How To Support Maternal Mental Health Week
The postpartum period is universal. We had Dr. Sterling share what to expect in a popular prior post. Everyone has a period of weeks - months actually - of recovery and transition. First it’s physical healing, then it’s physical adjusting to breastfeeding, sleep, etc. and then there’s the much more grey emotional period that affects all women in varying degrees.
This past week has been a commitment between organizations and across media to lift the shame in talking about mental health, and specifically maternal mental health. Because biology demands a lot from women but we often forget them on the other side.
My postpartum period after both children was somewhat straightforward and I felt very lucky. But this time, I did experience more waves of sadness as I processed the change in our family dynamic and myself within it. I could objectively see I had it good - healthy, happy kids that slept well, a helpful husband, my mother and a baby nurse as loving extra hands - and still I felt disheveled, lost and overwhelmed. I isolated myself for the first three months, not wanting to see anyone until I could raise my own vibe. And candidly, I felt conscious of burdening my husband with endless emotion. So I sat there in my apartment with two little people feeling a mass of responsibility, the weight of guilt of not being my best self and not giving either all I wanted to and for the first time in my experience in mother, I felt truly alone.
At around 11 weeks, the fog lifted. My feelings were within the range of normal blues and I know my support structure was and is is far above the normal, so to think that any mother at this intense time has more deep, dark, hard emotions without proportionately more support is heart-wrenching to me.
So on behalf of them, I’ll ask what I couldn’t ask for myself. Love them extra hard. Hear them deeply. Here’s a guide to listening without dismissing which I think is helpful for all of us.
My friend Alexis of Not Safe For Mom Group and Jen of Motherhood Understood are committed to this conversation and are inviting women to share their raw moments to lift the stigma of this side of motherhood so we can see and hear women when they need it the most. Visit their pages to follow along with that movement.
As of yesterday, Chrissy Tiegen in partnership with The Alexis Joy Foundation, named for a mother who committed suicide six weeks after her baby was born, has launched #MyWishforMoms campaign to raise awareness for postpartum depression.
If you have an experience to share, adding to these collectives of stories representing the range of maternal mental health issues or sharing your story with just one friend will make a difference.