This week marks the start of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week 2022, a week-long campaign dedicated to talking about mental health problems during and after pregnancy. But what role can you play? Here are nine ways to support every new mum from blogger @wellnessandmotherhoodsupport that I found online and that were both simple but really resonated.
So have a read and think about how you can support a new mum that may be having a difficult time (keep in mind, many suffer silently…)
👉🏻Instead of: “How’s the baby?”
Say: “How are YOU? How are you REALLY doing? What have you been feeling?”
👉🏻Instead of: “I can’t even imagine what you must be feeling right now.”
Say: “What feeling are you experiencing the most right now?”
👉🏻Validate her feelings, don’t just say things like: “What are you taking about, you’re a great mum!”
👉🏻“What can I do to support you?”
👉🏻“What do you need help with right now?”
👉🏻“I’m here for you, if you want to vent, cry or need a break.”
👉🏻“Can I come by and bring you coffee or food?”*
*And don’t just ask. Most women like to try to do it all themselves, so just go ahead and do it. Say: “I’m picking you up lunch, what would you prefer?” (“And while I’m out, do you need anything else for you or baby that I can pick up?”)
👉🏻Offer to go to a doctors appointment with her if you know she’s struggling and needs an advocate on her team.
👉🏻Offer to help her find a therapist, a support group, whatever she thinks might be helpful.
If you’ve been in the trenches of postpartum, what other tips would you add? And who was the friend that supported you? Let us know, we'd love to hear your stories.
Mums need a village of support around them. Remember that 1 in 7 women will struggle with some form of perinatal mental health, it’s very likely one of your friends is having a difficult time. Check on your mum friends.
And if you or a friend need a pointer in the right direction, here are some resources to help:
Perinatal Mental Health Partnership, founders of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week
PANDAS, offering empathy and support for every parent or network affected by perinatal mental illness.