What is Perinatal Mental Health?
Yes, you read that right! Perinatal mental health, not just Postpartum Depression. It is becoming more known but still important to get the word out that mental health challenges can impact parents during any stage of pregnancy and up to 1 year postpartum, not just right after the baby is born. Perinatal mental health also encompasses so much more than depression and includes anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and others. Studies show that 80% of all birthing individuals will experience a big shift in mood for a couple of weeks after birth- most of us know this as the ‘baby blues’. Research also tells us that anywhere from 14%-20% of expecting and postpartum parents will experience more than these blues and show signs of depression, anxiety, etc.
Why is it Important to Know about PMH?
This affects us all! Just about everyone will either have a baby, be a partner to someone who gives birth, or love someone who has a child. Unfortunately because of the stigma that surrounds mental health, many individuals do not get the support they need and suffer in silence. Even more important, suicide is one of the top 3 causes of maternal death!
How to Know If You or a Loved One Might be Dealing with PMH Challenges
It is important to be officially diagnosed by a provider but here are some signs to be aware of.
How You Can Help Or Find Help
Start with the fact that you are not alone and it is not your fault! Perinatal Mood Disorders are incredibly common and most of the reasons they come on are completely out of our control (genes, huge hormone swings after birth, and the fact that you just had a baby to name a few). Experiencing mental health challenges during this time also means nothing about what kind of parent you are and if you love your child. Let’s normalize talking about PMH so that anyone who needs support can access it! The great news is that PMH challenges are very receptive to treatment so the more you can connect with others, find professional support, and be gentle with yourself on your path to recovery the better your chance of moving through this trying time.
Remember: it is never too soon or too late to get help. And there are some great resources available. A couple of our IOME team members have specialized training and passion for supporting anyone struggling with Perinatal Mental Health. There is also a worldwide organization called Postpartum Support International that offers support groups and a 24/7 hotline! You can find them at https://www.postpartum.net/
Visit https://www.iowemenow.com/therapy to connect with one of our counselor!
Together we are better,