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Mental Health for Mothers: A Guide for New Parents

The transition into motherhood, often called matrescence, is a complicated, difficult, and beautiful process. Often, during this process, so much attention and care are (understandably) given to the child, that the health and wellbeing of mothers are often put to one side.

This is unfortunate, since mental healthcare during the early stages of motherhood is important not only to reduce distress but also to facilitate harmony and bonding in the home.

Let's take a moment to explore some of the most common complications and experiences when it comes to mental health for mothers, and how we can work to improve symptoms and reduce distress in both the short- and long-term.

A note on gender in this article: We understand that not all people who are able to give birth are necessarily mothers. This article uses the term "mothers" to refer to those who have children, biological or adopted, who identify as female.

Mothers Mental Health Resources on This Page:

Common Maternal Mental Health Conditions

Other Mental Health Considerations for Mothers

Fostering Mental Health for New Moms

Perinatal Therapy in Brooklyn: Williamsburg Therapy Group

Common Maternal Mental Health Conditions

Because bringing home a baby is such a transitional part of one's life, and is, particularly in the case of biological birth, often a process that involves huge hormonal changes, it's perhaps unsurprising that some mental health conditions can become more common after the weeks, months, and years after the new baby is home.

The "Baby Blues"

The most common maternal mental health concern is the so-called "baby blues".

The baby blues can be thought of as a less severe, far shorter version of postpartum depression. The Baby blues are characterized by:

  • Tiredness
  • A lack of positive feelings around the new baby
  • Changes in appetite
  • Mood swings

Around 70% to 80% of new mothers experience the baby blues, so if you're not immediately 100% thrilled with your new life as a mother in the first 1 to 2 weeks after bringing home your baby, don't worry.

The baby blues are not considered permanently harmful, and usually fade anywhere from a few days after bringing your child home to a few weeks.

Postpartum Depression

If the baby blues last for longer than a few weeks, or if symptoms are severe enough to cause distress and disorder, a mental health professional may diagnose a new mother with postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression, affecting approximately 1 in 7 women, is characterized by more severe forms of the same symptoms as the baby blues.

If you find that you are feeling empty for several weeks after bringing home your child, or are having a lot of trouble bonding with or feeling positive emotions about your new baby, you may have postpartum depression.

Postpartum Psychosis

Even more severe than postpartum depression is postpartum psychosis.

Postpartum psychosis can be very dangerous, so it's better to err on the side of caution if you think you may have it and talk to a mental health professional immediately.

Postpartum psychosis is officially described as a loss of sense of reality after bringing home a new baby.

Symptoms of postpartum psychosis can include:

  • Severe depression or anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Thoughts of harming the newborn
  • A disconnect from reality
  • Out-of-body experiences

Only in rare and very severe cases do new mothers harm their children, but if left untreated, postpartum psychosis can become more severe over time. Don't hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional or, in cases of immediate danger to yourself or others, law enforcement.

Post-Partum Depression (noun.) (1920 × 1080 px)

Postpartum Anxiety

Similar to postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety is defined as chronic nervousness or anxiety after childbirth.

Mothers with postpartum anxiety may find themselves distracted, fidgety, or preoccupied with negative thought patterns.

Other Mental Health Considerations for Mothers

Even if there is no diagnosable condition that arises in a new mother, it's still important to take care of their mental health.

Life transitions can impact mental health in very serious ways. In fact, many people go to therapy in order to help navigate life transitions of any kind. New mothers are no exception.

When you become a mother, your entire world has to shift. Whereas even just a few days ago you may have been the most important thing in the world to yourself, there's a good chance that after the baby arrived that was no longer the case.

Having a child causes changes to one's sense of self that can be hard to pin down and, if not addressed, can lead to resentment or other mental health concerns.

Your routine, too, will likely have changed. If you are in a relationship, the introduction of a child can make existing chore lists and role responsibilities totally obsolete. Couples therapy, in this case, can help you and your partner(s) find a new routine to suit your new reality with less conflict and more harmony.

Fostering Mental Health for New Moms

What actionable steps can we take as new mothers to protect and support our mental health?

A strong support network is important, but often not sufficient. In many cases, new mothers find that they can benefit from therapy with a licensed professional.

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy, or therapy one-on-one with the patient and the therapist, is a great way to sift through all of your new feelings and make progress in internalizing your new reality.

If you are struggling with a post-new-child mental health concern, a licensed therapist may be able to help you address this and reduce distress.

Even if you feel okay as a new mother, a therapist can walk you through steps you can take to support both your mental health and that of your new child.

Family Therapy

When a family grows, things often change. This is natural and indeed a part of the beauty of adding a new member to your family.

Parents and siblings alike can benefit from therapy with the whole family to ensure that everyone feels just as at home with the new dynamic as they did before.

Perinatal Therapy in Brooklyn: Williamsburg Therapy Group

If you are a new mother and you're concerned about your mental health, know that you are not alone.

Williamsburg Therapy Group is proud to provide a team of doctoral-level maternal therapists in Brooklyn with the experience and expertise you need to ensure that you, your new baby, and your new family are poised and ready to take on this new and exciting chapter of life.

Give us a call, and our client coordinator will help you find the right therapist for your needs.

Book a Therapy Session in Brooklyn Today

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