Kate Middleton opened up about ‘mum guilt’ and the challenges of pregnancy and birth last week in the Happy Mummy Happy Baby podcast last week. Mum to future king, Prince George, and his siblings Charlotte and Louis said she was “not the happiest of pregnant people” due to severe morning sickness in all three of her pregnancies. She also described the pain of hearing her children ask why she couldn’t stay at home with them when she left them behind to undertake royal duties.
Whilst Kate’s life is certainly different to most British mums’ we still all have a lot in common. Pregnancy is a huge physical challenge, especially if we are working or looking after other children at the same time. It also raises deep psychological issues about our selfhood and identity which can lead to both anxiety and depression. In therapy, many mums express a sense of overwhelm and of always being ‘on duty’. Many more feel torn between home-life and career. It’s sometimes tough being a mum and the post-feminist social pressure to do and have it all doesn’t help mums who are feeling guilty or low. Of course this applies to dads and to women who aren’t mums too. But it was good to hear Kate highlighting the particular challenges facing modern mothers. Counselling can support mums who are struggling to adjust or feeling under pressure. For some it’s simply about letting off steam and having some extra support. For others having a baby may trigger long-standing issues from a mother’s own childhood which may need some processing or healing. It’s easy to think that when you become a parent your focus has to move entirely to your child’s wellbeing. But neglecting the mental health of mothers can be hugely detrimental to both parent and child. Happy – or at least happy enough – mums help make happy enough kids. So if you relate to Kate’s ‘mum guilt’ or pregnancy trauma don’t be afraid to reach out for help.