Maternal Mental Health Illness: Symptoms You Need To Be Aware Of

Avril Flynn, Motherboard podcast presenter, mum-of-one and midwife, is highlighting Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day which falls on May 1st.

Avril Flynn, Motherboard podcast presenter, mum-of-one and midwife, is highlighting Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day which falls on May 1st.
One of the greatest parts of my job is that I get to meet incredible women and to hear their stories. This week I had the privilege of chatting to Geraldine Walsh who has an award-winning parenting and lifestyle blog, On Heavens Hill. 
She is an amazing woman and mum-of-two who has written and spoken extensively about her struggle with postnatal depression and anxiety. Geraldine has worked incredibly hard in her journey to heal and highlighting the issue of maternal mental health.
Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day happens on May 1st. The tagline this year is #makingovermotherhood; the concept of acknowledging the tough things us mums sometimes hide, and the impact that can have on our mental wellbeing.
Being a mum is at first a very physical thing; we are pregnant, we give birth and we care for a little human… what often gets neglected is the equally important emotional side and the effect that all of this can have on our mental health.
The rates of postnatal depression are stark: 10-15% of mums will have symptoms, but all the research recognises that the real percentage is probably much higher.
So why do mums not seek help?  I think part of the problem lies in the ‘super-mum myth’.
We are bombarded with images of the picture perfect mum and it’s really hard to say when you are finding it tough.
#Makingovermotherhood and Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day aims to shine a light on the challenges of real motherhood. They recognise that while it is amazing to be a mum, lots of us struggle and we need to be more honest and seek support to help.
So how are you doing, Mama? Hopefully, while some days can be tough, you are generally feeling well.
However, if you aren’t, what can you do? The first thing is to recognise the symptoms:
  • a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
  • loss of interest in the world around you and no longer enjoying things that used to give you pleasure
  • lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
  • trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day
  • feeling that you're unable to look after your baby
  • problems concentrating and making decisions
  • loss of appetite or an increased appetite (comfort eating)
  • feeling agitated, irritable or very apathetic (you "can't be bothered")
  • feelings of guilt, hopelessness and self-blame
  • difficulty bonding with your baby with a feeling of indifference and no sense of enjoyment in their company
  • frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby; these can be scary, but they're very rarely acted upon
Sometimes you might not recognise these in yourself; it might be a partner, friend or relative who recognises them in you. So if you are nodding your head, the really hopeful thing is that there is help, hope and support.
The first step is to talk; talk to a friend, go to your GP, call your public health nurse, join a Mum and Baby group, tell your partner, your best friend, just reach out. You are not alone and you CAN feel better.
Have a listen to the podcast; Geraldine is such an amazing example of how you can feel better and heal.
The first step is to admit you are not feeling OK - and that’s OK!
So let's #makeovermotherhood.
Let’s be honest, help each other and understand the struggles that others may be going through.

Avril Flynn

Avril is a Registered Midwife, Childbirth Educator, Hypnobirth Practitioner, Podcast and Live Event presenter and mother of one.

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