author: Dr. Alli Cain
read time: 5:00
this post is sponsored by the government of York Region
Today, October 10, is world mental health day.
On this important day, where we call attention to the fact that there is no true health without mental health, I've partnered with the York Region Government to specifically highlight maternal mental health.
There is a general understanding that throughout pregnancy, a woman’s body changes. As baby grows, a bump shows, weight is gained, expecting moms experience different food and smell aversions, their joints loosen to get ready to deliver a baby. The growth of baby and mom are monitored through regularly scheduled appointments and categorized into three trimesters.
We would be well-served to have just as much awareness about the incredible change in reproductive hormones throughout pregnancy, how this affects our mental health and I contend spend time discussing the "fourth trimester" with just as much vigor as the other three.
You see, after we birth our babies, our physical body begins to change again, but it's our hormones that experience the most sudden and dramatic change of all.
The third trimester of pregnancy is characterized by heightened estrogen and progesterone.
When baby is born, both of these hormones decline rapidly. In fact, this decline can be described as the single greatest hormonal change that any human experiences. Ever.
It’s because of these substantial hormonal changes that there is a heightened vulnerability for new moms to a spectrum of mood disorders including anxiety and depression.
Add in a lack of sleep, an immune system that is recovering from it's suppressed state during pregnancy and the new stress of caring for an infant and we begin to understand why this fourth trimester requires just as much awareness, support and care as women received throughout their pregnancy.
New moms are going to find themselves somewhere on the spectrum of a mood disorder. This will impact moms emotional health, actions and relationship with loved ones. Although everyone will respond differently, no new mom is immune.
However, there is much being done already to provide support to new and expecting moms. Where I live,York Region, we are so fortunate to have access to free maternal physical, mental and emotional health support.
Here are just some of the programs available to expecting & new parents in our community:
Transition to Parenting is a 12-week course offered every six weeks for mothers with babies up to one year and pregnant women who are experiencing mood changes or are looking for support while adjusting to parenthood.
Health Connection provides up-to-date, accurate public health-related information to York Region residents, organizations and health care providers.
eChat offers expectant and new parents the ability to ask a registered nurse health questions confidentially and anonymously through online chat.
Free newsletter, YorkParent, to receive useful tips and resources
Whether you're family planning, expecting or a parent these are incredible resources for you to support the holistic health of mom.
On a personal note, I had great difficulty with breastfeeding after the birth of my first son. I made 5 separate trips to the public health breastfeeding clinic.
At each appointment, I felt supported, heard and helped. Each nurse spent one on one time focused on me. With the support of these clinics, I was able to decrease my stress and make a plan to move forward to support the health of my baby, and also support my mental health.
They say it takes a village, and our community is here offering so much support, to rise up and ensure you’re not alone in this, momma.
- Dr. Alli