Maternal Mental Health
Last week was maternal mental health awareness week and we launched a collection with Jac Sinnott (Sassy Jac) to coincide with it. Maternal mental health issues are those which occur in pregnancy or the first year after birth and can even begin before pregnancy, particularly if you have had difficulty conceiving or required fertility treatment. Up to 15% of women experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy, and pregnancy may exacerbate or trigger a relapse of a previous condition.
We (Claire and Jen) had a chat about our maternal mental health and with nine (NINE!) pregnancies between us we had so many different experiences! We agreed the first pregnancy after previous loss was the hardest. The stress and anxiety was off the charts and even though that pregnancy was technically “textbook” healthy we both struggled through it.
Jen started attending support groups immediately and focused on making memories of baby Jess to include in their family story. She credits this memory making activity with her mental health recovery and her resilience through subsequent pregnancies. Jen's best advice "take it one cup at a time" was the inspiration for our beautiful Sassy Jac print
Claire was referred to the perinatal mental health service by her consultant at an early appointment on her post-loss pregnancy. But she never attended the clinic. Sitting in the car outside the clinic she couldn’t work up the courage to go in. She struggled through the pregnancy without accessing the health available and it is a huge regret that she didn’t take the opportunity.
Having supported many women through pregnancy loss and pregnancy after loss her advice to them all is to take any help that’s offered and if it’s not enough to ask for more! (Shame she doesn’t take her own advice!)
If you think you are experiencing a maternal mental health issue you can ask for help from a GP, midwife, hospital consultant or Public Health Nurse at any stage of pregnancy, postpartum or pre-pregnancy and be referred to a perinatal mental health service in Ireland. There are lots of patient information leaflets available from the HSE.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on prioritising maternal mental health, how it varies from pregnancy to pregnancy and what your thoughts are on the mental health services available for mothers?