to raise healthier kids, allowing everyone to win.