Maternal Mental Health – coping strategies during and after pregnancy

Hi to all my lovely mummies and daddies, I am starting to do a series of blogs, where I get guest bloggers in to write about something which I think is of importance or of use to you all. The first is all about maternal mental health as this week (4-10 May 2020) is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week.

Did you know that over 1 in 10 women in the UK develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within their first year after having a baby? Over the last decade there’s been an increase in awareness about maternal mental health issues, but unfortunately we still have a long way to go before women feel able to admit that they’re struggling to cope during pregnancy or in the first year of being a parent.

It can feel like everywhere you look there’s evidence that other parents have got it all together than that they’re managing so much better. It’s easy to start to feel inadequate, or that there’s something wrong with you or your baby if your life doesn’t match up. This is one of the reasons that many women who struggle with their mental health don’t tell anyone and try and go it alone. According to the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, 7 out of 10 women who experience pre or ante-natal mental health issues will hide or downplay the severity of the struggles they are experiencing.

Heart shapes round pregnancy bump showing how important maternal mental health is

While it’s common to experience ups and downs between broken sleep, shifting hormones and constantly changing routines, you shouldn’t dismiss periods of anxiety or depression as being inevitable. While it’s essential to speak to your GP and receive an assessment for potential mental health concerns, the best thing you can do to support your mental health is to connect yourself into a supportive group of people who are going through similar experiences. While the NCT does a great job of connecting groups of parents together who are all due at the same time, sometimes the disparity of experiences can lead people to feeling more isolated than they would otherwise. Collaborating with another mum, I started a Facebook group for parents who are dealing with mental health issues called Stop & Breathe which is free to join and has a section containing short and effective resources.

Sometimes, simply having a supportive ear is enough to help you put your worries into perspective, but other times you’ll benefit from professional advice and support. When it comes to all mental health matters, one of the best predictors for positive long-term outcomes is early intervention. There’s increasing evidence that hypnobirthing and teaching expectant mothers self-hypnosis techniques can improve antenatal mental health outcomes for both parents and the child.

By learning techniques before all the stresses and strains of parenthood arrive, parents report feeling much calmer and more confident and their babies are reportedly happier and calmer as well. If you feel as though you’re struggling with anxiety, worry or depression, having some sessions with a qualified therapist can help you learn techniques to view situations differently and be less attached to your thoughts. This then frees you up to enjoy your parenthood and to focus on building that relationship, strengthening your family.

Baby in blocks sitting on mother's bump

Abbey Robb is an award winning Integrative Therapist based in SW London. She specialises in working with clients who have chronic and complex medical conditions, anxiety and trauma. Recently she has collaborated with Krisha Davies from Super Mumma to create a free Facebook group Stop & Breathe supporting mum’s mental health. You can contact Abbey on 07754 292 812 or visit her website Abbey Robb Therapies to find out more about her work.

For information and pricing for your newborn, baby, child, maternity or family photography session in London please visit my session pages. If you have any questions or would like to make a booking please call Sara-Jane on 07958 734184, email sarajane@shutterbaby.co.uk or use the contact form. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sara-Jane x