For me, my maternal mental health journey started the minute I realized I might be pregnant. As someone who has survived the grief of miscarrying twins, I knew the impact stress can have on a pregnancy. I immediately became incredibly protective of my energy and minimized my stress levels in any way possible. I also became selective of who I chose to communicate my news to, understanding that energy is transferable. I didn’t tell most people until after my 1st trimester and didn’t share with social media until after my 2nd trimester.
Since becoming a mom (3 weeks ago) I have learned that things like “self care” are easier said than done when you become a momma. I have to strategize and prioritize my needs when I naturally want to give my all to my babygirl. I’m grateful to have a partner who not only supports but also creates space for my self-care and consistently checks in regarding my mental health. I know what worked for me as an individual, I just have to open my mouth and communicate my needs, to learn on my support system, and ask for help to ensure I can still have the breaks I need. If I’m not at my best, I won’t be at my best for her…and she deserves my best!
As someone who has a history with depression, suicide, and grief I knew it was important to ensure I had resources in place for managing my postpartum experience. I increased my therapy sessions from biweekly to weekly, I re-prioritized my selfcare routine, and I have communicated my triggers to my support system so they can be mindful.
One thing that helps tremendously is my commitment to honesty. Sometimes as a new mom it’s tough to adjust to everyone’s focus being on the baby and no longer seeing you as an individual. But being honest about what I’m experiencing has helped a lot. When people ask how I’m doing I make sure I answer honestly, not just the politically correct “I’m okay”.
It also helps having several friends who became moms first, so when I’m struggling I have plenty of people to reach out to. Hormones are a wild thing, so when I’m feeling something that I know is illogical it’s helpful to vent to someone who’s been there before. Lastly, I’m learning to give myself what I call Mom Grace! We hear a lot about Mom Guilt, but this has been my cure. It requires daily effort but it helps me understand I’m not supposed to be perfect and that’s okay! As long as I give my best efforts, it has to be enough! In each moment I’m giving my daughter and all others asking something of me my best effort and the rest just has to be okay! The show must go on…but there’s no need in me feeling overwhelmed and frustrated when I gave the situation my best effort.
- Tiara Nicole Riley