Guide to Maternal & New Parent Mental Health

The journey to parenthood is an exciting experience filled with joy, love, and growth. It can also be a time of stress, anxiety, and emotional upheaval. The changes that come with pregnancy, childbirth, and caring for a newborn can take a toll on anyone’s mental health.

“Parenthood also brings upheaval,” writes a mom on a NAMI Blog post about her experience with postpartum depression. “Daily routines become irrelevant, sleep is sporadic and scarce, and guilt can take over in ways it never did before. Our old, familiar lives vanish. Like our babies, we’re born into new way of life, and it can take a while to adjust and adapt.”

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act, as well as how we relate to others, handle stress, and make healthy choices —and is important at every stage of life. Maternal mental health, also known as the perinatal period, refers specifically to the psychological well-being during pregnancy and up to 18-24 months after giving birth.

The statistics around maternal and new parent mental health conditions are eye-opening:

  • Each year, 500,000 pregnant women in the U.S. will experience a mental health condition either before or during pregnancy.
  • As many as 75% of pregnant individuals with mental health symptoms do not receive treatment.
  • Adverse childhood experiences can increase risk for prenatal depression symptoms, especially in low-income women.
  • 1 in 10 men experience postpartum depression.

It’s crucial to understand that maternal mental health concerns can affect all parents, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. This guide is designed to provide support and resources for all expecting and new parents, including teens and young mothers, nonbinary and transgender birth givers, and non-birthing partners. In our guide, you’ll find:

  • Practical strategies for managing mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and bipolar disorder before, during, and after pregnancy.
  • Insights into treatments available to treat mental health symptoms, including medications, throughout the perinatal period.
  • Tips and resources to nurture your mental health, including self-care practices and building a strong support network.

Remember, you are not alone. Millions of parents navigate the emotional complexities of parenthood, and there are many resources available to support you through the challenges. “I understood intimately how some people might not even know that there is a path to recovery — that we just need the right help to get there,” shares another mom on a NAMI Blog post. We hope to provide you with information and guidance as you prioritize your mental health during this extraordinary time.

Need Immediate Help?

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency and needs immediate assistance:

  • Call or text 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
  • Call or text 1-833-852-6262 National Maternal Mental Health Hotline
  • Call or text 1-800-944-4773 Postpartum International Support
  • Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room

Advocating for Perinatal Mental Health Care Equity

The availability of and access to quality and equitable perinatal care is critical for your mental health. However, underrepresented groups often face challenges getting their overall health care needs fully met, and this can compromise mental health. Learn more about getting the care you deserve on the Mental Health Before Pregnancy webpage.

Mental Health Before Pregnancy

With the right resources and professional care, having a pre-existing mental health condition does not need to prevent you from experiencing a healthy pregnancy and embracing new parenthood. Discuss your background openly with health care providers, loved ones, and support communities to help you access the services, understanding and reassurance you need during this transition.

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Mental Health During Pregnancy

Protecting your mental health during pregnancy is protecting your baby’s health, too. Pregnancy brings a whirlwind of physical and emotional changes—fluctuating hormones, changing body image, and the enormity of becoming a parent that can spark anxiety and depression or exacerbate existing mental health conditions. This section offers guidance on recognizing the signs that you may need additional support, tips for having open discussions with your health care providers, strategies for managing medications, and ways to emotionally and mentally prepare for the profound experience of labor, delivery, and new motherhood.

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Mental Health for New Parents

The “fourth trimester” after childbirth can be a test for new parents— from breastfeeding challenges and post-delivery healing to navigating postpartum mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or psychosis. In this section, you’ll find guidance for recognizing signs that you may need help and strategies for safeguarding your mental health during this tender stage. Addressing realities with self-compassion, not shame, is key to nurturing your mental health and allows you to embrace the joy of new parenthood.

Learn More


For maternal and new parent mental health information, please refer to these links and organizations to learn more:

Thank you to our partners for making these resources possible.

NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).