New mothers experiencing a range of different emotions is not unheard of. In fact, according to the Personal Social Services Research Unit, around 10 to 20 percent of new mothers in the UK develop mental health issues during or after giving birth. Costing the National Health Service (NHS) billions, the health issues include postnatal depression and OCD.
However, a new study conducted by Channel Mum has recently shared that four in 10 women experience hallucinations and scary thoughts after delivering their child, and feelings of shame make many of them keep this to themselves. The research, which involved 1,670 women, saw that nearly half (49 percent) of new mothers experiencing mental health issues kept it to themselves out of fear of being judged.
Siobhan Freegard, the founder of Channel Mum, said: “When your mind is broken, mums still feel they have to keep it hidden. These thoughts are disturbing and terrifying – but very often they are part of becoming a mum. We need to talk about it, normalize it, and make mums realize they are not alone."
The research highlighted that 62 percent of women suffering from hallucinations felt that something horrible could happen to their child. What’s worse is that 43 percent of women were worried they'd be labeled a bad parent, while 13 percent admitted to thinking about killing or harming their child.
One in 100 women surveyed also added that they felt as though their mother-in-law could try to take away their baby. Some mothers felt their newborns may be taken by a stranger, eaten by a crocodile, or even snatched by the Grim Reaper.
Channel Mum also found that 39 percent of mothers believed that their spouse and baby would be better off if they weren’t in the picture, and 16 percent contemplated committing suicide.
They also noted that 19 percent of new mothers with mental health problems refused to seek help due to fears that their child would be taken into care. Meanwhile, 17 percent of women contemplated self-harm to cope with their feelings.
It is unclear exactly how the study was conducted, so methodological limitations could have affected the results. Nevertheless, the findings certainly highlight the fact that mental illness is a widespread issue among new mothers, something that needs to be addressed.
“There is so much pressure to cope and be the perfect parent that when you are crying inside while everyone around you is smiling, it makes you feel you are failing your baby and your whole family," Freegard added. "Mums need to know they will get the right support and their baby won’t be taken away.”