Top 10 tips for mums: Perinatal mental health
The Maternal Mental Health Alliance is supporting BBC Radio 5 live’s #mumtakeover – the UK’s biggest conversation about motherhood and mental health. Here, we share our top tips for looking after your mental health before and after pregnancy.
1) Be realistic
Many of us have visions of what motherhood might be like, perpetuated by images in the media and social media. Try not to put pressure on yourself by building up unrealistic ideals of the birth you’ll have; the activities you’ll do with your baby, or the mother you’ll be. Be prepared to be led by what you and your baby need, rather than a pre-existing plan.
You have produced a human being. That’s amazing. Looking after a baby is hard, so take it easy on yourself. Being ‘good enough’ is just fine!
2) Understand more about mental health and mental illness
In your preparations for becoming a mum, it can be useful to read more about the risk factors for mental illness and the signs of being unwell. This can help you to understand if and when you might need more help. It’s really valuable to share this information with your partner too, so that they can support you. There is a lot of useful information online, such as this fact sheet.
3) Plan and prepare
While you are pregnant, you can plan how you can look after your emotional wellbeing when baby arrives, and what you might do if you’re struggling. Tools like the Emotional Wellbeing plan can help with this.
If you have a history of serious mental illness, health professionals like your midwife and mental health team can plan with you how to manage your illness through pregnancy, birth and parenthood.
Activities like preparing meals to freeze and looking into local activities and groups in advance, can help to make things easier when baby arrives.