How To Cope With Expat Maternal Mental Health
May is maternal mental health month, and it brings about lots of questions from new moms who may feel left in the dark and overwhelmed by their current circumstances.
Becoming a new mom is the most life-changing experience a woman goes through. Yet, it can bring a whole load of challenges that can throw new moms curveballs, including mental health challenges that may not have been there before the birth or have existing mental health issues exacerbated by childbirth.
Whichever camp you fall into, mental health issues while tackling motherhood for the first time can be a lonely and complicated journey, even more so if you are an expat.
The familiar safety of your own culture, language, and support away from the family can make new mothers feel intimidated and overawed by the whole shift in life.
Her Expat Life has put together our top tips on surviving maternal mental health issues:
1: Plan & Prepare
If you are an expat mother or about to become one, make sure you plan & prepare for the arrival. Not just make your home baby proof but plan for how your life will change. Are you happy where you are? Do you feel comfortable enough in the expat culture you reside in to raise your child? Are you prepared to adapt and take on life challenges away from your native home? Schooling, language etc. It can be highly unsettling to figure out all of this when the baby has arrived! These are all significant questions that a new expat mom should clarify before having a baby.
Get it sorted out before you give birth. (including if you want to move home).
2: Get Support
Reach out to fellow expats in your neighbourhood or city. They will undoubtedly be able to share ideas and tips from their experience of becoming a mom as an expat! Keep in touch with your family or friends, even if they are millions of miles away! Online communities or meetups are great ways to learn and gain support from the expat community.
3: Talk To A Professional
If you notice dramatic mental changes in yourself, reach out to a licensed therapist who offers perinatal counselling. There is no shame, as 1 in 5 new moms will experience a mental illness during pregnancy or in the first year of birth. You and your baby should sort out the complex challenges you may face rather than wallowing at home, feeling alone.
4: Look After Yourself
Sleep deprivation and tending to your baby may lead to you feeling neglected. Hire a nanny experienced with expat families who can look after your baby some days of the week or even for a few hours to allow you to sleep, indulge in self-care and get some mental clarity.
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