Maternal Mental Health: What You Need to Know

A mothers’ day special blog By Sradhanjali Dasgupta

Maternal Mental Health: What You Need to Know

We discuss maternal health, especially the physical aspects of expectant mothers. But the sad truth is, most of the time we forget or neglect the mental health of mothers. Mothers go through emotional changes both during pregnancy and after childbirth. So it is very important to take care of the mental health of mothers.

Today I will discuss some emotional changes during pregnancy and postpartum.

The most relevant reasons for the mental problems that arise in mothers during pregnancy and after delivery are lack of partner or social support, family violence etc. But apart from these external problems, a mother goes through many hormonal changes during and after her pregnancy, which can affect her emotional stability.

Risk factors that increase stress during pregnancy and childbirth can be analysed mainly in two ways. For example, external and internal.

We can list what external and internal factors can affect the mental health of mothers.
One, externally which can affect-
1. A difficult and unhappy childhood
2. Unplanned pregnancy
3. relationship problems
4. Past obstetric complications including reproductive problems
5. Prolonged labour and/or difficult birth
6. Multiple births
7. Child health problems
8. Child eating/sleeping problems
9. Unexpected and/or unwanted feelings about the child
10. Not the expected child (appearance, gender)
11. lack of sleep
12. low self-esteem
13. Socio-economic deprivation
14. Being a single parent

Two, internally which can affect-
Hormonal changes during pregnancy affect physical and mental changes. Pregnant women experience a sudden and dramatic increase in hormones called oestrogen and progesterone. They also experience changes in the amount and function of certain hormones. Not only do these changes affect mood, but the physical effects of pregnancy can have a significant impact on mental well-being. This hormonal imbalance greatly affects the emotional balance of mothers during pregnancy and maternity.

1. Baby Blues: Women may experience irritability, over-sensitivity, extreme emotions and significant mood swings in the days following childbirth. Up to 80 percent of new mothers experience the ‘baby blues’. (You may feel moody and irritable for a few days after the baby is born. You may even start crying for very simple reasons. Such symptoms are commonly called the baby blues.) Symptoms can be alleviated by a few days of support and understanding from loved ones. is resolved in However, if symptoms persist for more than two weeks and are associated with thoughts of self-harm, professional/specialist advice should be sought.

2. Mood Disorders: Depression: 10-15 percent of women are diagnosed with depression during the postpartum period. Pregnancy/early motherhood symptoms often manifest through depression. Common symptoms of depression includes:

1. upset
2. Irritability, anger or anxiety
3. Increased crying, often for no reason
4. Loss of interest, which was previously considered enjoyable
5. Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
6. Decreased motivation and excessive fatigue
7. Difficulty concentrating/confusion
8. Social isolation
9. Thoughts of harming oneself

3. Anxiety disorders: An estimated 13 percent of women experience anxiety during pregnancy or the postpartum period. Common symptoms of anxiety disorders include:
1. feeling stressed
2. Difficulty staying calm
3. sleep disturbance
4. Persistent or repetitive anxiety

From the above discussion we understand that hypersensitivity of a mother during pregnancy and motherhood is a very normal thing. Mothers have the most family and social support during this time. We have to remember, from conceiving a child to bringing it into the world and nurturing it through round-the-clock care is not an easy task. With the arrival of a child, the mother moves away from her normal life. From daily tasks like bathing, eating and even combing her hair, the mother cannot do many of her tasks properly, which is often the cause of dissatisfaction. In many cases, these reasons are further connected with the unloving comments of loved ones.

We should remember, a mother never neglects her responsibilities. But a little appreciation and recognition is very beneficial for his mental health and fulfilling his responsibilities. A mother also wants to have some private time; Whether it is 15 minutes to 1/2 hour. A healthy mother can raise a healthy child. Therefore, especially from husband, mother-in-law, everyone in the family needs physical and mental help.

Ending here today with best wishes to all the mothers on Mother’s Day !

Author Sradhanjali Dasgupta

Consultant Psychologist, Speaker , Learning Developmental Coach, Teacher and trainer Miss. Sradhanjali Dasgupta has been extensively working in the field of Counselling and education for the past few years in several Clinics, Hospitals, NGOs and educational sectors. She also contributes her writings and blogs in various newspapers, magazines and e- magazines Her training and workshops are both for the corporate as well as for the educational sector and are geared up for learning and development,upgradation and capacity building. She have actively taken part in many debates

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