This guide is sponsored by MALTESERS in partnership with Comic Relief as part of the #LoveBeatsLikes campaign.
Maltesers is working in partnership with Comic Relief to support maternal mental health projects in the UK. To see the work they are doing and find out how to access support visit www.comicrelief.com/maltesers.
Motherhood doesn’t come with a handbook – but this means that it can be really hard for new mums to ask for help, and also hard for those around them to know what to do to be helpful.
We wanted to create a guide that would offer practical advice and helpful starting points, reminding new mums that it is perfectly OK to ask for help and encouraging those around new mums with ways that they can support the new mothers in their life.
To do this, we consulted with Clotilde Abe and Tinuke Awe, the co-founders of Five X More CIC. Outside of advocating for Black maternal health, Clotilde runs Prosperitys, a social enterprise supporting Black and Brown women during the perinatal period, and Tinuke runs Mums and Tea which is a social platform for Black mums to connect in a safe space both on and offline. Both are passionate about Black women and birthing people, maternity care and mental health and have offered their expertise and guidance in pulling together this resource.
Why We Think Good Mental Health Is Important For Mums & Their Communities
More than one in ten of us will experience problems with our mental health during pregnancy and after childbirth and 70% of us will downplay how we’re feeling or try to hide it. It’s important that we acknowledge the seriousness but we hope to encourage mums to ask for the support they need and encourage their loved ones to feel confident in offering support. Supporting good mental health helps us manage our day-to-day lives, maintain good relationships with those around us and also has a positive effect on our children as well.
What "The Village" Looks Like Now
The village looks very different to our parents' generation. They say it takes one to raise a child but often, many people struggle to get regular support.
These days support can come in many different forms and it is good to be open to trying different things and seeing what works for you. There are plenty of community groups, social media pages and apps online, which we will share with you below. If you prefer face to face, look for your local children's centre or maternal mental health charities in your area. They may have activities and courses for mum and baby and can be a great way to meet local mums in your area.
We appreciate that getting out of the house with a new baby can be tricky but building your community and seeking out your village, whatever that looks like, is important.
Although friends and family may visit when you first have the baby, there may be times when you feel isolated and lonely. This is where it may be helpful to seek out local groups or an online community so you can speak to like minded mums with children of similar ages.
We know that it can be hard knowing where to start when someone we love becomes a mum, but we hope these Fast Fives are useful starting points.
Five signs to look out for that might signal a new mum needs extra support
Doing too much or too little (opposite to what they normally do)
Unhappy, crying and teary a lot of the time
Loss of interest and finding it difficult to cope with day to day activities
Physical symptoms such as headaches
Five professionals who are the first point of call for mums needing support
Maternity support worker
Online professional support provided by volunteers like Samaritans or local maternal mental health charities
Five social media accounts that give great practical advice for mums
Charity and coalition with a vision to see every woman in the UK get the right care and support for her mental health during pregnancy and postnatally.
The mental health charity fighting for mental health – for support, for respect, for you.
Here to make sure mums, parents and families are supported through postpartum psychosis – a treatable medical emergency.
Helping people traumatised by childbirth, raising voices and breaking the silence around birth trauma.
An organisation that wants to make birth – including the road before and the path ahead – a better experience for all
Five practical ways to support and connect with a new mum and her baby
Offer support in terms of offering to come round and watch the baby while she sleeps, cooks, etc.
Encourage her to come out with the baby, to somewhere baby friendly such as meeting up for coffee or a stay and play.
Send a care package for the mum and remind her to take care of herself.
Keep asking if they need help or support. Even if they say no, keep offering – many new parents find it hard to accept support.
Check in regularly and don't just ask about the baby!
Five ways to start a conversation about mental health with your mum friend
"Are you sleeping well? Is it just the baby keeping you up or is there something else?"
"How are you finding you are bonding with your baby?"
"What’s been the best part of your journey so far?"
"How are you finding getting out of the house?"
Suggest that you go out and do something that is not baby related to get them to open up.
Five things co-workers can do to support colleagues who are new mums
Ask the mother specifically how they are, not just about the baby. Remember the mother is important and not just the baby.
Genuinely ask how they are. No we are not repeating ourselves, ask the mother how she really is.
Creating space to discuss workloads and being open to adjustments that support new mums as they return to work
Flexibility and understanding when it comes to breastfeeding (if mums need to pump), childcare or if a child gets ill.
- Be sensitive about comments towards mums and motherhood.
Maltesers is working in partnership with Comic Relief to support maternal mental health projects in the UK. See the work they are doing and find out how to access support by visiting comicrelief.com/maltesers.
Mars Wrigley is donating at least £500,000 in 2022 to Comic Relief, operating name of Charity Projects, registered charity in England & Wales (326568) and Scotland (SC039730).