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Who Mothers the New Mother?

How to support mothers' mental health during the fourth trimester.
Updated: May 16, 2024

 Typically, women receive all the attention and medical care while pregnant. But once the baby is born…. All the attention and medical care goes to the baby, leaving the new mother more or less ignored.

Indeed, a new report just published shows that only 23% of mothers said they felt very supported by their healthcare provided during the postpartum phase. 

This is a big mistake! Women need attention during the postpartum period, also known as the fourth trimester. This 12-week period after birth brings great joy, but it’s also a very vulnerable time. 

Why? Because new mothers experience so many changes: their body changes, their emotions may be overwhelming, their relationship with their partner changes, they are not “free” anymore, they may be sleep deprived, they may feel isolated…. Basically, a new mom’s whole universe shifts. New mums need support.

It’s no wonder that 1 in 5 new mums are affected by mental health issues. The most common ones are postpartum depression and anxiety. Other women experience more severe conditions such as perinatal psychosis, PTSD, and mood disorders. 

Many women do not experience any mental health issues but need support getting used to their new reality. Having a child is a deeply transformative experience. 

One common issue that new mothers experience are infant-harm related thoughts. What are these? They are thoughts of unintentionally or intentionally harming the baby. They may come in form of:

  • Thoughts (e.g., “My baby might die”)
  • Impulses (e.g., having the urge to shake or throw the baby”)
  • Images (e.g., a mental picture of the baby’s head hitting the wall)

These thoughts are incredibly common among new mothers. It is estimated that nearly all new mothers have them! Yet, we don’t discuss them even though they make us feel horribly uncomfortable, guilty, and ashamed. 

New mother

Fathers can also have these thoughts. There is not a lot of research on this, but it is estimated that 2/3 of dads experience them. 

It is very important to note that having these thoughts does not usually mean that these mothers or fathers represent a risk to the baby. The fact that they feel horrified when having these thoughts, is a strong sign that they are not going to hurt their baby. 

However, the emotions that these thoughts provoke can be very powerful and disturbing and therefore getting support is advisable. For some people, it may be enough to discuss it with a close friend or relative. Others may need professional support. 

One of our goals at REC Parenting is to support mothers’ mental health during the fourth trimester. This is why we have a masterclass (you can also listen as a podcast) with Dr Caroline Boyd talking about infant-harm related thoughts. Caroline is a renowned clinical psychologist, and the leading expert in this field. Her masterclass is incredibly informative, empathetic, and full of applicable tips.

If you are expecting a baby or recently had a baby, I really encourage you to watch or listen to this masterclass. If you know anyone in this situation, do let them know about it. I promise that you won’t regret it.

To get access to this masterclass, you need to subscribe to REC Parenting. Your subscription will gives you access to our:

  • 1-2-1 support 
  • Library of masterclasses 
  • Blog and toolkits
  • Special events

The good news is that to celebrate our partnership with Family Education, we are offering a 20% discount on our Crawling, Walking, and Running Plans. The discount code is: FAMILY EDUCATION.  

Come and join us! Parenting is the most important job you will ever do, why not do it from a place of research and support?

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to get in touch with me:

I would love to hear from you. And remember to submit here any questions you may have about anything parenting. We will reply to them in next week’s Q&A email. 



Dr. Ana Aznar

About Ana

Dr. Ana Aznar is the founder of REC Parenting. She is a psychologist with a passion to support… Read more

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