We’d all be lying if we said that pregnancy, birth and parenthood was a walk in the park… despite what we might all initially believe, see or hear. From Mums who post only the good stuff – and have us questioning why only we find it tough – to parenting ‘gurus’ telling us how to birth and parent with ease (?), to all the warm and fuzzy adverts where we see Mums to be and/ or Mums and babies having just the best time.
While there is a lot more honesty about how difficult motherhood can be, seeing celebrities and even friends sharing just the good bits can feel like we’re not doing or being enough!
The truth? Parenting is tough, motherhood is hard, but you are not alone, everyone will have had hard days, I know I did – I just didn’t realise it until much later. And talking about it, even 6 years later helps.
Parenting and parenting-to-be is a big job… scrap that, it’s the BIGGEST job. As we all know though this isn’t a career choice where you get days off, holidays, sick days, a wage or training though – nope it’s straight in to 24/7 shifts, non stop worrying plus doing your best while juggling the rest of life’s demands too.
In short: From the moment you see those two lines appear you are given the task of keeping a tiny person safe and well for the rest of your life. No pressure then!
And yet – it IS full of pressure – often self imposed. So we carry on, thinking it’s just us that feels like this, when it really isn’t.
These feelings can snowball though, and – before you know it – you or an expecting, new or any Mum you know – can quickly end up feeling lost, or without support. Feeling too proud to ask for help, or especially to admit that they are finding things tough. Everyone else is doing amazingly after all!??
And this is exactly it… there‘s so much support out there yet it’s often our own thoughts, comparisons and expectations which block us from reaching out.
Imagine if we all shared our experiences and talked about the reality of motherhood more freely to each other or to healthcare professionals instead – from how we feel/ felt in pregnancy, to sharing birth stories, to physical changes in our bodies, to feeling lost, overwhelmed and – let’s be honest – as though we could lose our mind at any given moment. Those kinds of things!
Whether it’s the day to day toll pregnancy or parenting takes, or it’s something on a bigger scale, these experiences not only impact our mental health, they get brushed off as being part of the job and so get missed altogether.
And that’s where this years theme for Mental Health Awareness Week comes in; The Power of Connection.
Finding support, sharing our stories, and the biggest one of all… asking for help (or looking out for signs someone might need help). It’s why we do what we do here at Seventeen Minutes, our mission being not only to help Mums make more time for them, but to feel more supported in their motherhood journey too.
We couldn’t let this awareness week pass by without honouring the campaign, as well as honouring each and every one of you.
We see you, we ARE you.
Motherhood is a tough gig and – whilst we wouldn’t have it any other way and we really love those little humans – we believe that each and every woman’s feelings, emotions and experiences deserve to be supported every step of the way.
They say it takes a village after all, and we have to agree.
Here are some things you can do to support a friend or loved one in pregnancy, early motherhood and beyond:
• Ask how they are… how they REALLY are. How many times do we say and hear “I’m fine” when we or they are anything but?! Let’s dig a little deeper and get talking!
• Send a care package to a Mum to be or new Mum; letting them know you’re there for them and that they matter, as well as reminding them to take time out too.
• Offer to help – even if they say they don’t need it (they do!). Taking food round, looking after baby whilst they go take a bath, have a nap or even do something normal like a supermarket shop alone! A little breathing space can go a long way.
• Encourage a change of scenery. Those four walls can so easily begin to feel like a prison when you’re in the fire, yet they can feel comforting, easy and safe with everything you need there too. You could offer to pick a new Mum up – reducing the anxiety of leaving the house and/ or having everything they need – then off out you go. The change in environment/fresh air will do the world of good.
What is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week?
Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week is a week-long campaign dedicated to talking about mental health problems during and after pregnancy. It’s all about raising public and professional awareness of perinatal mental health problems; supporting women who may be experiencing them, helping to change attitudes plus helping families access the information, care and support they need.
The week is organised and led by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership UK (PMHP UK), who launched the first-ever UK Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week in 2014.
PMHP UK is a small group of individuals, including women with lived experience, who joined forces to raise awareness of maternal mental health.
For more information, and details of who to speak to if you need any help visit the Maternal Mental Health Alliance. This include links to support in your area and people to talk to in a crisis. Our inbox is always open as well if you just want to chat x