Creating a new life is a monumental personal achievement. New parents and specifically new mothers have an immediate change in perspective on life after delivering a child. Understanding mental health in new mothers is crucial to understanding its impact on the development of functioning members of our society.
Family Planning Interrupted
Global lockdowns influenced many to believe that we would experience a 2nd baby boom. In reality, experts found that there was only a slight birth increase from 2019 to 2020. A recent survey from Modern Fertility found that 74% of women are delaying starting a family or deciding not to have children at all due to the pandemic. Covid has also been responsible for adding increased strains on couples. A recent survey from a relationship coach found that 31% of participants felt quarantine lifestyle changes damaged their relationships. Another factor impacting fertility rates has been skyrocketing unemployment. According to findings from the Pew Research Center, American unemployment rates rose by more than 14 million due to the pandemic.
Pregnancy Mental Health Awareness
Most expecting mothers and their support systems are more aware of the physical impacts and less aware of the mental health impacts that occur with pregnancy. Medical experts found that 13% percent of expecting mothers experienced depression pre-covid. Rapid hormone changes are linked to insomnia and make new mothers more susceptible to depression and suicidal tendencies. Expecting mothers diagnosed with hypothyroidism are at higher risk of experiencing poor cognitive function. This prognosis can cause negative impacts on fetal mental and physical development.
Delivery and Postpartum Depression
Expecting mothers in the final stage of their pregnancy are often filled with a multitude of emotions. In addition to physical changes, new mothers also experience permanent changes in the brain. During labor, new mothers experience an influx of endorphins and have an immediate drop after delivery. These rapid hormone changes impact the hippocampus which controls the brain’s memory and emotion. This change is often linked to the onset of postpartum depression in new mothers. Experts found that 1 in 4 women experience serious depression during the postpartum period.
Awareness & Treatment
Early detection and treatment are beneficial in warding off antepartum and postpartum depression episodes. Antepartum, also known as the before childbirth period is the perfect time to start mental health checks. New mothers and their support systems will benefit from identifying possible high-risk factors for neuropsychiatric disorders early in the gestation period. Having a combination of clinical therapy, hormone therapy, and a supportive overall environment is essential in ensuring that new mothers remain healthy while adjusting to parenthood.