Mental health, birth and parenting is so relevant for many expectant and new parents. There can be so much joy with pregnancy and having a new baby but the reality is that it can also come with anxiety and low mood.
Everyone’s experience is unique, some parents will be relaxed, others will have more worries and concerns. Some parents are open about these struggles, others will keep it to themselves.
– pregnancy –
I work with women who are anxious in pregnancy – this can be because their pregnancy comes after miscarriage or stillbirth, a previous birth may have been traumatic or there may be health concerns.
Or there can be no reason at all, other than they are pregnant.
– postnatal –
And postnatally, anxiety and low mood can be part of adjusting to life as a parent, birth can leave parents shocked and upset and feeling anxious about the responsibility of a new baby can all takes its toll.
I have spoken to so many new mums who put a lot of pressure on themselves to manage, to cope, to do it without help, to get it right, to have all the answers. The reality is that it takes time to adapt, especially with a first baby, and we are all different.
Having a new baby can also test relationships between partners, with family and between friends, which can all take its toll on someone’s mood if they then feel unsupported and more vulnerable.
Mental Health, birth and parenting – what can you do?
Talk…If you are an expectant or new parent it can be important to talk about your mood, any anxieties or any concerns – I have also found that sometimes just talking it though and having a bit of a plan can make a difference.
Be honest with yourself…Mental health awareness is for every day – try to be honest with yourself about how you are feeling, talk to someone about it and see what support you need. You might need more structured support from the perinatal mental health team or you might benefit from more ad-hoc sessions with someone like me.
Start to focus on your breathing…I passionately believe in the value of using your breathing to help keep you calm. I develop relax and breathe after my anxiety during my third pregnancy – I needed something simple and effective to head off panic and to keep me going.
Write…It helps some parents to write down their thoughts, feelings and concerns. It can be an effective way of releasing thoughts from your head, which can help to put them into perspective or it can become the basis of a list of questions to ask so you can have more of a plan of action.
Focus…On what works for you, on the positive strategies that can keep you calm and able to manage.
Accept it…This is tough but the battle can be exhausting. If you can accept any anxiety and depression, you can look at ways to manage it/work with it that work for you and hopefully get more useful support as well.
What I’ve written so far is focused more on general – but still challenging and, at times, tough – anxiety and low mood. There’s also more severe depression & anxiety which can affect pregnancy and happen postnatally, or it could be pre-existing, something you have lived with for a while.
This can need more medical support and possibly medication as well, depending on how severe it is.
Mind has some useful information about:
Reaching out and being honest about it can get you more help and support. This can be frightening and difficult but please don’t struggle on alone.
Mental health is different for everyone, with varied coping strategies and needs being effective. Please look after you.
I am on hand for to talk through pregnancy & birth anxieties, as well as providing reassurance and confidence as you find your feet with your new baby. A birth debrief session can also be very beneficial.
working with parents since 2002
Copyright: Janine Smith