Postpartum Health: What I’ve Learned Covering Maternal Care

Reporting on perinatal mental health helped me enormously when I became a mom. But there's still so much we need to do to support new parents.

May is Maternal Mental Health Month, so HuffPost Parenting and Wellness are shining a light on postpartum well-being. From how new moms handle those early days as parents while struggling with their own mental health to how to be there for friends and family, we’ve created a space for moms and their loved ones to feel seen and heard in those first trying months of parenthood. See the full series here.

One of the real perks of being a parenting reporter is that I’m able to apply things I learn on the job to my real life as a mother of two. Being immersed in parenting topics — and being able to interview experts — has been a lifeline for me over the past six years, but never more so than in the postpartum period right after I had my first son. He was colicky, I had a hard time breastfeeding, and, collectively, we were just kind of a mess.

Though I don’t think I met any clinical criteria for postpartum depression (PPD), I was definitely not bursting with new mama joy, and I really believe that what got me through was knowing that I was not alone, and that I was not a failure. I felt OK admitting I found new motherhood very, very hard in a way that I’m not sure I would have had I not spent years talking to perinatal mental health professionals for stories and hearing firsthand that I was one of millions who found new motherhood far from total bliss. For example, up to 1 in 5 women experience PPD. And an estimated 35% of moms experience high anxiety during pregnancy.

Since HuffPost’s parenting section launched a decade ago, the mental and emotional well-being of women in the lead-up to motherhood, during pregnancy, and throughout the first year has been a cornerstone topic, as we’ve delved into everything from how the guilt heaped on women who struggle to breastfeed can contribute to feelings of depression, to legislative efforts to help women with PPD — and everything in between. We’ve covered the many ways in which women’s mental health is shaped by motherhood, from postpartum OCD to the unmet mental health needs of NICU parents. And we’ve written how moms and dads find help, as well as the many ways in which they’re still woefully undersupported.

This month, HuffPost Parents is diving deep into postpartum mental health with a series of articles that explore postpartum well-being in its many forms. We hope the stories continue to connect with parents who are in the thick of that unique and vulnerable time, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on and mothers and fathers need support more than ever before. And we want to hear from you: What are the perinatal mental health stories you’d like to see covered? What would help (or have helped) you when you became a parent? Let us know at parents@huffpost.com.