Survey reveals postpartum mental health often goes unaddressed
A survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults found that maternal mental health is not appropriately managed in the 12 weeks after birth.
“New moms oftentimes may feel pressured to ‘do it all,’ and because they are so busy taking care of the baby, they often forget to take care of themselves,” Beth Battaglino, RN-C, CEO of HealthyWomen, told Healio. “After all the excitement and anticipation experienced during a pregnancy, the weeks following a baby’s arrival can feel isolating and lonely for many women, as the focus often shifts to the family’s newest addition. Taking care of a new baby or babies can sometimes feel overwhelming, emotional and exhausting, and during this time of transition — or the 12 weeks after birth, also known as the fourth trimester — moms may not prioritize themselves and their mental health and well-being.”
The August 2021 survey, which was conducted by HealthyWomen and sponsored by Sage Therapeutics, found that 76% of pregnant women made a birth plan, though only 21% focused on their own mental health after the baby’s birth in their plan. Among respondents who were supporting a new mother, 84% said a mental health plan “would have been helpful,” according to the release.
“Most moms reported that it was important to have a group of friends and family to take initiative to support her and believe that sleep and the ability to take time for self-care would be helpful to her mental health and well-being,” Battaglino told Healio.
However, nine out of 10 mothers felt pressure to “do it all” on their own after birth, and new moms who refrained from talking about their postpartum depression said they wanted to avoid being bothersome or that they felt guilty and embarrassed for asking about it, according to a HealthyWomen news release.
“Based on the survey, it’s evident that there is a need for health care providers to educate soon-to-be moms and their support systems on the importance of fourth trimester planning and provide them with helpful resources,” such as Sage Therapeutics’ Check on Mom program, “which provides information and resources to help women prepare for and get the support they may need during the fourth trimester,” Battaglino told Healio.