Mental Health Support For New Mums

Helen Bowden, our dedicated Maternity expert, has taken some time to highlight some important aspects of maternal mental health and some tips on how to take care of yourself after giving birth.

13/05/2021

 

May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness month, a moment for us to remember that the perinatal period is a time of significant risk to women's mental health, with nearly 1 in 5 women suffering from some form of mental health psychopathology. 

I have had significant experience in this area as I worked as a Health Visitor for over fifteen years. During that time, I helped identify maternal mental health issues and support families coping in this situation. 

I am also a qualified Postnatal Depression Trainer to other Health Visitors to help them identify issues and support families. To help me gain further insights and expertise in this area, I studied psychotherapy at Master's level.

During the perinatal period, women can be affected by a range of issues such as antenatal and postnatal depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and postpartum psychosis, which is very rare.

I have supported women who have experienced some or all of these psychopathologies, but most commonly, postnatal depression. Therefore, over the years, this has become my field of expertise. 

SPOTTING THE SIGNS 

Postnatal depression is very different to the 'baby blues'. The 'baby blues' is a commonly used term referring to a short term dip in the mother's mood soon after birth, caused by all the new changes that come with a new baby and doesn't last longer than two weeks. 

Postnatal depression usually starts around 4-6 weeks up to 1 year after birth, and the symptoms last longer. It is essential to recognise the common symptoms early, either by yourself or by someone close to you.

According to the NHS website, the main symptoms may include:

a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood;

loss of interest in the world around you and no longer enjoying things that used to give you pleasure;

lack of energy and feeling tired all the time;

trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day;

feeling that you're unable to look after your baby;

problems concentrating and making decisions;

loss of appetite or an increased appetite (comfort eating);

feeling agitated, irritable or very apathetic (you "can't be bothered");

feelings of guilt, hopelessness and self-blame;

difficulty bonding with your baby with a feeling of indifference and no sense of enjoyment in their company;

frightening thoughts - for example, about hurting your baby; these can be scary, but they're very rarely acted upon;

thinking about suicide and self-harm.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or loved ones have recognised these behaviours in you, it is crucial that you seek help as soon as possible. It is vital to remember that postnatal depression is very treatable and has an excellent recovery rate with the right support. You can speak with your GP or your Health Visitor or Practise Nurse but most importantly, tell those around you how you feel.

SELF-CARE TIPS FOR NEW MUMS

There are lots of tips out there on how to manage maternal mental health but, in my experience, I have found these to be the best:

Getting adequate sleep, good nutrition and exercise have a massive impact on the way we feel. But having a new baby can interfere with all of these things. Try and nap when your baby sleeps during the day and rest when you can.

It's essential to be realistic with your expectations of yourself; it's good to be "good enough". If friends and family offer help, then ask them to help prepare healthy meals for you.

Be kind to yourself by reading about maternal mental health and understanding why you're feeling like this. Be aware of how common it is and that it's normal to not feel yourself after having a baby.

Look after yourself and prioritise self-care, whether it's finding the time to watch a programme you like or reading a book. It's important to reconnect with who you are.

Join parent groups such as baby yoga or walking with strollers' group; it's good to be honest, talk openly with others, and gain social support. Don't feel bad about feeling bad, and keep the conversation going about how you are feeling with those around you.

You may wish to discuss with your GP different types of medications that can help too or have professional counselling. Whatever route you choose, it's vital to get the proper treatment or engage in the right behaviours that feel comfortable for you and your baby.

Remember, there is no shame in these feelings and a little progress each day adds up to big results.


MEET HELEN BOWDEN, OUR TINIES MATERNITY EXPERT

Helen began her career as a General Nurse over 20 years ago in Glasgow before completing her Post Graduate degree in Health Visiting and a post-graduate certificate at Masters Level in Psychotherapy.

She has always had a passion for developing services for babies and children. As a result, Helen worked with the local Trust to launch a Vulnerable Children's Team for Birmingham, which she subsequently led for over five years.

 

Helen has vast experience dealing with newborns and their families and is committed to ensuring the best of care is provided to both.

There are different levels of maternity help you can access for support, and whether you need a maternity nurse, a night nanny or simply someone you can talk to about how you feel, Helen can help.

Tinies maternity can help you find the proper support for you and your newborn baby, helping you catch up on sleep and establishing your baby's routines.

maternity@tinies.com  |   07717 530 716

Get in touch


MORE MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT RESOURCES:

 

Visit the NHS website for more information on maternal mental health:

NHS - postnatal depression

NHS - Get help from a mental health charity

The Mental Health Foundation

Mind

 

 

 
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