Anna Ceesay experienced low mood and anxiety herself during pregnancy. Here she explains how the idea for Motherdom came about: “I set up Motherdom after hitting rock bottom in my second pregnancy. I was incredibly lucky to receive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) through the NHS. But, once I started to feel better, I wondered what I could do to help other women who might be in the same situation.
“I’m a journalist, and I realised nothing like Motherdom existed, so I set it up! We published four editions of our print magazine in 2019 and have just launched our new website. At the moment, we’re receiving multiple pitches from mums every week who want to tell their mental health or wellbeing story. That tells me there’s a real need for this platform.”
An issue of increasing importance
The impact of lockdown has certainly affected new mums’ mental health hugely. A recent study from the Journal of Psychiatric Research reported huge increases in levels of depression and anxiety in new mums.
A UK-wide research team examined the psychological and social experiences of over 600 women with babies between birth and twelve weeks old during the first lockdown. Based on the completion of mental health questionnaires, the researchers found that 43 per cent of the women met the criteria for clinically relevant depression, and 61 per cent met the criteria for anxiety. The usual rates of depression and anxiety after birth in the UK are around 15 per cent.
“These sobering numbers demonstrate that we need to talk about mums’ mental health, now more than ever”, says Ceesay.
Gathering stories and expertise
The Motherdom website includes real-life stories, a podcast, advice from experts, a searchable directory, reviews, recipes and much more. Ceesay explains: “We have an editorial board of 16 amazing women who are all experts in different areas of maternal health and wellbeing. They review all of the original content before it’s published to make sure that it’s as safe, supportive and as accurate as possible.”
When Motherdom was first created, Ceesay wrote “ 50 per cent of the content myself”, but rarely writes any pieces now. She says: “While I’m not religious, I do recognise that faith is a great source of strength for many people. I hope Motherdom will reach women of all faiths, and also those who don’t have a faith. Some of our contributors are practising Christians.”
One of those is Beki Beer, who comments: “Being a contributor for Motherdom is a great honour. Faith declarations are a tool I use daily to speak God’s truth over my life, and I was able to share my heart behind these alongside my journey with postnatal depression. My aim is to encourage readers that even in the darkest times there is hope and that they are enough just as they are.”
Thomasina Legend agrees: “Contributing to Motherdom has been great for me because it gave me a platform to express myself and open up about motherhood and the intricate parts of my journey I could not previously bring myself to talk about. I so appreciate the freedom to share about my struggles, as well as how my faith has got me through some of the darkest times of my life.”
To check out Motherdom visit motherdom.co.uk
Image credit: Natalya Chagrin