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May 2006

A Mother of an Opportunity

Sunday, May 14th is Mother's Day. Traditionally, it is a chance to recognize the significant and influential women in our lives whether they be mothers, grandmothers, step mothers or even den mothers.

When spoken of, pregnancy and motherhood are often defined as times of overwhelming joy and emotional highs. The miracle of life, the first time holding your son or daughter, the bond between mother and child. In many cases, however, the good times are not so good and pregnancy and childbirth can be defined by stress and even depression.

According to 2003 Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System survey, 23 percent of women in North Carolina said that pregnancy was a very hard time for them mentally or emotionally.  Changes in physical appearance, hormonal adjustments, financial worries, fears associated with child birth and strain on their relationships are only a few of the factors causing stress and impacting the mental health of pregnant women.

Oftentimes, similar or worse feelings follow the birth of a child. Nearly half of North Carolina women experienced some level of depression following birth, and one-in-five described their condition as moderately to very depressed.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that nationally, 70 to 85 percent of women experience the baby blues after childbirth.  The more severe form, clinically diagnosed postpartum depression, affects about 10 percent.

If you know someone who is pregnant or has recently given birth and is having a difficult time, Mother's Day presents an opportunity to help. Whether they be a friend, family member, co-worker or most importantly your partner, this is a time to reach out. Offer a listening ear or shoulder to cry on, send a note, cook them dinner once a week, let them know they are not alone, or help them find a doctor or trained counselor to talk to. What is simple for you, might be just what they need.

Pregnancy and motherhood can potentially be the most gratifying times in a woman'’s life. Conversely, they can be some of the most stressful, even depressing. So before you send flowers or a box of candy, ask yourself if there is anything else you can do.

Happy Mothers Day.  

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Last updated: May 2006


At a glance

  • 23% of NC women described pregnancy as mentally difficult
  • 48% of NC women experienced depression following childbirth
  • 27% did not receive information on mental health during prenatal visits

2003 NC PRAMS survey

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