A child cannot be healthy or happy without the presence of a healthy and happy mother
Being a mom means so much more than giving birth to a child. It means having conflicting emotions and also coping with constantly juggling different roles. Many women may not want to say it out loud for the fear of being judged and feeling guilt, but they do find motherhood to be challenging and confusing sometimes.
A conservative estimate indicates that at least one out of every five new mothers experiences some form of mental health challenge that makes it difficult for her to offer her children the full amount of care they need. Research shows that maternal mental health issues can begin during pregnancy and persist far longer than is commonly realised. They have far more significant consequences for children than most people understand and can have varied concerns both for the mother and child throughout the years.
How important it is to take care of mothers’ mental and physical health
It is understood- for a child to be healthy he/she needs a healthy parent. A child cannot be healthy or happy without the presence of a healthy and happy mother. Prenatal and postpartum maternal health is critical to a mother’s physical and mental well-being and contributes to her ability to render love and proper care to her newborn child at birth and years thereafter. Mothers play a fundamental and crucial role in the health as well as the quality of life of their children, which is why it is so important to give focus on maternal health during pregnancy.
It is often seen that most pregnant women give all of their attention to the health of their unborn child. Though it is more than natural for a new mother to want to ensure the overall health of her child, it is every bit as important that they take appropriate steps to maintain their own health – both physically and psychologically during and after pregnancy.
How mental health of a mother impact her children
A child’s healthy development depends on their parents who serve as their primary source of care and support in becoming independent individuals and leading healthy and successful lives.
During the formative years of a child’s life, the mental health of a mother has a huge impact on the child’s behavioural and mental health.
The mental health of mothers and children is connected in multiple ways.
According to the World Health Organisation, roughly 10 per cent of pregnant women and 13 per cent of women who have just given birth experience a mental disorder, primarily depression. Mothers who have their own mental health challenges, such as depression or anxiety (fear or worry), may also have more difficulty providing care for their children compared to mothers who describe their mental health as good. Caring for children can create challenges for mothers, especially if they lack the resources and support, which can have a negative effect on a mother’s mental health. Research has proved that poor mental health in parents is also strongly related to poor mental and physical health in children. Therefore, taking care of the mother’s physical and mental health should be a public health priority.
More specifically, maternal depression is known to have a broad influence on child health and well-being. Children of mothers who are depressed or who have depressive symptoms are at increased risk for developmental delay, behavioural problems, depression, asthma and physical injuries according to research. Most of the studies reported the existence of a significant relationship between maternal stress, depression, and lower scores on mental development which is evident from literature wherein self-reported maternal mental health conditions have been associated with delayed infant cognitive development. Untreated maternal mental health can have several significant impacts on the emotional and behavioural health of a child, such as decreased social functioning, poor academic performance, mental health issues in childhood or adolescence and also increase risk of substance abuse.
The author is Clinical Psychologist, Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine. Views are personal.
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