Guilt, Weariness and Fury : Unspoken Problems of Maternal Mental Health

maternal mental health awareness
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Let’s talk about something people hardly talk about : motherhood and mental health; because motherhood is tough. 
Over the last 20 years, global maternal mortality rates have fallen by 38%. However, there is still a lot of work to be done, especially when it comes to maternal mental health. In high-income countries, 13% of those who have given birth experience mental disorders. In lower-middle income countries, it’s 19.8% of women who give birth who experience a mental disorder. 
 
May is maternal mental health awareness month, which focuses on the emotional and mental health hurdles that every mother faces, but that some struggle to overcome.

During and Post Pregnancy

According to the WHO, worldwide about 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who have been given birth experience a mental disorder, primarily depression.
 
The birth (read : arrival) of a child is critical and potentially stressful experience for women, entailing the several changes both at the individual and interpersonal level. This can lead to different forms of distress, ranging in intensity and duration. Birth trauma is real. Birth trauma is isolating. 
maternal mental health
image : Hey Kiddo / google
Postpartum depression is not the only maternal mental disorders that exists. There are other common perinatal mental health issues, such as : 
  • Anxiety
  • Irritation and Rage
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Post-partum Psychosis 
The good news is that maternal health disorders  are treatable. With the right knowledge, available resources and proper trainings, healthcare providers and families can help those who are experiencing the mental health issues to help them feel better about themselves. 

Maternal Mental Health In The Time oF Coronavirus Pandemic 

This pandemic has affected everyone’s wellbeing. Everyone is affected, but not everyone is affected equally. 
Mother’s wellbeing is most affected, matching wider research showing that, while women have not been more likely to lose their jobs that men,  mothers are doing so more than fathers, in part because they face the biggest burden of lockdown – childcare.  
 
Prior to the crisis, mothers typically performed a larger share of childcare and housework than fathers did. This means that, if households continue to divide up domestic responsibilities as they did before, mothers will take on a greater share of the new responsibilities at home and will see a bigger absolute increase in the time they spend on childcare and housework. On the other hand, such a substantial shock to families’ typical arrangements could reshape how families divide paid work and unpaid household responsibilities, with many fathers now at home all day with more exposure to the scale and scope of housework and childcare.
 
The way that couples divide paid work and household responsibilities during this crisis could have an effect that lasts long after the lockdown is lifted. If, on average, mothers are more likely to step back from paid work during this crisis (either voluntarily or through temporary or permanent job loss) and are more likely to pick up more of the domestic responsibilities, they could face a long-run hit to their earnings prospects. This risks reversing some of the progress that has been made on closing the gender wage gap. This situation only amplifies the weariness. the guilt and fury that nobody really wants to talk. 

What A Person Can do : Be Her Peace 

We all can agree that an essential part of getting women the help they need to thrive as mothers will only happen when we collectively stop glossing over the rough patches of motherhood and tell the whole story.
 
If you or someone you know is struggling, let her know that she is not alone. The way to comfort her is by talking to them without any surrounding distractions or noise. Be understanding to the emotional instability that she has. She may become irritable or angry, and in denial of their illness at first, but with reassurance and comfort she will comply, just do not give up on her.
 
When speaking to her use words terminology like “we will get through this”, “together we’ve got this”, and “you are not alone” so she understands you are there for her.
All of us can share our own struggles with the mothers in our lives. We can lift up mothers who are caught by surprise by the realities of pregnancy, birth and childcare. We can keep talking about the highs and lows of the most common experience in humanity — motherhood.
Editorial notes for mothers :
If you don’t feel like you have a support network, never feel like you are alone, reach out and ask for help. It’s ok to not feel ok
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