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Supporting Maternal Mental Health

May 28, 2024

3-minute read

As May is Maternal Mental Health Month, it’s crucial to highlight a topic often overlooked in the workplace: the mental well-being of mothers. The journey to motherhood is transformative and emotional, but it can also be met with challenges, particularly when it comes to mental health. Employers play a pivotal role in fostering environments that support mental health, not just for the well-being of mothers but for the productivity and success of their organisations as well.

Understanding maternal mental health

Maternal mental health refers to the emotional well-being of mothers during pregnancy and after childbirth. It covers a spectrum of experiences such as the baby blues to postpartum depression (PPD). The transition to motherhood is accompanied by hormonal changes, broken sleep patterns, and the responsibility of caring for a newborn.

Postpartum depression (PPD)

Postpartum depression involves intense and persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, and despair that can hinder a mother’s ability to care for herself and her baby. Approximately 1 in 10 women will experience PPD after giving birth (Postpartum Depression.org, 2023).

Neurodiversity and maternal mental health

Although an under-researched topic, neurodivergent individuals may face additional challenges during pregnancy and early motherhood. Women experience significant hormonal fluctuations during and after pregnancy impacting both their physical and mental health and it can also affect women with ADHD in unique ways.

  • Pregnancy: while some women with ADHD may find balance during pregnancy, possibly due to the stabilising of hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Others may face increased challenges, particularly with executive function or emotional regulation.
  • Medication management: Some may need to adjust their ADHD medications during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and healthcare providers can guide safe medication options. However, the fluctuation of the medication can add other challenges during the adjustment period.
  • Postpartum period: this period can be particularly challenging for women with ADHD due to sleep deprivation, hormonal changes, and caring for a newborn.

Workplace support

For many mothers, returning to work after maternity leave can exacerbate mental health challenges. Juggling the demands of work while caring for a newborn can lead to feelings of overwhelm, guilt, and anxiety. Some examples of how organisations can help their employees are:

  1. Flexible work arrangements: one of the most impactful ways employers can support maternal mental health is by offering flexible work arrangements. This could include options for remote work, flexible hours, or hybrid working. This flexibility will allow them to better balance their work and caregiving responsibilities.
  2. Mental health resources: employers should prioritise mental health support services. This could involve offering employee assistance programs, access to counseling services, or workshops on stress management and self-care. By normalising conversations about mental health and providing resources for support, workplaces can create a culture of understanding and empathy.
  3. Promote awareness and understanding: educating colleagues and managers about the challenges of maternal mental health will foster a culture of empathy, understanding, and inclusivity in the workplace. Thriiver can provide tailored Awareness Training sessions and workshops to raise awareness and promote support from the organisation.

Further support

Pregnancy is a transformational time, but if you feel you need support in any further way then don’t hesitate to get in touch with your healthcare provider or you can self-refer to the NHS Talking Therapy services. However, if you need to talk right now there are many helplines staffed by trained people ready to listen. They won’t judge you and could help you make sense of what you’re feeling.

  • To talk about anything that is upsetting you, contact Samaritans on 116 123 (24 hours a day)
  • If you’re experiencing a mental health problem or supporting someone else, call SANEline on 0300 304 7000 (4:30pm – 10pm everyday)
  • If you prefer not to talk but want some mental health support, text SHOUT to 85258 (24 hours a day)
  • PANDAS services and support for every parent or network affected.
  • OCD Action has an online perinatal OCD support group.
  • While we use the terms ‘woman’ and ‘mother’, we acknowledge that members of the LGBTQIA+ community who experience pregnancy and childbirth may not identify with these gendered terms. We recognise that pregnancy and the perinatal period uniquely impact the mental health and well-being of these individuals. For further reading see: https://www.yhphnetwork.co.uk/media/97481/phe_perinatal-care-of-lgbtqplus-individuals_290621-timings.pdf

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