We would like to kick off our first blog post with a discussion about the struggles that some women experience in revealing their mood or anxiety problems during pregnancy or after they have had a baby. A lot of research has been done to understand why women who experience abuse or violence to not want to talk about their struggles, but almost no research has been done to understand why some pregnant women and new mothers also feel the same way.
It is important to be able to share feelings of anxiety or depression during pregnancy or after delivery with a person who can be trusted because it can be the starting point to getting help. Why is this so important? Research shows that women who do not get help may continue to experience symptoms much longer than they need to. For example, some women who do not receive the help continue to have symptoms of depression and anxiety throughout pregnancy, after delivery, and into their children’s early years.
We only know a little about why women do not share their emotional struggles during pregnancy or as new mothers. Most women have roughly 13 visits with a prenatal care provider during pregnancy and 4 visits with a public health nurse after delivery. Yet, some women don’t reveal their struggles at any of these times. The few studies that have explored this issue have found that many pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers don’t want to take medications for their symptoms and therefore don’t tell their healthcare provider that they are struggling. There is also the very real issue that women feel that they are ‘bad’ or ‘imperfect’ mothers because of their struggles and some worry that their children will be ‘taken away’. Without knowing the reasons why women don’t share their struggles, it is difficult for healthcare providers to know how to help. When healthcare providers understand women’s struggles, they can discuss options for help and ‘bust’ some of the myths about depression or anxiety that women believe.
This is why the first study we have posted on our website focuses on 2 main topics:
(1) What keeps pregnant women and new mothers from talking about their emotional struggles?
(2) What can healthcare providers do to help women talk about their mood or anxiety symptoms?
We hope that you will consider taking part in this survey (see “Survey” on home page) because it will help to improve care for pregnant women and new mothers. The survey is anonymous and has been approved by the University of Alberta Health Research Ethics Board.