Importance of emotional health for moms
‘’Will a child affect the way I live?’’, ‘’Am I ready to have this baby?’’, ‘’Will I be a good parent?’’ and ‘’How will I handle all of these new responsibilities?’’are just some of the questions a woman asks herself after she sees a positive sign in the pregnancy test.
It is a fact that both parents need to go through a lot of psychological and social digging within themselves in order to truly understand the importance of becoming a parent. However, it can be argued that moms face a lot more challenges than dads; from body changes to emotional changes. Women need to be completely conscious of the decision they have made when they decided to become pregnant.
Consequently, soon-to-be moms will hopefully pass on a stable emotional health to their unborn child as babies feel absolutely everything from the moment they are in their mom’s womb. This means that they feel the sound of music, how soft or loud their parents speak to each other, and even their mom’s emotional outbursts or periods of calm.
Whether you are expecting your first child or you are a happy mom of 3, every pregnancy, delivery and postpartum are very different from each other. This is mainly because every child is different but also because women go through lots of changes that make them feel and act nothing like they used to.
Becoming a mother is a non-stop and continuous challenge. It is one of the hardest things an individual can experience while also being one of the most wonderful rewards that could ever happen.
The importance of observation
During pregnancy a woman’s body is plagued by examinations, whether it is from medical care to family’s attention, everything and everyone is involved in the different stages a pregnancy has on a physical level.
But what happens inside a woman’s mind during these stages? How does she actually feel?
Having a baby means rebalancing life, exploring different changes and experiencing a diverse range of feelings that go from joy and happiness to guilt or sadness. What’s more, these feelings could happen at any stage of pregnancy, postpartum or in some cases during the first year after the birth or adoption of a child.
What are these changes like?
An expectant mom has a lot of physical changes throughout her pregnancy. However, the emotional changes she faces are less apparent, and thus they are given fewer considerations from those closest to her.
During pregnancy, a mom-to-be is often excited about getting to know her new baby. Once she has given birth, and the levels of hormones start decreasing.Then feelings of sadness and depression can erupt, even if that individual has never felt unhappy or distressed in her life before this.
This is more common than many people realize or are willing to talk about. It is very important for new moms to understand that after childbirth some symptoms of baby blues or postpartum depression may come up, and this is a crucial moment because, at this time, there must be understanding and support from her family, friends and medical professionals in order to help the mom go through these times.
If you happen to have postpartum depression or know someone who might have it, then we encourage you to ask for help, find a tribe or do whatever it is you can possibly do to overcome this.
You need to know and be aware that you can, and you will overcome this. Postpartum depression doesn’t last forever, and with the right support from those who are close to you and an accurate treatment then you can become an even better version of yourself, someone who is happier and healthier, for you and your child.
You need to overcome some things first
A lot of feelings start flourishing once you find out you are pregnant. If you came from a dysfunctional family, or if you suffered for whatever reason throughout your life, a pregnancy can open up something within you that will make you want and need to heal all of those unhealthy attachments you have made throughout your life.
If you are a person who has a lot of insecurities and unrealistic expectations, then this is a perfect time to start understanding them better and to know that you need to let them go.
Can you imagine if you got pregnant today and you’ll give birth next month? It would be more difficult to digest the fact that you are bringing a human being to this planet, someone that eventually, will become an adult of tomorrow’s world.
This is why pregnancies are meant to last nine months, as it will provide you and your partner the time to adjust to the thoughts and realities of what life will be like now you are both soon-to-be parents.
What can I expect to feel after childbirth?
There are a variety of feelings that are quite common once a woman has given birth and they are totally normal to feel them.
For example, if you feel exhausted or sleep deprived or if you have difficulty remembering things or even making decisions then this is perfectly normal, that is, for a couple of days or even weeks.
In fact, most women tend to feel something called ‘’Baby Blues’’. This is when feelings of sadness and worry pop up, especially the first couple of days after giving birth.
Everything is up in the surface
What you must understand is that hormones are trying to adjust to this new chapter of life, where you are caring for a tiny person who requires all of your attention.After all, they just spent almost a year inside of you; now they want to get to know you, smell you, feel you, touch you.
You may be happy one minute, and then the next minute you are all over the place, irritable, tired or moody. Even though it is normal, please be aware of your emotions and what you are reflecting on your child. If you are crying, it is very, very likely you will have a crying newborn in your arms.
If, on the other hand, your baby is crying non-stop, then be aware of what it is that you are feeling or thinking, as your baby can definitely sense it. Even though the umbilical cord was cut, you are still very much attached to each other for at least another nine months which is when a degree of separation is starting to be felt by your child.
Moreover, some women experience Postpartum Depression. This is when the feelings of being exhausted or sad are running deep within her, and they usually last longer than Baby Blues. These symptoms are triggered by childbirth and they could last up to a year after giving birth.
A woman with Postpartum Depression often feels alone, worthless. She may not be interested in food or in her child, she may feel very anxious or overwhelmed by her situation of being a mom.
Furthermore, Postpartum Depression can affect any woman, regardless of her social class, religion or profession. They may feel reluctant to talk to others about this as they feel they will be criticized or judged, especially during a time where she is supposed to be happy as she has just given birth.
In addition, there’s another more severe condition called Postpartum Psychosis, and even though it’s very rare, it still happens to some women. Moms may experience hallucinations. They may think they are hearing voices that tell them to harm themselves or their child or even seeing things that are not there, they often feel paranoid and are not able to sleep properly.
It isa very serious condition and most women need medical attention as soon as they realize they are suffering from Postpartum Psychosis. It has been suggested that women who have had other psychiatric illnesses may be at higher risk of having Postpartum Psychosis.
So if you or a person close to you has had bipolar disorder or schizophrenia (to name a few) and has recently given birth, please be there supporting her.
Taking care of yourself
The most important thing you need to understand is that your mental health must be balanced and in harmony in order to be able to take care of yourself and your little one.
Many new moms are not even aware of the things they could do to feel a little bit better, so here’s a couple of ideas for you to think about:
– Recognize and be conscious of the significant life change that you are experiencing and going through. You are now raising a child, and this will be the most important job you will forever have.
– It is ok to ask for help. Whether you want your family or your friends to be more involved, asking for help is a sign of strength.
– Do try to rest, especially whenever your child is sleeping.
– Once your OBGYN gives you an all-clear, then you can start exercising. Do it slowly and gradually though.
– Find your tribe, maybe go to a couple of meetings for new moms and see how it goes.
– Take some me-time, even if it’s only for 30 minutes, find that time to do something you want and enjoy. A long walk, a hot shower or even watch TV.
– Explore new things. Maybe you are interested in photography or writing, whatever it is be there and enjoy your moment.
– Try to be with others. Isolation can only make things more difficult, open yourself up to friends and family.
Tips for maintaining a stable emotional health:
1. You should be self-aware: Especially when it comes to your own expectations of either your pregnancy, childbirth or becoming a mom to your child. Are you being realistic with what you are dreaming and imagining? Or are you just putting a lot of stress on yourself because you want things to be done in a certain way?. One thing you will eventually learn when becoming a parent is that things are in constant change, just like your child. Embrace it!
2. Trust your instincts: Things have come a long way since other family members became parents, it is your turn now to discover how you and your partner would like to raise your child. You know more than anyone else because you have been living, feeling and feeding your baby from day 1.
3. Support each other: if you are in a relationship, then your partner and you must be supportive of each other. If, however, you are single, then find a tribe you can rely on, or have the support of a really good friend. Either way do know you are not alone, especially in times of need.
So, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the whole situation or you have isolated yourself and your child from the rest of the world, then you need to start thinking about asking for help.
It is ok to ask for help; it won’t make you less of a parent, quite the opposite in fact. You will teach your child that it is ok to not be ok, and you will show them how to become resilient even though you are going through some tough circumstances.
And above all, be very patient. You must know that it may take some time before you feel comfortable and confident again. Take one day at a time and remember to smile at yourself whenever you see yourself in the mirror.
You are doing an excellent job, mom!