Pregnancy and childbirth are astonishing processes that take place in the life of most women. These processes bring about the creation of a new human being that brings joy and happiness to the eyes of the mother.
The journey from conception to delivery is a beautiful one which most women wish to experience. However, it causes rigorous changes in a woman, from physical to emotional and psychological, which can threaten the life of a woman if complications arise.
Childbirth, they say, is the joy of motherhood, yet some women fail to feel this joy when the baby is born. This is why maternal health is essential to ensure that proper care and support are given to the mother for a positive experience at each stage of the journey. Follow on for Maternal Health: 3 Top TEDx Talks.
Maternal health is a woman’s health during pregnancy, at delivery, and after childbirth. Pregnancy and childbirth have taken the lives of many women over the years. However, advancements in medicine and health services have led to a decline in maternal death.
Another important aspect of maternal health is the emotional and psychological well-being of the woman. Some women feel sad, depressed or have difficulties bonding with their baby, which are symptoms of postpartum depression.
Pregnancy and childbirth take a toll on women. While trying to recover from delivery and nursing their young ones, they are also faced with other responsibilities like – taking care of the home and other family members or completing work duties. When does she get the rest she needs to regain her physical, emotional and psychological health?
Here are three TEDx Talks that discuss maternal health and well-being.
1. Why Moms Are Miserable – Sheryl Ziegler
Dr Sheryl Ziegler is a Doctor of Psychology, a Licensed Professional Counselor in Colorado, and a Colorado Association for Play Therapy and American Psychological Association member.
During her presentation, she mentioned a book written by Betty Friedan in 1969, “The Feminine Mystique”. This book’s writer interviewed mothers who shared their feelings of loneliness, unfulfillment and shame of admitting that they felt lost in motherhood.
Betty Friedan called these feelings a problem with no name. Unfortunately, this problem that has no name is still present today. Mothers feel lonely, exhausted and overwhelmed, and they often result to unhealthy means like – taking drugs or alcohol to curtail their feelings of anxiety, depression and unhappiness.
Dr Ziegler mentioned that mothers need closeness with other human beings. They need to spend more time with their female friends to discuss their problems, and with that, a community is created.
2. The Gift That New Mothers Need: Renaming Postpartum Depression – Chandra Maracle
Chandra Maracle is a nutritionist educator, and the founder of real people eat real food. This presentation by Chandra Maracle is an interesting one. She gives an insight into the very essence of community care. She emphasizes the importance of community care and support for women during pregnancy and after birth.
Community care and support are the norm in most traditional societies. New mothers are fed, supported and allowed to rest to recover physically, emotionally and psychologically. Chandra said that community care and support are depleting, and mothers feel lonely and empty due to the absence of this support.
The expectation for women to be natural caregivers and still take care of other responsibilities has made some women silent about their inner struggles. Trying to make sense of their struggles, they become overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and depression, and the newborn that is supposed to be the source of their joy becomes a source of unhappiness for some.
Chandra said the most important part of postpartum care is the need for community care and social engagement to support the woman’s process of becoming a mother.
3. A New Way to Think About the Transition to Motherhood – Alexandra Sacks
Alexandra Sacks, MD, is a reproductive psychiatrist affiliated with the Women’s Program at Columbia University Medical Center. Her presentation was an eye-opener. It gave meaning to the struggles of motherhood. Adolescence is the transition stage from childhood to adulthood, but what is the transition to motherhood called?
The hormonal changes and body development in teenagers during this transition phase are normal, as it is in pregnant women. Yet, there is no word to describe the transition to motherhood.
As a reproductive psychiatric practitioner, she has listened to women complain about the unrealistic expectations of motherhood. These women expect motherhood to make them happy and whole, their instincts should naturally tell them what to do, and they should always want to put the baby first. When their reality did not meet their expectations, they believed they had a disease.
In 1973, a medical anthropologist Dana Raphael coined the word “Matrescence” to describe the transition to motherhood. Matrescence is the developmental stage of a woman to motherhood. This stage starts from preconception to postpartum. Like adolescence, matrescence comes with physical, hormonal, emotional and psychological changes, which are normal.
There is no superwoman, and neither are there any expectations for motherhood. Mothers are human; they get exhausted and overwhelmed from nurturing their young ones, and so does their mental health deplete. Their feelings and emotions are not irrelevant – neither are they wrong for feeling that way.
The birth of a child is a blessing from God. It is beautiful, and it brings joy to every parent’s eyes. Those who do not have children hope to be blessed soon, and those who have been blessed cherish their bundle of joy with utmost love and care.
The bond between a mother and her child is unimaginable, yet this pure love can turn sour if the mother is left alone to face this new change. In the eyes of this new challenge, we are stronger with support.