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May 5th is World Maternal Mental Health Day

As a way to raise awareness of maternal mental health issues, a small group of people met in late 2015 to start making plans for the first-ever World Maternal Mental Health Day. The group decided that the event should be held each year on the first Wednesday of May, close to “Mother’s Day” and “Mental Health Week” in many countries.

Before long the steering committee had grown to include representatives from around the globe, all with a common goal of increasing awareness of maternal mental health issues so that more women will get treatment and fewer will suffer.

In many countries, as many as 1 in 5 new mothers experience some type of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMADs). These illnesses frequently go unnoticed and untreated.

Statistics vary by country, but this is a worldwide concern. PMADs include postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum bipolar, and postpartum psychosis.

Women of every culture, age, income level and race can develop perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Symptoms can appear any time during pregnancy and the first 12 months after childbirth.

Estimates are that 7 in 10 women hide or downplay their symptoms. Without understanding, support, and treatment these mental illnesses have a devastating impact on the women affected and on their partners and families.

It is also estimated that 20 – 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth. In addition to grief, many of these women also experience postpartum depression. Giving birth to a premature child, or having a child spend extended time in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, can also take a toll on maternal mental health.

By increasing awareness, it will help drive social change with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of care for women experiencing all types of PMADs and reducing the stigma of maternal mental illness.

Mental health professionals, friends and relatives of new moms are encouraged to ask her how she’s really feeling.

If you would like to sign the petition calling on the World Health Assembly and the UN World Health Organisation to officially recognize WMMH Day, to be commemorated annually on the first Wednesday of May, please visit https://wmmhday.postpartum.net/

You can also join the conversation on Twitter or other social media platforms with the hashtag #maternalMHmatters.

www.lifewithababy.com is a fantastic website that offers tons of information and resources for dads, moms, soon-to-be-moms and those facing infertility.

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