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Maternal Minds

The first week in May this year is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme is journey to recovery!

This awareness day is only 5 years old but I am so glad it was founded by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership.

1-2% of women suffer from PTSD following childbirth, 20-78% report a fear around pregnancy and childbirth depending on the reports and 2.5-14% suffer from Tokophobia, a pathological fear of being pregnant or giving birth. I think these stats prove it is good that we raise awareness on Maternal Mental Health! Not all of us have children, but we all know a parent and indeed have them in our teams…I don’t think you need to know my personal journey but here are some things my three little humans have taught me, especially as a working Mum. I share them in the hope they help raise the awareness as we are being asked to do in the area of Maternal Mental Health.

  • 100% in every area of your life does not add up! The moment I realised I could not be 100% great employee, 100% great boss and 100% great wife and 100% great Mum was a turning point for me. Soon after, I began to give my best in each area knowing that if it wasn’t enough for someone, well then that was too bad!
  • Parental guilt is a thing! I feel guilty when I am working even now, 18 years on if it means I am not present for my children and guilty if I am off because I am not working. Laura from Shine Offline recommends taking emails off our personal phones or using a second phone in order to get a better balance in our personal lives.
  • Parenting influences women’s earnings, not men’s. A 30% gender pay gap opens up immediately after the birth of baby #1, after which things improve slightly, but it stays at roughly 20% for the next 10 years. As this report shows women have a tough enough time as it is getting to board level. Don’t let self-doubt get in your way of progressing through an organisation after having children. Anxiety increases and confidence decreases typically following the birth of a child and this does not help matters. As the only woman on the board, I suffered significantly with Imposter Phenomenon. If you do too, seek support from your employer for coaching or resources and awareness around promotion.
  • Mums aren’t always on your side. See the video! I remember when our third child, like my others had done, went to nursery so I could work someone in my circle said “I could never ever do that to my child. I believe we are not meant to have children so we can send them away to nursery.” WOW! Thanks for that! Guilt overload received!! Remember you are you- Mum the way you want to Mum- not the way someone tells you to!
  • Not everyone is a parent. Be mindful when you are talking about your children that the subject can be painful or dull for others, some can feel excluded if they cannot join in. During the pandemic, many parents have felt this as the talk steers to homeschooling. I am not saying ignore the issues, just be mindful of those around you.
  • Don’t forget your partner. Often they can be overlooked and even friends and family ask after the Mum without recognising the needs of the other parent, especially following the loss of a pregnancy or child. Making time for both of you without your children will remind you why you came together in the first place and give you chance to breathe and be better parents in the long run.

Just some thoughts to get us going in preparation for the week ahead. Let me know your thoughts and any stories you are happy for me to share to help others regarding maternal mental health…and have a lovely long weekend!

For more hints and tips follow me on social next week as I am posting daily to increase awareness around Maternal Mental Health!

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