Becoming a first-time mother is the biggest life-changing event any woman can have. Overnight, you have a new primary job: motherhood.
Mothers have the weight of the world on their shoulders, and many don’t discuss their mental health struggles while they hold everything together for the family. From pregnancy to the day children leave the nest, motherhood is filled with mental health hurdles.
There’s not just one type of mother. There are “traditional” mothers, as society defines them — women who raise children in a household with a committed partner. But there are also single mothers, foster mothers, adoptive mothers, teen mothers, mothers who went through years of fertility treatments to have children, mothers who had to turn to other options when those fertility treatments fail, mothers who lost a child to miscarriage, mothers who gave birth to stillborn babies, mothers who lost a child to an illness or accident, and don’t forget maternal figures who aren’t your “mom” at all.
For women without children, whether due to infertility or losing a child along the way, Mother’s Day can be a trigger all its own. Sales run wild for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but some companies are letting you opt out of these holiday email campaigns to avoid reminders of losing a mother or child, or in many cases, not having them to begin with.
On average, 7 out of every 10 women hide or downplay their mental health symptoms. For women worldwide who give birth, as many as 1 in 5 experience some form of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder, or PMAD. Potential mental disorders for new mothers include postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder, postpartum bipolar disorder, and postpartum psychosis.
What causes postpartum mood disorders?
Postpartum depression and other maternal mental health needs come with a lot of stigma, but the “baby blues” are one of the most physically explainable mental illnesses.
After women give birth, whether to a healthy baby or a stillborn baby, they experience a dramatic drop in estrogen and progesterone. Physical changes to the thyroid can also cause new moms to feel tired, sluggish, and depressed months or even years after birth.
Any new mom can experience postpartum mood disorders, but they are at higher risk if they have a history of depression, postpartum mood disorders with past pregnancies, or a baby with special needs.
Mothers everywhere are often afraid to discuss their symptoms and feel like an outcast — like a bad mom for needing help. The stigma that motherhood is a perfect journey, especially played out on social media, leads many mothers to think they’re not good enough when they can’t juggle work and family with no hiccups every single day.
What is invisible labor?
Societal norms dictate that women are typically the caregivers, cleaners, chefs, chauffeurs, and overall managers of the home. This puts a tremendous amount of invisible stress on women and mothers to remember to pick up the dry cleaning, get a birthday present for that birthday party this weekend, make it to the dog’s grooming appointment, and don’t forget about the bake sale!
While many modern dads are chipping in with more household responsibilities, women are conditioned to take on loads of invisible labor that can lead to anxiety and depression. Mothers also handle most of the household emotional labor, helping children and partners process their feelings, and deal with “unpaid work” — delivering services expected of them with no compensation, like running errands or cooking every night.
Beyond traditional Mother’s Day, another holiday is celebrated — World Maternal Mental Health Day. On the first Monday in May, just a few days before Mother’s Day in the United States, nations around the world focus on the specific mental health needs of mothers.
How to Help a Mom in Need
When it comes to mental health, no one can fight an uphill battle alone. If you’re a mother struggling with depression, postpartum anxiety, or any mood disorder, we’re here to help.
Contact us today to set up an appointment, and help stop the stigma of mothers being “too strong” to need help.