Maternal mental health and fertility

Updated: Nov 7, 2019

Pregnancy involves extraordinary bodily changes as well as brain alterations that support cognitive and emotional adjustments to the newborn.

Not much is known about the brain changes that occur during pregnancy, or the impact that genes and environment can have on a new mother's health and wellbeing. We also know little about why some women are more vulnerable to experiencing mental health problems such as depression after giving birth.

This autumn, I started as a postdoctoral researcher at NORMENT. I'm currently looking into how the brain changes during and after pregnancy, in order to better understand maternal mental health and phenomena such as postpartum depression. It is safe to say that I feel immensely lucky to have the opportunity to investigate female health in a great research environment. Here is a nicely written article by Cindy K Barha & Liisa A M Galea: The maternal 'baby brain' revisited

In addition to research focusing on maternal health, I believe that it is extremely important to keep raising awareness about fertility issues and miscarriages. There are so many couples that struggle with conceiving, and as many as 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss.

In connection with the recent pregnancy & infant loss remembrance day, the hashtag # facesoffertility revealed a number of touching stories from women who have experienced fertility issues or miscarriages. Every story is different, but these women have one important thing in common: they are not alone.

I'm impressed by the courage behind the Instagram posts, and grateful to the women who launched this campaign. For every post with the hashtag, $1 is donated to RESOLVE and Fertility Matters Canada. Check out The Lift and the most recent blog post by Joanna Griffiths, founder and CEO of Knix.

I also believe in talking more openly about how life can be without children. Some can't have babies, and some choose not to. Whether it is a choice or not, we should make room for conversations that increase our understanding of people's life situations. While silence may foster insecurity, loneliness, and shame, talking about these aspects will broaden our perspectives. Let's aim for openness, respect and support!

- Ann-Marie