In Asian cultures, there is a traditional belief that all women should have children. And pregnancy, pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum are normal steps a woman must go through. Even today, this prejudice still holds true among modern Asian families.
First of all, there is the pressure of having children. Then there is also the assumption that women should not worry or be afraid of any aspect of pregnancy or childbirth. No big deal. Keep in mind, this is from a generation of women who have never had an epidural, most of whom had vaginal deliveries without anesthesia.
Beyond childbirth, the postpartum period can also be difficult. For example, among my friends whose partners are both Asian, it is very rare to see a male partner provide primary postpartum baby care. It goes against the “belief”. Parenting and household chores are women’s work (regardless of what kind of work or education they had prior to pregnancy), and when a man takes care of a child, it is considered superfluous. “Helping” out of courtesy.
Unfortunately, these cultural biases actually negatively affect the mental health of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) mothers. This is supported by research showing that women are nearly nine times more likely to report having suicidal thoughts soon after giving birth. Despite this statistic, we also know that there is still a significant gap between culturally competent mental health resources and support for mothers in Asia.
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4 Mental Health Tips for AAPI Moms
While these centuries-old cultural prejudices cannot be completely removed overnight, can Be careful with them. Additionally, you can leverage this awareness to make more informed decisions about your health. Here are some useful tips based on my personal experience.
1. Learn about maternal mental health
It’s a simple fact that hormonal and lifestyle changes can be difficult to manage during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
Especially in the postpartum period, it’s easy to feel helpless, overwhelmed, and even guilty for not doing your best for your child. For the most part, your lifestyle has changed so much that you might even not be yourself. It is important to remember that you are a new mother. In fact, it’s normal to feel like you’re on a never-ending emotional roller coaster ride.
To that end, I encourage you to learn as much as you can about mothers’ mental health. It reads for signs of conditions such as postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression, asks your partner to help you spot those signs, and works to identify your “trigger” areas and greatest fears. It may be similar to finding positive ways to deal with those fears: perinatal through one-on-one therapy, group therapy, medication, mindfulness and meditation techniques, or a combination thereof.
2. Be aware of your own cultural biases and norms
As in any culture, there are prejudices and norms within the AAPI community that shape the way we view situations and ourselves.
When it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, the traditional view in the AAPI community is that having a “mental illness” (such as postpartum depression or anxiety) is scary. This is because, traditionally, there has been little understanding of the difference between daily psychological care and necessary psychiatric treatment. The lasting effects of this prejudice have created hidden feelings that can make Asians feel that mental health support is something they don’t want to associate with.
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Other cultural prejudices that can influence attitudes about motherhood include traditional Asian images of mothers as caring, devoted, soft, gentle and never aggressive. For me, this prejudice caused internal struggle and stress as I felt I could not be a successful mother to Mila while being a successful CEO.
Just being aware of these biases can help you spot unhelpful thought patterns and make more rational decisions. Again, working with a therapist or joining a support group can help. Because identifying these thought patterns can be difficult to do on your own.
3. Demystify fertility
Previous generations in Asia didn’t know much about fertility and pregnancy. This is due to their journey being physically easier as they typically gave birth at a much younger age compared to his current AAPI mom.
However, fertility can feel like a mystery to many of us now. Tracked. With Mira’s support, I don’t have to search on Google every time I have a new symptom, which makes me very comfortable. That knowledge was powerful.
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For AAPI couples wishing to conceive, we encourage you to gather resources to understand fertility, hormones, and reproductive health. It may look like scheduling a preconception test with your OB/GYN first. Your OB/GYN may refer you to a fertility specialist if you have more questions or want to continue testing. Reaching out to a friend and asking them about their fertility journey can also be enlightening and help break the stigma against getting pregnant using assisted reproductive technology (ART) and other tools.
4. Find supportive communities online and offline
Another thing the Mira community has helped me with is being able to see what other women are going through. I made it. This helped broaden my understanding of the definition of “mom” and put less focus on the many downsides of pregnancy and motherhood that I feared.
This is why I always recommend joining a community of other women who are going through what you are going through. It provides much-needed support and perspective on your journey as a new mother and helps you feel less alone.
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