It's OK To Say: Coping with the mental challenges of motherhood

PUBLISHED: 21:00 01 May 2019

This week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week.

This week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week.

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This week is UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week, a week-long campaign hosted by The Perinatal Mental Health Partnership (PMHP) dedicated to talking about all things mental illness during pregnancy and after having a baby.

It also focuses on signposting support for all mums, advocating for mothers affected by maternal mental health and helping them access information to help and enable support and recovery.

Ech day has held a theme, including recovery and the positivity pot.

How easy it is to get lost in the amazing, yet all-consuming world of parenthood, sustaining the daily routines, playing catch up with each developmental stage and phase, yet maintaining life while sometimes feeling like we are treading water and at challenging times, sinking.

While some people cope well and bounce back quickly from those sinking moments, some people don't. That's OK, we're all different with varied circumstances and family dynamics. There is a world of support and help available.

Mother Rachel Venetti, 38, said: “There was no particular reason, it was the everyday for me I found challenging.

“I struggled to devote myself to my baby, manage the everyday on very little sleep, maintain relationships and juggle all that was necessary.

“It wasn't until I realised this low feeling wasn't going away, I wasn't happy and not enjoying things as much as I thought I would, that I was urged by my GP to accept some support.

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“My peer group became essential and the help I received through my referral and talking to someone at MIND made me realise I wasn't alone and that everything was going to be OK.

“My advice to anyone would be, don't wait and surround yourself right from the beginning with support and talk. Accepting support is the first step.”

When we talk about recovery, we offer a message of hope that while it is possible, how it begins and continues is unique and quite a special journey for each person.

By knowing It's OK To Say and reaching out to obtain support to begin the journey, we want hope to inspire positivity (the positivity pot), looking ahead and implementing self-care, little acts of self-love on a daily basis. Happiness is an inside job, so we must begin by looking within and assessing our needs.

Turning to someone, whether it be a friend, family member, professional, support group or charity is not about wanting to be fixed, it's about gaining support and the reassurance that everything is going to be OK.

Nobody tells you the connection you have with your own childhood impacts how you are and your parenting and at times can be confronting. It is never too late to seek help, so please don't hesitate. This can be misdiagnosed as PND (post-natal depression) when there are anchors within you responding.

Just as you remind your children to brush their teeth, mental health should be just as important. If this article achieves one thing, it's to ask you to consider how you can be mentally healthy and what you need as part of your everyday and mental health kit. For me, it's acceptance, compassion and a good listener with a daily routine.

Here's a list of helpful suggestions to apply for a better and stronger you:

Introduce a daily routine; don't neglect self-care; in a panic, ground yourself by noticing your surroundings and find beauty in the little things with long slow breaths; mental health and physical health work hand in hand, so try and get outdoors; eat mindfully and cut out sugar; consider your sleep patterns; change your mindset if necessar; always have someone to talk to; take part in baby groups and other activities; surround yourself with people to prevent isolation; don't be afraid to ask for help; and finally, be kind to yourself.

See maternalmentalhealthalliance.org for more information.

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