Mamma till Mamma – an organisation focusing on issues related to perinatal mental health
Mamma till Mamma (Mother to Mother) is a religiously independent, non-profit, non-governmental and non-political organisation. The organisation’s overall goal is to promote recovery among parents suffering from mental health issues during pregnancy or soon after giving birth. The organisation aims to help parents, children, and ultimately, entire families.
Research indicates that 10-15% of all new mothers in Sweden, and about 10% of all new fathers, suffer from postpartum depression. In Sweden, approximately 115.000 children are born yearly, which means that more than 20.000 parents suffer from postpartum depression every year. In addition, there are parents who suffer from other forms of perinatal mental health issues, such as overwhelming stress and anxiety. About 0,1-0,2% of all new mothers suffer from postpartum psychosis.
Mental health issues during the perinatal period can negatively impact children’s attachment patterns, as well as, children’s cognitive and emotional development, and that is a reason why perinatal mental health issues are prioritised within the Swedish health care system.
Generally in Sweden, there is a poor understanding and knowledge around perinatal mental health issues, and it is still taboo to some degree.
This leads to many parents suffering in silence. Many parents feel that they are the only ones experiencing difficult feelings and thought, they often believe that all other parents are happy and only experience wonderful times with their babies. Too few parents know that perinatal mental health issues are common and that help is available.
Mamma till Mamma knows that with the adequate help and support, there are great possibilities for these parents to recover nicely and for their families to thrive.
You can read more about anxiety, depression and psychosis related to pregnancy and early parenthood in the factsheets below. The information comes from our amazing Australian sister organisation Panda (panda.org.au).
Resources - Links
- Anxiety And Depression In Pregnancy & Early Parenthood
- Perinatal Anxiety And Depression In Men
- Adjusting To The Challenges Of Parenthood
- Caring For Someone With Perinatal Anxiety And Depression
- LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Queer) parents and Perinatal Anxiety and Depression
- Recovery From Perinatal Anxiety And Depression
- Wellbeing and Selfcare
- Talking to your doctor (alternatively BVC-nurse and Midwife (MVC) in a Swedish context)
Some people who feel mentally unwell after giving birth might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A traumatic birth or previous traumatic life experiences, are factors that can cause PTSD. If this is the case, it is important to seek correct help. Treatment for PTSD can also help with depression.
Symptoms can include:
- Delusions or strange beliefs
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
- Feeling very irritated
- Decreased need for or inability to sleep
- Paranoia and suspiciousness
- Rapid mood swings
- Difficulty communicating at times
The most significant risk factors for postpartum psychosis are a personal or family history of bipolar disorder, or a previous psychotic episode.
When and where you can seek help
If you you are struggling with mental health issues, you should contact a health care center (vårdcentral in Sweden), your midwife clinic (MVC in Sweden) or the childcare center (BVC in Sweden). Treatment is available, both therapy and medication, and it is common two receive a combination of the two. Your doctor can help you with medication that will not negatively impact the baby if you are pregnant or breastfeed. Help is also available for partners, co-parents and adoptive parents.
Between six to eight weeks after giving birth, the mother will be asked to answer a set of screening questions from the so-called Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). In Sweden this will be done at BVC. EPDS is available in 20 languages, and it is designed to estimate the mothers mental health status. If you are struggling, this is a great opportunity to express how you truly feel.
Remember that perinatal mental health issues are common and the health care professionals are used to deal with it. They will not view you as a bad parent.
If you or someone near you has any symptoms of psychosis, please seek help immediately! The condition is very dangerous to both mother and child. Contact psychiatric ward or call 112.
Grief and shame
Some parents blame themselves for suffering from mental health issues during the perinatal period. Maybe you are worried that your child somehow has been harmed. Perhaps you grieve that you have not been able to enjoy the first period with your baby and that you have missed out on a lot. If this is the case, rather try to focus on the bright future. You and your child have so much positive things ahead of you. Focus on what you and your child/children need to feel good right now, as well as in the future. Talking to someone you trust about these feelings can be helpful.
If you are planning to have more children
Having suffered from perinatal mental health issues is a risk factor for recurrence if you are having more children. Therefore it is important to speak to your midwife about this as early as possible during your next pregnancy. Together you can make a health care plan in order to reduce the risk of recurrence.
Do you need support? Mamma till Mamma is here for you!
Mamma till Mamma offers an opportunity to anonymously, via email, open up about your thoughts and feelings. We put you in contact with a so-called “medmamma”, a woman who previously has suffered from perinatal mental health issues, but has since recovered. In order to become a medmamma, she has successfully been through a recruitment process and completed training.
Mamma till Mamma is here for you with the aim of making life easier and better for you and your family.
We also provide support to co-parents, partners, fathers and other adult family members.
We can save your emails up to one month and they might be used for educational and/or research purposes (de-identified).
If you do not want us to see your name, it is advised that you open a new, anonymous email account for your contact with Mamma till Mamma.
If you do not hear from us within 3 days, please have a look in your junk mail.
Email us at: email@example.com
A medmamma will answer you within three days.
Becoming a medmamma
Are you interested in becoming a medmamma in order to support parents who suffer from perinatal mental health issues?
To become a medmamma, you should previously have suffered from perinatal mental health issues, but since then recovered. You should be a good communicator, be empathetic, and have reached a level of personal maturity. Your Swedish skills should be good. You should be able to put aside a few hours a week for your job as a medmamma (you decide when and where).
If this sounds like you, please contact us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Write “interested in becoming a medmamma” in the subject line.
Is is important that you state as much as possible about yourself in the email:
Your personality, your life situation, your experience with mental health issues, your current health status, your academic and professional background, as well as, your language skills.
Do you want to partner up with Mamma till Mamma?
Mamma till Mamma is always looking for good opportunities to collaborate.
We are looking for companies, organisations and individuals who supports our work and who wants to make a big change in families lives. Please contact us via email: email@example.com
Mamma till Mammas short film:
”When the baby bubble bursts – a short film about postpartum depression”. Please help us share it on social media and use it for educational purposes! We want to share this important knowledge. Unless you are a private person, please indicate how you use the film: firstname.lastname@example.org
Become a member of Mamma till Mamma
Said about Mamma till Mamma
“I admire your initiative so much, and above all, I wish you had existed three years ago. It was hard to open up about not feeling well when you are supposed to, when you have received the most beautiful gift in the world. It would have made a huge difference to be able to email someone and exchange thoughts.”
”Firstly, I just want to say thank you for existing! When I read about Mamma till Mamma, it felt like a stone was lifted from my chest – knowing that I’m not alone even though it feels that way right now. I’m the loneliest and unhappiest person in the world, when I should be the happiest I have ever been”
“I do not really know where I want to get with my waffling, besides that it felt nice to find someone who could receive what I wrote, without commenting on it in a judgemental way”.