Maternal Mental Health & How it Impacts the Child-Parent Relationship
The birth of a child can be one of the most wonderful, amazing, and joyous experiences of a woman’s life. It can also be incredibly emotional and challenging, particularly if the new mother is dealing with any mental health issues. These can make it difficult to bond with her baby and feel okay and competent as a mother.
A woman may have struggled with her mental health before becoming pregnant and giving birth. She may have been in treatment for anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. She may have stopped taking medication during pregnancy and while she breastfeeds for the safety of her baby.
A new mother may also experience the “baby blues” or full-on postpartum depression (PPD). Both are caused by a sudden and dramatic decrease in hormones. While the baby blues is milder and only lasts for a couple of weeks, PPD can be much more aggressive and last for months. Mothers who suspect they are suffering from PPD are advised to seek treatment.
The Powerful Mother-Child Bond
The importance of forming an intimate bond between mother and baby cannot be overstated. The quality of this early relationship can have lasting effects on a child’s development, including socio-emotional adaptation, cognitive development, and language development.
When a mother is struggling with mental health issues, it impedes her ability to bond with and care for her baby. Depression and anxiety can result in a woman feeling disconnected from her new child.
The physical symptoms that often accompany mental health issues can also make it incredibly difficult to form a quality relationship with a new child. Women who experience everything from panic attacks to an inability to concentrate to profound exhaustion may find they have little energy to give to bonding with their baby.
Mental health issues can affect a mother’s perceptions, sensitivity an ability to interpret and respond to her baby’s signals. This decreased emotional involvement and responsiveness from the mother can lead to disrupted attachment and mental, social and emotional problems for the child later in life.
Treatment Can Help
The good news is therapy can help mothers struggling with mental health issues. By getting treatment you will have the tools and resources needed to take back control of your life.
If you’re a new mother who is currently struggling and are interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.