One in three Black mothers in the United States suffers from postpartum depression compared to every one out of seven white moms.
The mood disorder, which impairs bonding between a mother and child and leads to emotional and developmental problems for children, occurs more in Black mothers. However, they’re still less likely to receive treatment. In a country where Black women are already 2.5 times more likely to die from pregnancy compared to white women, data like this only adds to the growing list of negative outcomes Black mothers are faced with.
With all the stressors that come with being a Black mother, it’s no surprise that they face unique emotional and mental challenges during and after pregnancy. But there are ways you, as a Black mother, can prioritize and protect your mental health during and after pregnancy.
You deserve a healthy and happy journey of motherhood. So here are five pieces of advice to help you support your mental wellbeing along the way:
1. Find mental health support during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a stressful time as is, but Black mothers have to nudge race-related traumas and health disparities on top of it all. Finding a counselor, therapist, or mental health provider of any sort can help you get the professional support you need and navigate a challenging time.
If finding access to a licensed professional is difficult, try alternatives such as group therapy or even free resources such as meditation or yoga.
2. Educate your loved ones on maternal mental health.
Teaching your family the signs of postpartum depression is crucial, so they know exactly what to look out for. It may not be easy to be vulnerable about how you’re feeling, but it helps to have people in your life who can help you through it.
3. Make time for true self-care.
All your attention may be split between everything but yourself, which is not the best for your mental health. So be sure to take the time to protect your peace and pour back into yourself in any way that you can.
This could be as simple as keeping up with your hygiene routine or making time to see your friends like usual, or as extravagant as a solo trip for rest. What matters is that you prioritize your holistic wellness.
4. Find your community.
The village mentality is not new to the Black community, so use it for your good. Having people around you who can relate to your experiences can help you remember you’re not alone and give you a space to process.
5. Give yourself permission to ask for help.
The “strong Black women” stereotype is more damaging to our health than we think.
Remember, you do not have to do this all on your own, and no one should expect you to. You are a human with a life that matters, so please, don’t be afraid to do whatever it takes to advocate for your own mental health.