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Illustration of a healthcare professional sitting beside a woman, offering support. The scene features a warm, calming background with floral elements, representing compassionate care at the London Pregnancy Clinic.

Maternal Mental Health Awareness

Discover the importance of Maternal Mental Health in 2024.

Published
28. May 2024
Last Modified
28. May 2024

May is Women’s Health Month, a time to prioritise and celebrate women’s health, beginning with National Women’s Health Week. This blog post highlights the importance of women’s health, with a particular focus on pregnancy, fertility, and gynaecology. We’ll discuss key health concerns, preventive measures, and the importance of regular checkups to ensure women’s well-being during different stages of life.

During the month of May, as flowers bloom and the weather warms up, we celebrate Mother’s Day and recognize Women’s Health Month. As we come to the end of this month-long observance, which kicked off each year on Mother’s Day, emphasises the importance of health and well-being for women across the nation. At the LPC, we focus on providing comprehensive care in pregnancy, fertility, and gynaecology, ensuring women have access to the information and medical support they need.

Urgent Support

If you find yourself in crisis, feeling despair, or experiencing suicidal thoughts, it’s crucial to seek help immediately. Reach out to a healthcare professional—this could be your GP, midwife, or health visitor.

Alternatively, you can take the following steps:

Remember, you are not alone. Mental health issues during and after pregnancy are common, and support is readily available.

What is Women’s Health Awareness?

Women’s Health Awareness is a dedicated effort to educate and empower women about their health and well-being. It focuses on highlighting the unique health challenges women face and provides essential information on prevention, early detection, and treatment. This awareness is vital in promoting healthier lifestyles and improving health outcomes for women of all ages.

According to the UK’s First Women’s Health Strategy for England, addressing the gender health gap is crucial. Women live longer than men on average but spend more of their lives in poor health, often limiting their ability to work and participate in day-to-day activities. Closing this health gap and supporting women to live well will benefit not only their health and wellbeing but also the economy.

Women’s Health Awareness encourages women to take control of their health by staying informed about various health issues. It emphasises the importance of regular health screenings, vaccinations, and checkups. These preventive measures are crucial for detecting potential health problems early, ensuring timely treatment, and improving prognosis.

Responses to the call for evidence highlighted a need for greater focus on women-specific health conditions, including fertility and pregnancy loss, and gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis, which affects 1 in 10 women.

Lifestyle factors play a significant role in women’s health. Women’s Health Awareness promotes healthy habits, including balanced nutrition, regular physical activity, and avoiding harmful behaviours like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is fundamental to preventing many health issues.

The Importance of Women’s Health Awareness Month?

Women’s Health Month serves as a vital reminder for women to prioritise their health. Taking care of your health is essential, and this month encourages you to focus on your well-being. Start by scheduling necessary medical appointments. Regular checkups, examinations, and vaccinations play a crucial role in maintaining good health. Preventive care helps detect potential issues early, ensuring timely treatment.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle is another key aspect of Women’s Health Month. Incorporate balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep into your daily routine. A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains supports overall well-being. Regular physical activity helps maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily.

Mental health is equally important. Take time to manage stress, practice mindfulness, and seek support when needed. Engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation can significantly improve mental well-being. Remember, mental health impacts physical health, so it’s essential to address any concerns promptly.

Women’s Health Month also highlights the importance of understanding your body and recognising potential health risks. Stay informed about common health issues affecting women, such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Knowing the symptoms and risk factors enables you to take preventive measures and seek medical advice early.

Given that around 15% of women over 18 report being in poor health, raising awareness is crucial. This month encourages women to take proactive steps towards better health. Share information with friends and family, and support each other in making healthier choices. Together, we can create a community of empowered, health-conscious women.

Key Health Concerns for Women:

One key aspect of Women’s Health Awareness is education about reproductive health. This includes information on menstrual health, contraception, pregnancy, and menopause. Understanding these aspects of health enables women to make informed decisions about their bodies and well-being.

While these issues are connected to reproductive health, they are not solely about pregnancy. Addressing these health concerns is vital for maintaining a high quality of life and ensuring overall health. Here are some of the key health concerns that women should be aware of:

  • Breast Cancer: is the second most common cancer among women in the UK. Early detection through regular breast examinations and mammograms is crucial. Women should be aware of the symptoms, such as lumps, changes in breast shape, and skin dimpling, and consult their healthcare provider if they notice any unusual changes.
  • Cervical Cancer: affects thousands of women annually, often linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV). Regular Pap smears and HPV vaccinations are effective preventive measures. Recognising symptoms like unusual bleeding and pelvic pain can lead to early diagnosis and better outcomes.
  • Ovarian Cancer: is another significant health concern, with risk factors including age and family history. Regular pelvic examinations and being alert to symptoms like bloating, pelvic pain, and changes in urinary habits can aid in early detection.
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health: Maintaining sexual and reproductive health is essential for overall well-being. Safe sex practices, STI screenings, and regular checkups help prevent and manage health issues. For those considering pregnancy, preconception health and prenatal care are vital for a healthy pregnancy and baby.
  • Physical Activity: Regular physical activity is essential for preventing conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and osteoporosis. Women should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, which can include activities like brisk walking, cycling, or yoga.
  • Diet and Nutrition: A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins supports overall health. Nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D are particularly important for bone health, helping to prevent osteoporosis.
  • Osteoporosis: a condition characterised by weakened bones, is more common in women, especially post-menopause. Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, along with regular weight-bearing exercises, can help maintain bone density and prevent fractures.
  • Cardiovascular Disease: is the leading cause of death among women. Risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking. Regular cardiovascular checkups, a healthy diet, and an active lifestyle are key preventive measures.

Women’s Health Awareness: Preventive Care.

Preventive care, including vaccinations, screenings, and routine checkups, is essential for early detection and management of health issues. Women should adhere to recommended schedules for mammograms, Pap smears, and bone density tests. These regular checkups can detect potential health issues before they become serious, ensuring timely treatment and better outcomes.

Mammograms are vital for early detection of breast cancer. Women should begin regular mammograms at age 40, or earlier if they have a family history of breast cancer. Detecting breast cancer early increases the chances of successful treatment and can save lives.

Pap smears are crucial for detecting cervical cancer. Women should start getting Pap smears at age 25 and continue every three years. If you have a higher risk, your doctor may recommend more frequent screenings. HPV vaccinations also play a key role in preventing cervical cancer.

Routine checkups are also an opportunity to discuss other vaccinations, such as flu shots and the COVID-19 vaccine, which help protect against infectious diseases. Keeping vaccinations up to date is crucial for overall health and preventing outbreaks.

Preventive care extends beyond these screenings. Regular blood pressure checks, cholesterol tests, and diabetes screenings are essential for detecting cardiovascular and metabolic conditions early. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, complements preventive care and boosts overall health. By prioritising preventive care, women can take proactive steps to maintain their health and well-being. Early detection through regular screenings and checkups allows for timely intervention, improving health outcomes and quality of life

Mental Health During Reproductive care.

Mental health care should be an integral part of reproductive care. Women should feel empowered to seek help and support throughout their reproductive journey. By prioritising mental health, women can ensure better outcomes for themselves and their families.

Gynaecological health plays a significant role in mental well-being. Regular gynae checkups, screenings, and open communication with healthcare providers are essential. Addressing gynaecological issues promptly can prevent them from affecting mental health. Conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis can have both physical and emotional impacts.

During preconception, mental health is just as important as physical health. According to a study published in NLM, 1 in 8 couples have trouble getting pregnant. This can impact the mental health concerns of women planning to conceive. Stress, anxiety, or unresolved mental health issues can affect fertility and overall well-being. Consulting a healthcare provider for mental health support during this phase is crucial. Therapy, stress management techniques, and a strong support system can help in preparing for a healthy pregnancy.

Pregnancy is a profound life event that sparks various emotional responses, which affect Maternal Mental Health. Although often joyous, it can also trigger mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Hormonal changes, past mental health issues, and the stress of impending parenthood all contribute. Recognising symptoms early and seeking support through therapy, support groups, or medical intervention can improve outcomes for both mother and baby.

The postpartum period is a critical time for mental health. Issues such as postpartum depression (PPD) which 1 in 5 women struggle with, anxiety, and psychosis can severely impact a mother’s ability to bond with her child and function daily. Stigma and a lack of awareness often prevent mothers from seeking necessary help. Informing new mothers and their families about the symptoms and available treatments is essential. 

Final Thoughts

Women’s Health Awareness Month is a perfect time to prioritise health, educate yourself on potential risks, and take preventive measures. At LPC, we offer comprehensive services, from fertility consultations to prenatal and gynaecological care, tailored to support your health journey. Schedule your preventive care appointments today and take proactive steps toward a healthier, happier life.

Prioritise your health this Women’s Health Month. Take charge of your well-being and embrace a healthier, happier lifestyle. For more information on maintaining good health during pregnancy, visit the NHS’s Keeping Well during Pregnancy page. If you think a referral might help, please speak to your midwife, Women’s Health specialists, GP or health visitor.

“We are here today to celebrate Women’s Health Awareness Month. We all know how important it is to make sure that we as women are taken care of through our whole life this can be during before or after pregnancy as well especially when we need a bit of more attention.”

– Ms Shaz Khojasteh

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