Wednesday 14 November 2018

New Irish mums report feeling 'lonely, fatigued and anxious' - new study

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Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

A survey of over 3,500 new mothers in Ireland found that the majority experience loneliness, fatigue and anxiety.

Some 86 per cent of women say they are happier since becoming a mother.

But 73pc said they felt overwhelmed, 62pc reported feeling lonely, and 60pc felt anxious as a new mother.

The Motherhood in Ireland study, by everymum, surveyed both new mums and mums of children one year and older living in Ireland.

While one third of the mothers said they felt like superwoman, 63pc said they doubted themselves and 84pc were fatigued.

The women in the study also called for more supports for parents of young children in Ireland.

Some 50pc of mums with children of 1 year and older believe Ireland does not support motherhood; 69pc believe a more flexible work culture would better support mums, while 64pc agree that more access to affordable childcare would be of benefit to them.

Dr Sara O’Byrne, senior clinical psychologist, said the study highlights the complexity of the role of the mother and the multiple factors that are at play, in terms of family, society, and balancing family with career.

“Over half of new mothers indicated that the transition to motherhood was either overwhelming, exhausting or emotionally challenging.”

“Related to this, over 1000 women out of 1155 reported difficult emotions in the initial year of their baby’s arrival, including mood swings, anxiety, racing thoughts, loneliness and feeling overwhelmed.”

“What this highlights is the emotional changes that coincide with this huge life event and the need for further supports in the community and within families.”

 “Many women indicated that the depth of love they felt for their new-born was the most positive aspect of the change,” she added.

“This suggests that motherhood is highly nuanced and it would not be appropriate to indicate that this period is entirely one of stress and change. What mothers are certainly grappling with is the change of identity and the challenge of negotiating multiple systems, some of which – for example, the workplace - are not always viewed as supportive,” concluded Dr. O’Byrne. 

Some 3,708 mothers, from every county in Ireland, of different nationalities and of different relationship status, were surveyed for the study.

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