The Vital Importance of Maternal Mental Health

We often see motherhood depicted as a time of joy, bliss and fulfillment and while it can be all of those things, this isn’t everyone’s experience. There’s been much discussion about maternal mental health in recent years and for very good reasons. Despite all the conversation around the topic you might still be wondering what we’re even talking about when we say “maternal mental health.” It simply refers to a birthing person’s emotional and psychological well-being during and after pregnancy. We refer to this period as the time frame from pregnancy through the first year of childbirth as as the perinatal period. 

1 in 5 mothers are impacted by mental health conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth. Maternal mental health is critical particularly because of the profound impact it has on the mother. The mother’s well-being plays a vital role on not just the mother herself but also on her child(ren), the family and community.  

This perinatal period brings about significant changes that makes women more vulnerable to mental health challenges like postpartum depression and anxiety which are the 2 most common mental health disorders. These mental health challenges can be caused by a combination of biological, psychological and social stressors. What’s important to know is that it’s not the mother’s fault. It can happen to anyone, no one is to blame and it’s not a sign of weakness or inadequacy.

Maternal mental health is often overlooked and undertreated due to stigma, lack of awareness about mental health conditions and access to resources. Untreated mental health conditions can have serious consequences for the mother and her baby. When left untreated, it can result in prolonged suffering for the mother which can develop into chronic mental health disorders,  difficulty bonding with her baby and overall diminished quality of life. 

For the baby, untreated maternal mental health conditions like depression can cause preterm birth and low birth weight. It can also increase the likelihood of developmental delays and behavioral problems. The formative years of a child’s life are crucial for their cognitive and emotional development.

Partners can feel overwhelmed by the weight of added responsibilities of caring for a baby and the emotional toll of supporting a struggling loved one. The family dynamics can become strained leading to increased tension and conflict which can impact everyone’s well being and the stability of the family unit. 

Fortunately, maternal mental health conditions are treatable and there are effective interventions available such as medication, therapy and support groups. By investing in the well-being of mothers, we are not only supporting their individual wellness but also nurturing healthy and happier families, communities and generations to come. 

Kerri-Anne Brown

Kerri-Anne Brown

Hi, I'm Kerri-Anne and I'm a licensed mental health counselor in Orlando, FL. I help individuals and couples who are living with fertility challenges, perinatal loss, birth trauma and difficulties with postpartum adjustments. Please feel free to reach out anytime.

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