I know, this list could get long: sleep, a cook, a personal assistant, more sleep, weekly massages, a spa retreat, happy hour. These would all be wonderful things, of course, and part of the reason we want them is because we are often in need of replenishment and time to ourselves. But if we delved a little deeper, I think we might all come to a similar conclusion about what moms really want:
Moms want to be able to do their best at mothering. We want to be able to have the time and energy to give to our children and families, and we want to thrive as mothers without losing our other identities as partners, friends, family members, workers, and citizens.
So if this is at the core of what moms want, what can we do to better help moms reach this goal? We know we need big things like more quality daycare, better parental leave policies, and prenatal care for all. We need less judging and more acceptance of mothers and the decisions they make. We need less pressure to do everything and more services and structures in place to help us do our jobs as mothers.
This list could go on as well, but one of the most important things moms need to do their best is emotional and mental health support. There are so many expectations placed on mothers and so much pressure to be the caretaking epicenters of the family. Along with all of this pressure is the stigma associated with ever admitting that you are having a hard time with mothering, that you have fears and anxieties, and that maybe you are not enjoying every second of being a parent and doing this job that was supposed to come so naturally to you.
Many people believe that the lack of support for moms in our society plays a role in mental health concerns during pregnancy and postpartum. Did you know that postpartum depression is the #1 complication of pregnancy, and that 1 in 7 women will develop a perinatal mental health disorder? The numbers are staggering, and the worst part is that many women don’t get the help they need, even though there are many effective treatments for these concerns. I personally don’t remember any of my doctors or health care providers administering a depression scale or even asking me how I was doing after having my daughters.
What would happen if all of us—health care providers, family members, coworkers, partners and friends--started asking how moms are doing?
“How have you been feeling?”
“Are you getting any time to yourself?”
“How have you been sleeping and eating?”
“I remember having a hard time adjusting to being a mom. How has it been for you so far?”
They don’t have to be complicated questions because even simple ones can open up a conversation and show a fellow mom that her emotional and mental health is important and worth asking about. Let's make a commitment to moms by asking!
From May 2nd to May 6th the National Coalition for Maternal Mental Health is launching the May campaign to share messages through social media that encourage us all to ask her the question. #AskHer. To learn more click here.
If you or someone you know could use support during pregnancy or after baby has arrived, click on the Get Help tab from Postpartum Support International. Volunteers are ready to help give you the support and information you need!
I'm Lisa, a mother and psychologist dedicated to supporting moms. Read more here.
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