Dear New Mum,
How are you feeling? Becoming a new mum is a journey, and sometimes journeys can be difficult. Perhaps, from the start or along the way, you are met with challenges that leave you feeling many different emotions. Among other things, there comes the transition to motherhood, the responsibility of another blessing, baby blues, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, experiencing self-doubt, or becoming body conscious.
September is Suicide Prevention Month, and I want to take a moment to remind you that you matter. In the first year after birth, maternal suicide remains the biggest cause of death.
Emotions can come at you in a very strong way, hormone levels have increased, and there is the added stress you experience after having a new life to care for. You are not ungrateful for being overwhelmed, or for waking up experiencing immense self-doubt.
Let’s admit it, maternal mental health is not spoken about enough. The first year after a mum has had her baby can feel like a rollercoaster. There are good times but there are also super challenging ones. When the struggle is a powerful force, it can become difficult to feel like there is anything to look forward to. If this continues, then it can become difficult for a new mum to want to move forward.
If you are struggling, I want you to try to remember that you do not have to flourish through your first year. You can get through it and that is absolutely wonderful. It is okay for you to feel the way you do, because becoming a mum is no easy task.
But I said something within that sentence that I want you to hold onto: Becoming.
You are in a state of becoming, and that is a lifelong process that you are meant to figure out over time. If you are feeling rushed, try to take moments to breathe. You deserve those moments of clarity, sweet mum.
There are so many books on motherhood, and while some can offer you support, nothing compares to actually becoming a mum.
The reality is that motherhood is messy, filled with tears, celebrating burps, sleepless nights, thousand of diapers that leave you immune to odors, tons of emotions, potty training that has you running to the toilet at random hours, seasonal viruses, possible inhalers and epipens, ER visits, back to school shopping that ends up with stress-eating chocolate bars, stains on your shirt, and the constant worry that you are not doing enough.
But I want you to know that you are enough, all that you do is enough, and you will always be more than enough.
I know that I cannot take away how you feel with a few words, but I see you and your efforts are beautiful. You – with your lack of sleep, hormones that have a mind of their own, emotions that leave you wanting to cry or yell – you are beautiful. You are not your mental health struggles, even though they are possibly a big part of your life right now. The world is a better place because you are in it.
If your struggles are out of your hands, remember that there are people ready and willing to help you. It is not a weakness to seek support when you need it, because this will strengthen you over time.
Remember, mum, you make the world go round. Thank you for all that you do. May you find many reasons to smile through tears of happiness and the purest form of joy. You are so loved.
Chereen Shurafa is a mental health counsellor