Nurturing Mama's Mental Health: Three Things to Practice Every Day

maternal mental health
Male holding infant and woman arm's around male, holding baby's hand

I’m fine. 

I’ll get through this.

Every mother who has come before me has figured it out.

I’ll sleep again someday.

If I push through, my kids will have a good childhood. 

If you’re a mom, do these thoughts sound familiar? 

If your partner is a mom - what I share in this post is for you, too!

As light is cast upon the 85% of mothers who experience postpartum blues (or more) this week for Maternal Mental Health Day, I can’t help but revisit some of these thoughts that passed through my own head during my first few years of motherhood.

From personal experience - alongside stories from friends and my clients in couples therapy - most women encounter an immense amount of pressure in motherhood. We struggle to make sense of conflicting thoughts and feelings, so we muscle ahead, forcing ourselves to simply be the “best.”

Some of those conflicting thoughts and feelings look like:

I can barely drive my car safely because I’m so tired, but good moms take their babies to mommy & me music classes.

I don’t think I’m producing enough milk, but if I don’t keep exclusively breastfeeding, am I failing to give them what’s best?

I love this child in a way I’ve never experienced before, and I am angrier than I’ve ever felt in my life.

I should start having sex with my partner at 6 weeks so they don’t get annoyed, but my body (and brain) doesn’t feel ready.

We often fear how these internal battles will be perceived if we bring them to the light, leaving us feeling isolated, overwhelmed, and burnt out. 

The idea of getting help from a professional sounds “dramatic” to many women, who can’t justify an hour of their time spent “just for them.” Or who struggle to rely on their partner to watch the baby each week. Or who think that admitting we’re struggling is a reflection of how “good” we are at motherhood.

So what does this look like from the outside?


If offered help, we shrug off our need for it.

We make a joke about our appearance or our lack of sleep.

If our partner expresses concern for our wellbeing, we assure them everything is okay.

The problem with minimizing is that we’re not allowing the basic human need for connection and belonging to become a lifeboat during a time where receiving support is vital. Especially when it comes to opening up to our partner, holding back doesn’t allow for the vulnerability that fosters trust and connection.

I know it can feel scary. I know we don’t want to be a burden or - worse - doubted in our ability to care for our child. AND I want you to know it’s possible to enjoy these precious years rather than holding on for dear life…if you’re willing to seek the help so many of us need.

If you’re struggling to navigate this season as a couple, there are three paths forward I’d like to share with you. Each of these suggestions is linked to building stronger connections between partners - and such human connection is widely known to improve mental health and life satisfaction.


Practice witnessing each other’s experience

Key elements in a healthy relationship are curiosity and empathy.

How can we bring these to the table? We can offer validation. 

When one partner is closed off, validation begins with asking how they’re feeling (curiosity). Being the one to open the conversation tells your partner that she can feel safe sharing her inner world with you. Initiating is often the permission our partner needs to drop their walls.

As your partner shares their internal experience, validating their challenge looks like (empathy):

  • Listening without problem solving
  • Avoiding deflection
  • Deciphering between comfort and or dismissal

This looks like avoiding phrases that sound like “It’s fine - you don’t need to overthink it” or “Maybe you could try…”

Instead, reflect back what you’re hearing your partner say.

“This sounds like a lot.” 

“It makes sense that you’re not feeling like yourself.” 

“I can tell how much you want to be the best parent you can be.”

For more on validation, you can head over to this post on communication patterns that might be keeping you stuck.


Prioritize Mental Load Check-Ins

Once a baby enters the equation, responsibilities and roles shift drastically between a couple. More often than not, the added weight defaults to the shoulders of Mom.

Remember: She’s new to this, too. The effort it takes to figure things out is the responsibility of both parents.

Forming a clear plan of how to ensure a fair distribution of the mental load can increase a mother’s mental health and serves as a preventative measure for resentment and contempt within the relationship. It benefits both partners.

One of the first steps you can take is to make the invisible work visible. During check-ins, partners can share about tasks that often go unseen, and that only show up when we snap. When they’re laid out on the table, it’s easier to make a clear plan of action that both partners feel good about.

On the topic of the mental load, I’ll leave you with this: A to-do list is not the answer. In a fairly distributed partnership, both partners are proactive about the areas they manage - taking complete responsibility, from conception to execution. 


Seek professional resources 

On May 1st, we celebrate Maternal Mental Health Day. Part of this celebration is to acknowledge the normalcy and necessity of therapeutic services. As a psychologist and couples therapist, I can’t tell you how many times my clients have expressed that they wish they’d sought professional support sooner.

Providers are here to help you move through life - through a relationship, motherhood, or hard transitions - more easily. They exist to guide you toward the root of your emotional challenges in order for you to experience practical and lasting change in your wellbeing.

You don't have to wait for support. Your experience is real and it matters.

 Mama, you are not alone. And you matter.


When we prioritize regular check ins, validation and witnessing of experiences, and seeking support, we can feel more connected to ourselves, each other, and with our children. A gentle reminder: You are navigating through one of the hardest seasons of your relationship. You can thrive in parenthood, together.



Dr. Tracy


** For more support, please seek additional resources available on the Postpartum Support International