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Where to Start When Seeking Support for Maternal Mental Health

Published in Behavioral Health Services, Birthing Services, Women's Services, OB/GYN Services, Mental Health, For the Health of It Author: Angela Williams Schroden,MS,LPCC

Having a baby can be both exciting and challenging. Life-altering moments like pregnancy, birth and early parenthood can be stressful for women and their partners. Changing hormones can play a part in this. As a result, women may undergo a period of poor mental health or a worsening of previous mental health conditions. It’s a common experience that can affect anyone before, during or up to a year after pregnancy.

In the United States, one in five women suffer from maternal mental health issues during and after pregnancy. Among women with mental health conditions while pregnant or after giving birth, 20 percent will experience suicidal thoughts or self-harm.

Ignoring your mental health risks your overall health and well-being and impacts your infant’s physical and emotional development. When you’re struggling with mental health issues, it is important to seek help.

When should I get help with mental health issues after having a baby?

It’s OK to not be OK. There is no shame in seeking help for your mental health. You are not alone in your battle with mental illness. Help is confidential and non-judgmental unless you plan to hurt yourself or someone else. Prioritize your mental health, just as you would your physical health. Please know that your mental health is important and there are many people and organizations available to help you.

You should seek help from a professional if you have:

  • A low/negative mood most days
  • Lost interest in things that you once enjoyed
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed by life and it impacts your mood and daily functioning
  • Trouble controlling your emotions
  • Anxious, intrusive or racing thoughts
  • Eating and/or sleeping habits that have changed
  • Certain habits that are becoming problematic, such as excessive drinking, drug use, gambling or other risky behaviors
  • Experienced trauma, such as a car accident, the death of a loved one, or physical or sexual assault
  • Low self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Relationship problems with a romantic partner, family member, friend or co-worker
  • A hard time dealing with stress related to work, family or school
  • Been withdrawing from social relationships and/or social activities
  • Engaged in self-harming behaviors
  • Suicidal thoughts, plans or intent
  • Thoughts of harming others

In summary, if you think you might need help, don’t hesitate to seek it at any time and for any reason. Follow your instincts.

Where do I go to get help for a mental health issue after having a baby?

Find your support system and ask for help. Talk to your OB/GYN or primary care clinician about available resources.

You also can find support at:

  • Maternal Mental Health
    Call, text or chat via the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline if you're struggling. Crisis counselors are available 24/7.
  • Postpartum Support International
    Call or text 800-944-4773. This organization provides connections, support and resources to families during pregnancy, after pregnancy, and related to pregnancy and infant loss.
  • Birth Trauma Support for Black, Indigenous, People of Color Birthers
    Did you feel unsupported during childbirth? Did you feel unheard or felt a loss of control? Have you been grieving your birth experience? Birth trauma is based on your perception of the experience, and no formal diagnosis is needed to join this support group.
  • Black Moms Connect
    This support group is for Black mothers to connect, discuss their experiences and learn helpful tools and resources.
  • Black Moms in Loss Support Group
    This support group provides connections for Black mothers grieving the loss of a pregnancy or infant.
  • Bridge Healing Center
    Bridge Healing Center was started to provide trauma specific treatment for immigrants and people in Minnesota struggling with mental health. The Center offers culturally specific therapy services and psychotherapy services for individuals and families.
  • Apoyo de PSI para las familias hispano parlantes y Encuentros de apoyo
    This support group provides postpartum resources and information for Spanish-speaking mothers. Call 800-944-4773, #1. Text en Espanol 971-203-7773.