#MyMindAndMe campaign empowers mums-to-be by encouraging them to talk about their experiences
New research from Emma’s Diary, a resource for pregnant women and new mums, shows that over half of women have experienced anxiety while pregnant, with a quarter of UK mums-to-be saying they’ve felt depressed and feared they wouldn’t be a good enough mum.
The survey of over 3,000 pregnant and new mums also shows resentment to be a key factor affecting maternal mental health - over a quarter of soon-to-be mums said they have resented their friends for not adapting social plans to include them, while over half said they felt negatively towards their partner because they had a social life, were able to drink alcohol and had more energy.
This may not come as a surprise as the mums-to-be surveyed also said they are concerned about losing their pre-baby body, their identity and even losing friends. Disturbingly, many pregnant women said they were too afraid to let anything know there was anything wrong and some believed they were unable to be helped.
“The research shows how isolated mums can feel when mothering their babies. It illuminates how worried mums are about sharing their real feelings, even with those closest to them,” parent, child and family psychiatrist Dr Kathryn Hollins stated.
“We have high personal and social expectations in the 21st century about being able to manage everything on our own as ‘supermums’. Struggling with intense emotions is quick to be seen as a sign of weakness or a reason for our baby to be taken away from us. Nothing is further from the truth. It really does ‘take a village to raise a child’. It’s so important to build up a support network around ourselves and ask for help when we are struggling because things can change for the better. You can become the happy and confident mum you want to be.”
Mental health advocate Jo Love, who talks about postnatal depression and PTSD, said, “The pressure to be a perfect mum starts way before birth and can have a huge impact on a mum-to-be’s mental health.
The problem is that there are completely unrealistic expectations put onto expectant mothers and the myth of the perfect pregnant woman is not helping. I thought that the guilt of motherhood would start the first time I accidentally bumped my child’s head, or the moment I really couldn’t stop them crying, but in fact the guilt starts almost immediately upon seeing those little blue lines on the pregnancy test!”
Emma’s Diary is striving to break the taboo of talking about mental health by showing the feelings experienced by many women going through pregnancy and life as new mums via their new campaign, #MyMindAndMe.
For more on maternal mental health, head over to our special podcast recording featuring Jess Jones, Jo Love and Lauren Marks of What I Wish I Had Known. The women explore some of the challenges around motherhood, negotiating the first few days after birth and the impact having children has had on their perceptions of their own bodies as well as their relationships, with Counselling Directory member Beverley Hills.
If you are worried about your mental health, you may benefit from speaking to a professional. Enter your location in the box below to find a counsellor near you.