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Nourish 246Nourish - helping to address maternal mental health

From information from Nourish Parents

Official figures show that more than 140,000 mums each year suffer mental health issues in the perinatal period (before and after giving birth). But with maternal mental health being an underdiagnosed and undertreated public health issue, the figures are likely to be much, much higher.

Founder of Nourish Parents, Sara Campin's story will be familiar to many new mums. “The transition from being a strong independent career woman, to a mother whose focus was nappies, sleep routines and night feeds, was one of the most challenging life adjustments I had ever been through.”

Consumed by feelings of failure compounded by the sense she was alone in her turmoil, Sara went on to channel those dark days into a mental wellness app, Nourish which aims to support those who go undiagnosed and untreated or who are deemed “not ill enough” to receive tailored support from the NHS.

Sara spent a great deal of time and effort researching and designing the app. She has a strong team of experts behind her - psychologists, psychiatrists, happiness coaches, mindfulness experts and yoga teachers, etc.

Dr Andy Mayers, an academic psychologist at Bournemouth University, specialising in perinatal mental health, has been working with mothers’ mental health for the best part of 20 years. He explains further:

"I think there is no other more important mental health issue than maternal mental health, because it is not just affecting the person, it's affecting the family and it's affecting the babies. Postnatal depression for a mother is different to any other major depression for a woman of similar age or background that doesn't have a new baby. One of the symptoms of depression is guilt. For a mum with postnatal depression, that guilt goes through the roof because suddenly she'll feel like she's failed to be the ‘simple’ thing of being a mother.

"When treating a new mother. Many medications are safe but that doesn't stop mum worrying about taking the medication and whether it will harm the baby. She might feel intensely guilty about doing so, because she might have been told by well-meaning friends, family, social media, etc., that you really shouldn't take medication.

"Breastfeeding is supposed to be ‘the most wonderful experience’. However, many mums struggle in the initial stages of breast feeding. This might mean mum has to stop breastfeeding, and of course, this can make her feel even more guilty - another thing that she has ‘failed’ at. When mum has postnatal depression, her cognitive and emotional resources are compromised to the extent that she is often not able to interact and bond with baby as well as she might be able to.

"It's important that mums understand this is not their fault. They are not well.

"Early intervention is always key. If we can support these mild/moderate mums, we can reduce the likelihood of those problems escalating to the point where she will need the more intense help. Encourage mums to actually seek to help because many mums, in fact half of mums, will not tell their partner, their family, the health professionals, that they are feeling this way, for fear of judgement and for fear that their baby will be taken away from them.

The Nourish app could be an important part of the support such mums need.

See more information here.

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From information from Nourish Parents, 27/07/2022

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