Parenthood and mental health
The reason for asking lies in our understanding of the close relationship between mental health and wellbeing and the journey to parenthood. Did you know that in Australia one in five of our mums and one in ten of our dads report mental health difficulties such as low mood, worry or stress?
Asking you how you are allows healthcare professionals to identify if you are experiencing any challenges to your mental health and wellbeing. If you are, there are lots of things that can help including referral to specialist, talking therapies and educational resources.
Unfortunately, research tells us that when it comes to answering questions related to emotional health, up to 40 per cent of people will give inaccurate responses. Dishonesty in reporting how you feel is one way in which people may try to avoid someone else passing judgement or criticising their ability to be good at pregnancy or parenting.
Managing stress and anxiety during pregnancy
So how are you? It really is an important question. If you are preparing for labour and birth, your levels of stress and anxiety do affect your labour and birth. When you are in situations you perceive as dangerous, your body releases the hormone adrenaline and thereby initiates your fear response. When your body is in the fight or flight survival response, you do experience an increase in your awareness and sensitivity to pain.
To optimise a safe and healthy birth, managing stress and anxiety in pregnancy can provide an opportunity for you to feel confident to keep adrenaline under control during labour and birth.
If you are noticing your mental health and wellbeing is becoming more difficult to manage, talk to your midwife or doctor about this at your next appointment.
Answering truthfully to the question “how are you?” may feel like a challenge in itself, but it can open up opportunities for you to access support from other healthcare professionals and importantly feel like you are not alone.