May 20, 2023
Five Ways Childbirth Educators Can Support the Emotional Health of Expectant and New Parents
By: Sharon Muza, BS, CD/BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE | 1 Comments
May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month. The role of the childbirth educator extends beyond preparing families for labor, birth and postpartum. Educators are also in a unique position to call attention to the emotional well-being and mental health of both pregnant and postpartum parents. By spiraling this important topic throughout their curriculum, educators can help parents receive the support they need during this transformative time. Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month provides childbirth educators with an opportunity to deepen our own understanding, debunk misconceptions, and equip ourselves with knowledge to advocate for maternal mental health.
Maternal mental health encompasses a range of emotional and psychological experiences that can arise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Conditions such as perinatal depression, anxiety, and other perinatal mood disorders can significantly impact a person’'s ability to cope with the challenges of pregnancy and parenthood and also impact their baby. Educators can communicate that addressing mental health concerns is as crucial as physical health and can and should be addressed.
As advocates for maternal mental health, childbirth educators can implement several strategies to support emotional well-being.
Create a safe space
Foster an open and non-judgmental environment during childbirth education classes where people can openly discuss their concerns and emotions. Encourage group discussions and peer support to promote connection and validation.
Provide evidence-based information
Educate parents about the emotional changes they may experience during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. Sharing knowledge about the signs of perinatal mental health conditions, treatment options, and available support services can help reduce stigma and empower people to seek help when needed.
Collaborate with healthcare professionals
Establish partnerships with local healthcare providers, therapists, and support groups specializing in maternal mental health. Share resources and referrals to ensure people can access and receive appropriate care when necessary.
Promote self-care and coping strategies
Encourage expecting parents to prioritize self-care practices that nurture their emotional well-being. This can include regular physical activity, adequate sleep, balanced nutrition, relaxation techniques, and seeking social support from loved ones.
Incorporate mindfulness and stress reduction techniques
Introduce mindfulness exercises, breathing techniques, and relaxation practices into your childbirth education curriculum. Do this every time you meet with your class. Encourage people to practice these techniques at home as well. These tools can help people manage anxiety and stress during pregnancy and postpartum.
Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month serves as a reminder for childbirth educators to prioritize the emotional well-being of expecting parents. By understanding the challenges new parents face and adopting strategies to support mental health, educators can play a crucial role in empowering people as they transition into parenthood. Our unique role as childbirth educators provides us with an opportunity to advocate for greater awareness, break the silence surrounding maternal mental health, and promote a nurturing and supportive environment for all parents.
TagsSharon Muza Maternal Mental Health Month