“It is right to talk about motherhood as a wonderful thing, but we also have to talk about its stresses and strains. It’s OK not to find it easy and asking for help should not be seen as a sign of weakness,” the Duchess of Cambridge, formerly known as Kate Middleton said in a powerful speech last week.
The duchess gave the opening remarks at a launch party releasing a series of educational parenting films from the non-profit Best Beginnings. A mother of two small children, Kate revealed her own struggles adjusting to motherhood, and urged others to take care of their mental health just as they would their physical well-being.
“If any of us caught a fever during pregnancy, we would seek advice and support from a doctor,” she said. “Getting help with our mental health is no different. Our children need us to look after ourselves and get the support we need.”
The depression epidemic for new moms
In the United States alone, there are more than 3 million women diagnosed with postpartum depression each year. They struggle with a range of symptoms, from insomnia to loss of appetite to intense feelings of sadness. This diagnosis puts them at greater risk of developing major depression years later—and what’s more, may interfere with a new mom’s ability to bond properly with her baby.
At the event, Kate addressed the root of the PPD epidemic: our unwillingness to admit we’re less than perfect. As she noted, there’s so much pressure put upon women to give 110 percent of themselves to motherhood and to act, always, like they’re enjoying themselves. To ask for help adjusting to your new life as a parent shouldn’t be seen as a sign of weakness—and yet, in this day and age, doing so is often accompanied by feelings of guilt and shame.
“Personally, becoming a mother has been such a rewarding and wonderful experience,” Kate said. “However, at times it has also been a huge challenge, even for me who has support at home that most mothers do not.”
Read more: Am I at risk for Postpartum Depression?
“Nothing can really prepare you for you the sheer overwhelming experience of what it means to become a mother,” she went on. “It is full of complex emotions of joy, exhaustion, love and worry all mixed together. Your fundamental identity changes overnight. You go from thinking of yourself as primarily an individual, to suddenly being a mother, first and foremost.”
Can you relate to Kate’s comments on motherhood? Please share your thoughts and experience in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.
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