A Mother's mental health

Everyone’s mental health is delicate and should be treated with care. But i’m here to advocate for Mums. You need to know how important a Mother’s mental health is – especially if like mine, their baby doesn’t survive the journey into our world.

Farquhar & Roberts, 2017 says that there is a period of about 6 weeks post birth, during which time a woman’s body returns to a non-pregnant state. This is called the ‘puerperium’. During this phase, women deal with; the involution of the uterus, onset of lactation and psychological adjustment to motherhood. Once a baby is born, the placenta follows, which causes a massive shift in hormone levels.

THESE 6 WEEKS ARE IMPORTANT. Do I need to say that again? THESE 6 WEEKS ARE IMPORTANT…

I read an Instagram post (which conveniently I now can’t find), that talked openly about how if the external and internal factors which occur within these 6 weeks don’t leave a new Mother with the sense of peace and contentedness, the implications can result in year long healing journeys. I can relate this to the period after my first child (The ‘O’ in “Dougie and the LMNOPs) was born. She was the first grand child on one side of the family and the first girl on the other side of the family. I struggled with everyone wanting their turn and expecting they were entitled to it. I struggled with enforcing boundaries for my sanity but not being supported in making them. I felt like I was constantly defending myself… and I can honestly say that it’s taken to the death of my 2nd child (The ‘P’ in ” Dougie and the LMNOPs), to confront the anxiety that progressed out of the puerperium phase. Oh, and a lot of counselling, meditation, crying, emotional clearing and life courses… (to name a few).

The puerperium phase is an interesting one for a Mum who losses her baby within these first 6 weeks after birth (neonatal loss or stillbirth). You still deal with the involution of the uterus, sometimes the onset of lactation but additionally, the psychological effects of grief. I am beginning to wonder why the care for these women isn’t seen as critically important, considering they/we are dealing with the physiological effects of dealing with death, while still physically raw from child birth. Instead of feelings in a new Mother’s brain of love and gratefulness, it’s replaced with feelings of hurt, anger, blame and confusion. None of which are easily navigated alone.

I want to better support Mother’s who are navigating the puerperium phase after a baby loss. I want to be a friend in the form of a stranger. Someone who understands your experience and someone who can be your “cool glass of water in hell” (McKowen, 2020).

The 6 weeks after baby loss is not an easy road to travel and one i’m learning, that is not a road your partner, family or friends can travel with you for the entirety. Just like a road trip with friends or family; some people stop for ice cream, some people stop to go to the toilet and some people just keep on driving until they reach their destination. Let me be the friend to drive with you the whole way.

It’s been just over 9 weeks since Paxton died at 24.4 weeks gestation. The tough phase has come and gone but i’m just over a month away from his due date…

References

Farquhar, C., & Roberts, H. (2017). Introduction to obstetrics and gynaecology: University of Auckland

McKowen, L. (2020). We are the luckiest: USA

Helpful resources

Still Standing Magazine

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