May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness month but here at Sun Moon & Stars we recognize that humans give birth so perinatal mental health is not limited to women alone, as such you will see Perinatal Mental Health (PMH) referenced in this article.
Throughout the month we've touched on ways that perinatal mental health concerns can show up for the gestational parents as well as the non-gestational parent this can include, but is not limited to, disorders and symptoms such as depression, anxiety and psychosis. These symptoms can occur during any point of a pregnancy although it is common for some folks to experience general anxiety during the 1st trimester and it is not uncommon to experience these symptoms in the postpartum period as well.
We know whole person wellness encompasses mind, body, and spirit so its important to recognize that PMH concerns can be activated with physical stressors such as chronic illness or malnutrition, mental stressors such as relationship problems, unwanted pregnancy, and financial instability, even emotional stressors such as lack of community support or resources, and feeling isolated from friends and family.
Many of us have experienced one or more of these symptoms at some point during pregnancy or pregnancy loss so it may be easy to dismiss feelings of anxiety or depression as "baby blues" which is a period of up to 2 weeks after the pregnancy ends that leads many parents to feel anxious or depressed due to a large hormonal shift, however if these symptoms become persistent by showing up later and lasting longer it's time to seek an intervention. The earlier you seek treatment for these unsettling symptoms the easier they will be to treat.
The good news is that PMH concerns can usually be treated with simple measures such as talk therapy, peer to peer support, and medication management. If you are pregnant and have questions about how to prepare your mental health for the changes coming to your life consider talking to your OB or Midwife about steps you can take and how they can support you. Consider hiring a Doula who specifically works with a pregnant person to provide emotional, physical, and spiritual support during the biggest transitions in life. And remember that Sun Moon & Stars Holistic Health & Reproduction hosts monthly support groups for birth parents and non-birth parents.
Common ways a Doula can support your pregnancy:
Provide nonjudgmental support
Provide hands-on education for infant care and parent care
Provide lactation and infant feeding education and support
Meal preparation and light housekeeping
Preparing/cleaning pump supplies or bottles
Help parent(s) to process their pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting experiences
Screen and provide resources/referrals for postpartum mood disorders
Assist in building out support networks; assist clients in their asks for help and assertion of boundaries
Sarah Foster is a Holistic Wellness Educator and Doula in Altamonte Spring, FL that provides whole person wellness education along with Full Spectrum Doula support for all birthing peoples. This support includes providing thoughtful emotional, spiritual, and physical support before, during, and after pregnancy and pregnancy loss. If you or someone you love in interested in support let's connect! I look forward to connecting!