Maternal Mental Health Awareness: Adjusting to Life as a New Mom

Even if you don’t have Postpartum Depression or Anxiety or aren’t dealing with a miscarriage, infertility, or a loss, it doesn’t mean you can’t be struggling with your mental health after having a baby.

Being a new mom is hard work! So many things have now shifted in your life–whether you’ve decided to stay at home now, feel like you are missing your “old” life, or just feel down-right overwhelmed—it’s a lot to adapt to.

As we wrap up May and our series on Maternal Mental Health for Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s not forget about the moms who are stressed out, lonely, and feeling like they like lack adequate time to just be who they once were.

How Being a New Mom Can Affect Your Mental Health

“There is a lot of learning for a new mom,” said Michelle Lacy, Executive Director of Women’s Health Innovation of Arizona. “There are myths of motherhood that tell us we will ‘instinctively know’ what or how to do things. This puts a lot of pressure on parents especially when things don’t go as planned.”

Between figuring out feedings, nap schedules, dealing with crying, and being solely responsible for this new baby’s every need, it’s no wonder moms can feel at their limit. In addition, their body has just gone through a complete rollercoaster and that can take a toll on their mental health.

“The hormonal and physical changes that occur shortly after delivery have a significant impact on the body,” said Lacy. “In fact, women experience the single largest hormone drop in the shortest period within days after delivery. This can impact the mood.”

And let’s not forget the lack of sleep!

“Another big stressor is sleep deprivation,” Lacy says. “We tend to joke about how new moms don’t get much sleep, but sleep deprivation and the mood go hand and hand.”

How to Take Care of Yourself

“Self-care is like servicing your car. If you don’t do that, your car will stop working,” says Lacy. “We wouldn’t work any job 24/7 without breaks. Motherhood is 24/7. If we don’t fill up our cup, we will be depleted and unable to be the mom.”

Here are some simple ways Lacy recommends to care of yourself:

  • Go for a 5 minute quiet, walk around the street
  • Sit in the sun
  • Hand the baby over to partner or other support person and take a nap
  • Get out of the house on your own
  • Do a guided meditation
  • Listen to music

“It doesn’t have to be a day at the spa (although that would be great) but we have to be realistic,” said Lacy. “I encourage parents to think about what they need—emotionally, spiritually or physically.”

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, or in desperate need of a break—you are normal and it’s okay!

“Seek support,” said Lacy. “You deserve support, time, and help. Postpartum Support International’s universal message is ‘You are not alone, you are not to blame and with help, you will be well.’”