May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month. Did you know that 1 in 5 birth givers deal with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, otherwise known as PMAD?1 Sadly, that is only the numbers that we can account for though. About 80% of cases may go undiagnosed due to a number of reasons; stigma, access to care, and lack of awareness.1 So, let’s shed some light on some key factors in mental health during the perinatal period.
Women’s hormones fluctuate DAILY. Then during pregnancy we have a dramatic increase in estrogen and progesterone (among other hormones- but these are some big ones). The fluctuation in estrogen levels can cause mood swings.3 Then after birth we have a sudden decrease in progesterone which is a hormone that typically helps to keep us “chill and relaxed”- leaving us feeling a little more on edge than normal.2 This is just looking at these hormones independently, when the balance between these hormones is disrupted, the effects can be seen in moods and mental health.2,3
Bringing a baby home is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. However, it is a transition! All your routines will need adjusting to accommodate for baby and their needs. This includes your sleep routine! Baby will need to eat about every 2-3 hours (sometimes more often)- and that includes in the middle of the night. Ultimately, disrupting your sleep. Not to mention, this brand new human being depends on you for EVERYTHING. That in itself can be intimidating and overwhelming. These transitions on top of your already fluctuating hormones, can definitely take a toll on your physical and mental well being.
Baby Feeding Gone Awry
We have already highlighted the frequent demands of feeding your baby. If breastfeeding, it’s worth mentioning that it may be natural, but does not always happen naturally. You and your baby are learning together during this time, and sometimes more support may be needed. Getting that support can be tedious; trying to navigate your healthcare benefits, finding someone in network, or even a provider who meets your needs. Not to mention the frustration that can build when feeding your baby just isn’t going the way you planned. Continuing to add to the complex changes. It is your right under federal law to get access to baby feeding support covered by your health plan (reach out to SimpliFed to check your eligibility now).
Give yourself grace during this time. All of these changes, imbalances, and frustrations are common. But that does not mean that you have to go at it alone. You are not alone! Remember that number, 1 in 5? That means there are many others who feel or have felt this way as well. There is support available for all of us- without shame. Only strength in acknowledging our limits.
1 What are Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs)? – The Motherhood Center. (2022, June
29). The Motherhood Center of New York.
2 Progesterone: Natural Function, Levels & Side Effects. (2022, December 29). Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/24562-progesterone
3 University of Rochester Medical Center. (2020). Estrogen’s Effects on the Female Body – Health
Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center. Rochester.edu.