It is not uncommon for women to set very high expectations for themselves during pregnancy and when baby arrives. After giving birth, new moms might expect to get back in shape, feel rested and refreshed, maintain a clean house, prepare healthy meals for the family, and start the new baby in music, swim, or sign language classes, all while having a great hair day.
When these expectations are not met – and in reality they rarely are – a new mom may feel disappointed, discouraged, or even feel as though she has failed.
The “SuperMom” complex is one of many psychological/social risk factors for postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).
A few other psychological risk factors for PMAD include:
For instance, relationship with friends who do not have children will change. New parents will not be able to pick up and go whenever they want any more. They may find they don’t even have time for personal hobbies and activities they once enjoyed.
Any major life stressor will increase the risk for PMAD. Moving, starting a new job, the death of a loved one, a major family illness, financial struggles and divorce, to name a few, can trigger depression in anyone. Add caring for a baby, loss of sleep, and fluctuating hormones and the risk increases exponentially for new mothers.
History of trauma
If a new mom has experienced abuse, neglect or trauma of any kind, close family and friends should watch for signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety or post traumatic stress.
One of the best things we can do for women is to remind them they don’t need to be perfect.
We need to redefine what it means to be “SuperMom.” It shouldn’t mean a woman has to have a spotless house, toned body, home-cooked meals and easygoing baby. Being SuperMom means she is able to care for herself and her baby, and is able tor reach out for help when she needs it.
SuperMom might have days when she …
• Doesn’t make dinner on time, or orders takeout
• Lets someone else do the laundry
• Takes a nap instead of cleaning the house when the baby is sleeping because she needs to rest, too
You can support the SuperMom in your life by encouraging her to prioritize self-care, bringing her lunch or dinner, doing a few loads of laundry for her, spending time with the baby while she naps, or just reminding her what an amazing job she’s doing.
Postpartum depression and other PMADs are serious, impacting as many as one in five mothers of young children. Many factors can increase the chance a woman will develop a PMAD. Just as a woman can be proactive about optimizing her her physical health during pregnancy, she can also take steps to protect her mental health and reduce the risk of developing a PMAD.
PMAD Information & Resources
Pine Rest Services for PMAD include support groups, outpatient therapy, the Mother and Baby Program, and inpatient services. Our therapists are specially trained in PMAD.
You are not alone! Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders are the #1 complication of pregnancy. Pine Rest has innovative, proven programs to help you feel like yourself again.