“We need to address this subject openly, removing the shame and stigma so that mums no longer feel that they have to cope alone.”
A survey carried out by ChannelMum.com in February 2018* has revealed almost half of new mums suffer from frightening thoughts or hallucinations - but nearly two thirds (62%) of these hide how they feel for fear of being judged negatively or having their baby taken away.
The survey also showed the most common mental health ailment suffered by new mums is anxiety,experienced by 68% of women after birth, alongside 48% who experience insomnia due to worry.
Official NHS figures show just 10 to 15% of mums experience serious mental health issues. ChannelMum.com’s survey suggests that almost two in five mums who become ill (38%) never tell anybody how they feel, and just a third confide in their GP (33%). As a result, some experts now believe there could be a ‘hidden epidemic’ of maternal mental illness.
ChannelMum.com psychologist Emma Kenny reflected on the survey: “This research has highlighted the plight of large numbers of mums in the UK and evidences that, even in 2018, postnatal depression is still no closer to being effectively dealt with. Good maternal mental health is something that every woman deserves, but due to the lack of knowledge and support this simply isn’t the case, leaving women to deal with some of the most terrifying and debilitating feelings at a time when they should be enjoying their positive new beginnings. We need to address this subject openly, removing the shame and stigma so that mums no longer feel that they have to cope alone.”
ChannelMum.com founder Siobhan Freegard agrees. “If your body is broken after birth, everyone understands and supports you. But when your mind is broken, mums still feel they have to keep it hidden.”
“We need to talk about it, normalise it and make mums realise they are not alone. You are not different or ‘going mad’ just because you experience it - but you may need professional care and help.”
The call for women to seek help is echoed by Lis Starkey-Smet in her recent article for the Counselling Directory. “If you are experiencing difficulties during pregnancy or the postnatal period, you are perfectly normal, and this definitely does not make you a bad mother. You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, and deserve to be supported and treated with compassion and understanding” says Lis.
“Please don’t suffer alone. Talk to someone about how you are feeling, whether that be your husband/partner, a close friend, a family member, your health visitor, your GP, or a counsellor or psychotherapist. There is help available to support you through this.”
ChannelMum.com is the UK's video parenting website and vlogger community. Dubbed ‘the digital village for mums’, it was launched by former Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard OBE, and curates the best video content from over 250 of the UK’s top parenting vloggers.
Visit ChannelMum.com for resources and discussions.
*Methodology: Omnibus / snapshot of UK mums, running Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th of Feb.