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'Mothers are afraid to say they're struggling because they're afraid they'll be judged'

The Paint Your Bump campaign is running next week to encourage women to speak about the difficulties of motherhood.

Image: Paint Your Bump via Facebook

A CAMPAIGN TO get pregnant women in Ireland to paint their bumps for a day is being run next month, with the aim of dispelling the myth that transitioning into motherhood is effortless.

Psychotherapists Fran Buckley and Elva Glynn launched the Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day’s “Paint Your Bump” campaign for the first time on social media last year, and it will run again on 2 May.

The campaign aims to support women in their transition to motherhood and to start a conversation about the everyday struggles of being a mother, and before the baby is even born.

The idea for the campaign stemmed from Buckley’s experience during pregnancy. While she said she didn’t experience post-natal depression and had an immense amount of support from family, she said she was still hit with a huge sense of shock at the life change.

“When I had my daughter, and even through pregnancy, it was such an immediate change in my life, it was shocking,” Buckley told TheJournal.ie. 

“This was something I had planned for. It doesn’t mean that just because it was planned that it can’t be a shock or a huge adjustment. I remember thinking why aren’t people talking about this shock,” she said.

A lot of women during pregnancy may not enjoy the experience and may struggle during the pregnancy. That can set a mindset for them, in some way, that they feel they’re a failure.
That isn’t the case at all and, unfortunately, it’s that society puts out this image that pregnancy is roses and wonderful when in reality it isn’t.

Stigma difficulties

Buckley believes that the campaign can work as the first step to breaking down the stigma surrounding pregnant women speaking out about their mental health difficulties.

“Women are afraid to say how they really feel if they’re struggling because they’re afraid they’re going to be judged,” she said.

There is a pressure out there that we have to be seen to be doing it all and our needs somewhat come last.

“We’re very vulnerable when we have children, I think it’s a very vulnerable time, you’ve just been given this new little person, the sense of responsibility is massive. There’s no such thing as a perfect mam, they don’t exist,” she said.

Buckley added that, from her experience, she believes there is a lack of support for pregnant women in Ireland.

“There’s a lack of support for women who have post-natal depression, too. We need an overall holistic approach.”

Paint Your Bump

Speaking of last year’s Paint Your Bump campaign, Buckley said there was huge interest, and that many women made contact with herself and Glynn to share their story of mental health struggles.

“The events are fun, they’re not too serious. We want to get the message across that they can come along, get their bump painted, but also to plant the seed that their maternal mental health matters and that it’s ok to talk,” she said.

We would hope that as women start talking, it gives more women permission to do the same.
Our ultimate wish is to raise awareness and offer support to the many women who may be suffering in silence and encourage them to nurture their maternal mental wellbeing.

The Paint Your Bump campaign will run on 2 May 2018. Women are being invited to attend events in Dublin, Galway and Letterkenny. More information can be found here.

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