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Supporting mums through difficult times – Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week 

It’s Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, and – during these strange times – it has never been more important to look out for each other, and provide support to other mums that may be finding life tough.

According to the MMHW campaign website – https://maternalmentalhealthalliance.org – more than one in 10 women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within the first year after having a baby. If untreated, these perinatal mental illnesses can have a devastating impact on the women affected and their families. In the UK, mental illness in pregnant and postnatal women often goes unrecognised, undiagnosed and untreated.

Examples of perinatal mental illness include antenatal depression, postnatal depression, anxiety, perinatal obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These illnesses can be mild, moderate or severe, requiring different kinds of care or treatment.

This year’s awareness week theme is; supporting mums through difficult times.

Although it’s crucial to get professional help and support if you are experiencing a perinatal mental health condition, or encourage our friends to seek help if they need it, here are three little ways that us mums can support each other during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond…

  • Listen without prejudice

If you’re a mum of a baby or small child, sometimes you just need someone to listen to you have a moan or cry at the end of a hard day. The world can feel very intense as a new mum especially, and having someone to talk to, seek advice from and help support you can be a real lifeline.

During this time, without baby groups or weigh-ins to go to, life can and will feel even harder for some mums. 

If any of your friends or BuumpCrew need a bit of help by way of a phone call or message exchange, be there and be open. Listen to them rant or cry if needs be, you don’t always need to solve their problems but being there as someone who has similar experiences with an empathetic ear may just work wonders. 

As always, don’t judge or criticise, we are all doing the best with what we have. 

  • Take a load off 

Single mums or partners of key workers may be finding lockdown an endless sea of chores, cooking and tidying up, as the only adult keeping the house running smoothly (or not so smoothly, in many cases!).

In the “normal” world, you could easily pop round to a friend’s house and help out by taking the baby for an hour while mum has a nap, or tidying up toys for them, but in this situation we need to think of other ways we can provide practical support to our mum buddies.

Could you cook a meal and drop it off on the doorstep, pick up some shopping or take some laundry from a mum friend, to ease the burden? There are a few socially-distanced ways we can help, without breaking any lockdown rules.  Reach out and see what you could do that might just make a huge difference. 

  • Send them something just for them 

 It can be easy to feel like your only reason for existing is to feed and look after small children, especially if you’re on maternity leave or furloughed from work at this time. Feeling like you’ve lost your sense of self can have a huge impact upon your mental health.

Why not send a little something to one of your mum friends who might need a little pick me up? A good book, a bunch of flowers, some chocolates or even a pamper box just for mum is guaranteed to make your special friend smile, and give them a treat just for them to restore their sense of self. 

A Little Pick Me Up by blogger and mum of two, Katie Portman, is a great read and one which might shed a little light into the darkness for mums at any stage of motherhood, and if you really want to pamper your mummy friend in lockdown, you could send them a ZOOM pamper box for £25 – now shipping worldwide. 

Getting help

If you know a mum that is truly struggling with their mental wellbeing, lockdown or not, encouraging them to seek professional support is the best, smartest and kindest thing you can do.

With around 10 per cent of mums experiencing mental health issues during after pregnancy, it’s important to read up yourself so you may be better equipped to spot the signs.

This week, there’s a whole host of organised events to help support women, with Facebook Live sessions and advice hubs all geared towards helping to support mums during this time. You can find a list of online events here

There is also a list of support numbers and websites on the Maternal Mental Health Week website, which may help mums to reach out and get the support they need and deserve at this season in their lives.

Additionally, mental health charity MIND, has a super informative section on their website about maternal mental health, which includes a comprehensive list of advice lines and phone numbers for mums, friends and family members to call if they need urgent advice or support. 

Let’s carry on supporting each other #BuumpCrew!  You can watch our Instagram Live with psychologist Emma Kenny about coping with lockdown here.

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