Being a parent is not an easy job. While parenthood often brings about celebration, people often overlook that it can tend to be a difficult time too. Especially for mothers, who experience a multitude of emotional changes during and after pregnancy.
Alexandra Sacks, a reproductive psychiatrist brings the talk around mental health and motherhood to the table. She helps people recognise normal emotional swings like frustration and isolation that come with the onset of motherhood. She also establishes the difference between these and more severe conditions like postpartum depression.
Alexandra calls this phase of adolescence-like awkwardness and discomfort in motherhood as “matrescence”. In an episode of her weekly podcast Motherhood Sessions, she navigates through feminism and its intersection with medicine. She talks about how working parents can maintain their bond with their kids, and tips on keeping mental well-being before, during, and after pregnancy as priority. For people who are not expecting, she lays down ways in which they can anchor new parents. These are her top 3 tips:
1. Tell them you’re there
"It's very easy to get isolated as a new mom," says Sacks. "We spend a lot of time alone—emotionally and physically—in our culture, and I think anything that can break through that is helpful."
Small gestures can go a long way in making new parents feel comfortable. For instance, you drop a text to check on them, or stay with them for a while to let them know that they’re not alone.
2. Keep supporting
If they don’t respond to your texts or calls, don’t stop checking on them. Motherhood tends to make everything hectic, so follow-up by getting in touch with them again. "Staying connected to each other is really important. It is, I would say, at the top of the list of what we can do," says Sacks.
3. Pay attention to what they have to say
While making your presence felt is a part of the process, make sure you actually listen to what a new mom has to say, or what she needs. If you have an experience of being a new mother, offer to share tips and stories to help them. "If they ask you, take a risk and maybe tell them, because this is how people feel less alone," says Sacks.
"If it's a text about what you talked about last week and you remember and you follow up, that's real empathy, and that's powerful. That transforms mental health," she says. So make sure that you keep up the communication you’ve established.