For all the wondrous moments that come with welcoming your baby into the world, motherhood can be isolating, frightening, and images of seemingly perfect motherhood are always at your fingertips on social media. Are you just expected to cope? In a word, no. It’s OK if you need help as a new mum. In fact, it’s perfectly normal if you do.
But how do I actually ask for help as a new mum?
I’m writing this post during lockdown in early 2021, when pregnant and new mums are having to rely much more on remote communication methods with their midwives and health visitors. Does this make it more difficult to ask for help? Well, the research appears to show that although some people find it easier to talk about difficult feelings over the phone, the initial reaching out can be more difficult. Perhaps it’s helpful to have a few phrases in mind if you want to tell someone over the phone that you need more support?
Here are a few ideas to get you started to ask for help with your mental health:
- I’m not exactly sure what the problem is, but I don’t feel like myself.
- I’ve been feeling odd, and I think it may anxiety/depression/something to do with my mental health.
- Honestly, I’m not coping very well at the moment.
- Could you tell me what support is available if I’m struggling with my mental health?
Who can I ask for help?
If you are struggling with any aspect of your mental health, talk to your midwife (if pregnant), health visitor or GP in the first instance. If you have experienced depression, anxiety or other mental health problems before, you may want to talk to your midwife or GP early on in your pregnancy, or even before becoming pregnant, to help think about any support you may need.
You can also contact your local Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) NHS service. These are services that you can normally self-refer to, providing evidenced-based talking therapies in primary care.
If you are feeling desperate, or like harming yourself or someone else seems like the only option, you must seek immediate support. You can call 999, or 111, where there are trained mental health professionals available to help you.
Of course, don’t forget the simple, raw power of telling a friend how you truly, honestly feel. ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’. You could practise by refusing to allow yourself to type ‘I’m fine’ in response to any messages today and typing something more honest instead. ‘I’m exhausted’. ‘I’m feeling a bit low’. ‘I’m feeling worried about something’. There is lot of support out there and you are not alone. One step at a time, Mama.