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Mommy Burnout vs. Maternal Mental Health: Understanding the Tragic Consequences of Mental Strain

Updated: 1 day ago





Moms are strong, superwomen, resilient, nurturing, and loving, but they are still human beings and do not run on batteries. Mothers need rest, mothers need support, mothers need physical and mental breaks, and mothers need more appreciation. It is essential to properly care for yourself before you can effectively care for others.


Whether you're expecting a new mother navigating the postpartum period for the first time or already a mother with children, it's crucial to recognize signs of distress and reach out for assistance. Don't hesitate to seek support from loved ones, family, friends, or mental and healthcare professionals.


A recent devastating incident resulted in the loss of not one life but two, highlighting the urgent need for support and preventative measures. While I may not have details about this specific incident, I aim to use it to remind others about the importance of providing assistance and resources. By prioritizing support and preventative services, we can work towards preventing similar tragedies and breaking the cycle of maternal burnout and mental health disorders.


In a tragic incident in Kansas City, a 1-month-old child was found dead. The Kansas City Police Department responded to the call and discovered the unresponsive child (Staff, 2024). Detectives launched an investigation due to the suspicious circumstances surrounding the child's death (Staff, 2024). The Jackson County Prosecutor's Office later charged the infant's mother, Mariah Thomas, with endangering the welfare of a child in the 1st degree, resulting in the child's death (Staff, 2024).


First responders noted burns on the child and were told by Thomas that she accidentally placed the child in the oven instead of the crib while putting them down for a nap (Staff, 2024). Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker acknowledged the gravity of the situation, expressing condolences for the loss and trust in the criminal justice system to address the tragedy appropriately (Staff, 2024).


Mom Burnout

Mom burnout happens when moms feel constantly stressed and tired from taking care of their families all the time (Fuller, 2024). This is especially common among moms who work full-time or don't have another parent to help (Fuller, 2024). It can make moms feel like they're not doing well and lose confidence in their parenting abilities. At the same time, they might also feel guilty for not being more connected to their kids (Fuller, 2024).


As a result of mom burnout, mothers often report feeling exhausted and disengaged from their role as parents, such as going through the motions rather than being present or engaged with their children (Fuller, 2024). Many parents also feel like they're not doing a good job and are doubting their abilities to care for their kids well enough (Fuller, 2024). 


The effects of mommy burnout can be experienced by either stay-at-home moms or those working outside the home (Fuller, 2024). These symptoms may include reduced personal and professional effectiveness (Fuller, 2024). An extreme desire to be away from your children and acting outside of your philosophical orientation toward parenting (such as harsh punishments or overblown reactions to minor issues) (Fuller, 2024). It can also be a symptom of stay-at-home mom depression (Fuller, 2024).


Here are several potential symptoms of mom burnout:

  • Extreme mental fatigue or physical exhaustion

  • Being "short-tempered"

  • Feeling emotionally depleted

  • Feeling disconnected or isolated from others, including one's children

  • Feeling mom guilt about behaviors, reactions, thoughts, or feelings, or about not spending enough time with your children

  • Feeling like you're an inadequate parent

  • Feeling anxious or overly focused on what comes next

  • Experiencing mom rage— being hostile or having extreme emotional highs and lows

  • Questioning life choices such as regretting having children

  • Entertaining "escapist" fantasies and unhealthy daydreaming

  • Extreme feelings of "never good enough" at home or at work

  • Concerns that your children deserve someone "better" than you

  • Disconnection from partner/co-parent

  • Exhibiting cold mother syndrome

  • Social fatigue preventing you from tapping into support networks.

  • Inability to ask for support or state one's needs

(Fuller, 2024)


If you are still determining whether you are experiencing mom burnout, please click here to take a brief quiz: https://www.psychedmommy.com/burnout-quiz. 

Feel free to contact us if you'd like to access our services. We offer a free program designed to help moms cope with burnout and feel better.


Maternal Mental Health Disorders

Maternal mental health, also known as perinatal mental health, refers to a mother's overall emotional, social, and mental well-being, both during and after pregnancy (Mental Health Medications | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, n.d.). 


  • As many as 1 in 5 women will have mood and anxiety disorders while pregnant, with the most common being depression (Mental Health Medications | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, n.d.).

  • Only about 10% of pregnant women will seek treatment for these concerns (Mental Health Medications | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, n.d.).


Risks Of Not Treating A Mental Health Condition While Pregnant

Risks for the baby

  • Premature birth

  • Low birth weight

  • Sleeping and feeding troubles

  • Cognitive deficits

(Mental Health Medications | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, n.d.).


Risks for the mother

  • Poor prenatal care

  • Depression or other mental health disorders occurring after giving birth

  • Increased risk of substance use

(Mental Health Medications | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, n.d.).


Depression Vs. "Baby Blues"

Baby Blues

  • Unexplainable mood changes

  • Lasts less than 2 weeks after delivery

  • Generally happy feelings, with some low mood

(Mental Health Medications | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, n.d.).


Postpartum Depression

  • Feeling sad, worthless, or hopeless

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in life, hard time concentrating

  • Difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite

  • Thoughts of harming self or the baby

  • Lasts for more than 2 weeks

(Mental Health Medications | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, n.d.).


If you're uncertain whether you're facing maternal mental health challenges, you can request a free screening through Werkitmoms. Simply contact us at community@werkitmoms.com, and we'll happily provide you with the necessary support.


References

Fuller, K., MD. (2024, March 5). Mom burnout: Symptoms, causes, & how to recover. Choosing Therapy. https://www.choosingtherapy.com/mom-burnout/

Mental health medications | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatment/Mental-Health-Medications/Maternal-Mental-Health

Staff, K. (2024, February 10). Police: Baby died after mother mistakenly put her in oven instead of crib. https://www.wlbt.com. https://www.wlbt.com/2024/02/10/police-baby-died-after-mother-mistakenly-put-her-oven-instead-crib/

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