Helen Bowden, maternity expert at Tinies, highlights some important aspects of maternal mental health and tips on how to take care of yourself after giving birth.
May marks 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 challenge.
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 (although this is very rare).
Having supported women who have experienced some or all of these psychopathologies, but most commonly, postnatal depression, this has become my field of expertise.
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 and hormonal shifts 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:
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.
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:
Remember, there is no shame in these feelings and a little progress each day adds up to big results.
In 2019, Tinies became part of the Bright Horizons® family. Tinies Maternity is their dedicated maternity branch helping families find the right maternity solutions.
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.
A Health Visitor for over fifteen years, she is also a qualified Postnatal Depression Trainer to other Health Visitors, helping them identify issues and support families. Whether you need a maternity nurse, a night nanny, or simply someone you can talk to about how you feel, Helen can help.
Visit the NHS website for more information on maternal mental health: