Since 2016 almost 100 organizations around the globe have been commemorating World Maternal Mental Health Day on the first Wednesday of May (WMMH Day). This May 3, five days before International Mother's Day, this group of people unites to raise awareness of maternal mental health issues, which affects around 1 of every 5 mothers. With a petition on their website, they call on the World Health Assembly and the UN World Health Organization to officially recognize WMMH Day and reach access to mental health services for all perinatal women
Even though pregnancy and postpartum can be a time of great joy and excitement, it can also be a time of significant emotional and psychological challenges for many women. Perinatal mental health, which refers to women's mental health during pregnancy and the first year after childbirth, is a crucial but often overlooked aspect of maternal healthcare.
According to the World Health Organization, around 10% of women experience mental health disorders during pregnancy and postpartum. These can include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even psychosis. Left untreated, these conditions can have a profound impact not only on the mother's mental and physical health but also on her relationship with her baby, her ability to bond and care for her child, and the long-term development of her child.
Studies have shown that maternal mental health during pregnancy and postpartum can significantly impact child development. Mothers who experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy are more likely to have infants with lower birth weight, delayed cognitive and language development, and behavioral problems later in life. In addition, children whose mothers experienced depression or anxiety during the postpartum period are more likely to have emotional and behavioral difficulties.
Women who experience depression during pregnancy are more likely to experience complications such as pre-eclampsia, premature birth, and low birth weight infants. Postpartum depression can also have long-term effects on the mother's health, including an increased risk of developing chronic depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Furthermore, untreated perinatal mental health disorders can harm the mother's physical health.
Despite the prevalence and severe consequences of perinatal mental health disorders, these conditions are often underdiagnosed and undertreated. Many women may feel ashamed or stigmatized about seeking help for mental health issues during pregnancy or postpartum or be unaware of available resources and support services.
Healthcare providers must prioritize women's mental health during the perinatal period. This includes routine screening for mental health disorders during prenatal and postpartum care, providing education and resources to women and their families about perinatal mental health, and ensuring that women can access appropriate mental health services and treatment when needed.
In addition to clinical support, several lifestyle factors can contribute to maternal mental well-being during pregnancy and postpartum. These can include maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine, getting enough sleep, seeking social support, and engaging in self-care practices such as meditation or mindfulness.
Perinatal mental health is a crucial aspect of maternal healthcare that must be prioritized to ensure the mother's and her child's well-being. You can support women during this meaningful and transformative time by signing the petition on their website: https://wmmhday.postpartum.net/call-on-the-un-to-recognize-world-maternal-mental-health-day/raising and continue to create awareness about the prevalence and consequences of perinatal mental health disorders, providing routine screening and appropriate treatment, and promoting healthy lifestyle habits.