There are SO MANY reasons why mental health is important during pregnancy and the postpartum year. In many spaces that talk about your health during this time period, these reasons are centered on your baby’s health and wellbeing. These baby-focused reasons are super important and (for a lot of us) can be VERY motivating.
In this post, I’m focusing on YOU. Outside of your pregnancy or parenting status, you are a human being deserving of mental health. Below I’ll be sharing a bit about why your mental health matters during pregnancy and postpartum — just for your own sake.
Your mental health impacts your whole life.
Mental health is ALWAYS important — not just when you’re becoming a parent. One reason for this is that your mental health has the potential to impact EVERY area of your life (and vice versa). Your mental health has consequences for your physical health. It affects your relationships with your friends and family. It impacts your sexual health and romantic relationships. It influences your professional life and personal finances. It affects how you spend your time and what you do for fun. It can even impact your sense of purpose and meaning.
Now, think of your life as a whole. OR, think about one particular area of life that is really important to you right now. Ask yourself:
- What is my life (or this particular area of my life) like when I’m having a really hard time? When I’m burnt out, overwhelmed, or chronically stressed?
- What is my life (or this particular area of my life) like when I’m feeling my best? When I’m fully present and engaged? When I’m clear on my priorities and actually have the energy to prioritize those priorities?
The choices you make every day have the potential to move you towards one version of life or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between.
Pregnancy and the postpartum year bring a higher risk for mental health challenges.
Your mental health doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You have a very real context (some of it that’s out of your control) that influences your life experiences and overall sense of wellbeing. In different seasons of life, you’ll have different stressors that can make it hard to feel your best on a day-to-day basis. The time between pregnancy and your baby’s first birthday is definitely one of those seasons.
While becoming a parent can be exciting, it is a MASSIVE life change. When we experience change (EVEN GOOD CHANGE), we experience stress. If that stress overwhelms our existing coping strategies, we can start to experience serious mental health challenges that can make life feel a lot harder than it already objectively is. Because pregnancy and that postpartum year? Objectively, really really hard — even in the best of circumstances.
You deserve to feel your best during pregnancy and the postpartum year.
By recognizing the role your mental health plays in your life, you can take stock of what’s in your control and you can make choices that help you to feel your best. To the best of your ability, you can get out (or stay out) of survival mode and manage (or possibly even prevent) a serious mental health challenge during pregnancy or the postpartum year.
In doing so, you’re not only positioning yourself to take really great care of your pregnancy and your new baby, but you’re also taking really great care of yourself.