Mental Health Challenges of Being or Becoming a Mum

Mental Health Challenges of Being or Becoming a Mum

Maternal mental health looks at the psychological and emotional health of a mum, mum to be or trying mum from the fertility journey, through conception to birth and post birth adaptation to being a mum.


Stages of Motherhood

Mental health challenges can vary depending on the stage of motherhood that you are in.

  • The Fertility Journey- trying to conceive or going through fertility assisted treatment can be a tiring and mentally challenging time for a lot of people. It can cause stress, anxiety, depression and trauma. The journey looks different for everyone and this can be unsettling for many people.
  • Pregnancy – Pregnancy can be an exciting but challenging time for mothers. Hormonal changes, physical discomfort and anticipation can cause stress and anxiety. Some mothers also experience difficulties with self-esteem and changes in their body image.
  • Postpartum – The postpartum period refers to the first few months after giving birth. During this time, mothers may experience depression, anxiety, and adjustment difficulties. Sleep deprivation and the changes to an individuals routines can exacerbate mood changes.
  • Childhood – Childhood is a stage when children become more independent and curious, they begin walking, talking, socialising and going to school. However, this stage can be challenging for mothers as they balance their child’s needs with other responsibilities. Mothers may experience stress, anxiety, and fatigue during this stage.


Common Mental Health Disorders

There’s a range of mental health disorders and associated health challenges that mothers may experience.

Some of the most common conditions include:

  • Postpartum Depression – This is a type of depression that affects new mothers after giving birth. Symptoms can include sadness, lack of energy, feelings of hopelessness and difficulty bonding with their baby. This is most often observed in the first week post-birth.
  • Anxiety – Mothers can experience a range of anxiety disorders. Symptoms can include excessive worry, irritability, racing thoughts and physical symptoms such as heart palpitations and shortness of breath.
  • Sleep Disorders – It’s common for mothers to have difficulty sleeping due to the demands of caring for a new baby, however it is important to assess the impact of this on your daily life. Lack of sleep can worsen mental health issues and make it difficult to function during the day.
  • Adjustment Disorder – This is a condition that can occur when a mother has difficulty adjusting to the changes that come with motherhood, such as changes to routine, parental leave and changes to relationships. Symptoms can include sadness, anxiety and difficulty concentrating.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Mothers who have experienced a traumatic event, such as a difficultly with infertility or childbirth or the loss of a child, may develop PTSD. Symptoms can include intrusive thoughts, nightmares and avoidance behaviours.
  • Body Dysmorphia- This is a condition where someone struggles to connect with their body image. This can often occur during pregnancy or post-partum following significant changes in one’s body shape.


If you are a mother or going through the process of becoming a mother, and you are feeling overwhelmed, or experiencing some of the above symptoms, support from a psychologist can help.

Rachael Beckley