June 2, 2024
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Maternal Mental Health Matters Too

Being a mother is one of the hardest jobs in the world. We are told to care for our children, spouses and the household, all while working, cooking, cleaning, shopping and running errands. Rarely do we get the opportunity to stop and reflect on what we need from ourselves or others. It is obvious why up to one in five women experience a maternal mental health disorder in the postpartum period. These disorders include postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, or psychosis. Especially in our culture where women are expected to return to work weeks after giving birth, with limited resources or benefits to support feeding their babies.

The judgment that exists in a woman’s world is never-ending. Either we work too much or we “only” stay at home; we are too thin or too heavy; we are too soft with our kids or we are too harsh. We can never win. When it comes to feeding our babies, there is great judgment regarding breastfeeding, which can be impossible for some women or too daunting for their mental health. We should not have to justify our choices as women, but unfortunately this is our reality even in 2024.

The pressures of childbearing, working, maintaining a household, and being a “good wife and mother” are almost too much for any one person to bear. It is no wonder why so many women are suffering in silence, holding resentment for their partners and struggling to remain afloat with all the never-ending responsibilities. It is time for us women to prioritize our needs. It is impossible to take care of others without taking care of ourselves first. A favorite metaphor comes to mind, “Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.” This can look like different things to different people, but prioritizing your mental health is of utmost importance. It will help transform you into a better spouse, mother, friend, person and employee.

This concept of prioritizing yourself may seem daunting at first and almost foreign to most of us. Some of my clients are hesitant in implementing these healthy boundaries and most usually respond with, “Who has time for ‘me’ time?” With the never-ending to do lists, how can we even think of putting ourselves first? Some other clients fear that they have lost themselves in the thick of motherhood and forgotten who they are. A client of mine shared that she is only known to people as “Liam’s mom” rather than her own name. In our culture, motherhood is often seen as sacrificing yourself for others; however, I implore you to redefine this destructive culture. Motherhood is successful when you remain who you are and ensure prioritizing yourself in the process. We cannot show up as good mothers to our children if we are not good to ourselves.

Here are some helpful tips to implementing “me” time:

  1. Schedule 15 minutes of “you” time per day. Put it in your calendar, even if it is just 15 minutes. Fill that time with something that makes you smile. Some suggestions are drinking your coffee outside, reading for pleasure or calling a friend.
  2. Practice daily affirmations before jumping out of bed in the mornings. This practice entails finding mantras that speak to you and saying them out loud before checking your phone. Some suggestions are: “I am a good mother,” “I can do hard things,” “I am strong.”
  3. Setting boundaries. Learn and practice how to say no. Saying no to a social function that is too much, or a favor someone asks of you is okay. You do not need to justify or even make excuses as to why. No is no.
  4. Attempt to take a daily walk even if it is around the block for 5-10 minutes. Sunshine and vitamin D are powerful tools; use them.
  5. Ask for help. From your partner, friend or family member. Learn how to say, “I am struggling and need you to do this for me today.” Reach out to a mental health professional who can give you the tools to take back control of your life.

Remember that you are not alone in this. Share your vulnerabilities with friends and family. Women are warriors.


Gabrielle Moskovitz is a therapist at Collaborative Minds Psychotherapy specializing in maternal mental health. She is passionate about advocating for women’s mental health access with issues such as infertility, pregnancy loss, postpartum anxiety and depression, and struggles with motherhood. Gabrielle is currently pursuing a Perinatal Mental Health Certification (PMHC) through PSI. Follow along @thecheftherapist on Instagram for tips, resources and personal stories. To schedule an appointment with Gabrielle, visit www.collaborativeminds.net/gabrielle.

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