Maternal Mental Health
It’s really hard being a mother. Not only is there so much pressure to care for your baby, but there are also other pressures, including financial stressors, family problems and unavailable fathers. This can lead to mothers experiencing mental health problems including anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. This can have an impact on the way that mothers are able to respond to and care for their babies.
"We don’t always know what baby may be experiencing, but the most important thing is that we keep trying to understand them"
Maybe you have had days like this – when it feels too hard to think about your baby. This happens every now and then, but when this happens all the time, it can have a very serious impact on your baby. This is important, as research has shown that the first three years of a baby’s life impact their lifelong mental health and overall development.
So, while these things are difficult, we need to think about how the baby will be experiencing their mother’s feelings of anger, hatred, and disappointment. Furthermore, mothers whose own caregivers were struggling when they were born, might find it hard to care for their own children, creating a pattern of relationship difficulties. But the good news is that we are able to break these patterns of relating. Mothers who are aware of their own feelings and are able to think about how their baby might experience their feelings are more likely to be able to respond sensitively to their babies. We don’t always know what babies may be experiencing, but the most important thing is that we keep trying to understand them. While babies are not able to talk, they are able to communicate with us using clues such as crying, eye contact, grimacing and yawning. If mothers are struggling mentally and emotionally, it may be difficult for her to notice and respond to these clues.
At Ububele, we believe that it is essential that mothers are supported, as this will help them to process their feelings so that they don’t impact the baby. If you are struggling, please reach out to us so that we are able to support both you and your baby.
Post by Thandiwe Khumalo
Caregiver at Ububele