Counsellor Sarah Barr has a simple guide to help friends/family support a new mum.
Statistics often say one thing about postpartum mood disorders and social media says another.
Many new mums feel like they can’t identify with the happy messages being shared on social media by other new mums.
In the early days of welcoming a new baby, many mums are homebound. Often the only outlet to the outside world is scrolling through social media. This can trigger feelings of loneliness, comparison and low self-esteem.
Perinatal and postnatal mood disorders such as depression and anxiety are the most common complications of childbirth.
Unfortunately there is still a bit of work to be done in recognising and treating mental health conditions in mothers.
Becoming a mum is a huge life transition. We often view it as easy and blissful and the most natural thing in the world.
When you’re pregnant you probably have a load of books on what to expect. Yet very few, if any of those books, focus on you as a new mum and your wellness.
By recognising that a mum’s wellness and health needs to be a primary focus in relation to creating positive outcome for her child/children. By caring for a new mum the same way we care for a new baby. By showing kindness and support, starting the conversation around maternal mental health and defeating the negative stigma attached to it.
Here are a few ideas of how you can help support a new mum:
1. When to visit
Someone you know has just had a baby. You want to head straight to her house to celebrate. But slow down.
Visiting a new mum can put extra stress on them. Sometimes making them feel they need to prove that they are coping with everything while looking great. When in reality they are trying to hide that massive pile of washing, fix their hair that hasn’t been washed in a week and trying to sit without wincing in pain.
2. Give Her the gift of me-time
Caring for a newborn is a hard work. By offering a mum of a newborn some me-time with babysitting included is sometimes the best gift. They could have a soak in a bath, take a nap or sit or lie in peace for an hour. Bliss. They will also feel less anxious as they are near-by (under the same roof) if baby needs them.
3. Bring Food
Bring food and plenty of it. Mums of new babies need to re-nourish their body after pregnancy and delivery. Sometimes with everything going on, their self-care can hit rock bottom. They often don’t have enough time to properly eat, never mind cook. Instead living off coffee and snacks.
So bring food and stock their freezer, they will be forever grateful.
We do need more services that specialise in maternal mental health. Along with a better structure in offering help to every mum of all ages and stages.
We need increased awareness about the symptoms of perinatal and postnatal mood disorders along with the willingness to seek help and support.
As a mum, your mental health matters. You deserve to have the support you need.
Take Care ~ Sarah.