People might view motherhood as an exciting, beautiful thing for women. While that’s true, motherhood can also be lonely, overwhelming, and tough.
Calisa Kastning and Holly Brooks, founders of Moms Matter Now, explain that as new moms, they were frustrated to discover that more people don’t really talk about a woman’s emotional and psychological transition to motherhood.
“We often hear, “no one told me,” or “this wasn’t what I was expecting.” We were tired of moms feeling blind-sided and un-supported; left without the skills to navigate this massive shift in their identity. This felt like a CALL TO ACTION for us!” (1)
Kastning and Brooks wanted to find a way to help other moms with things they both wish they’d known on their own motherhood journeys.
They took matters into their own hands by founding Moms Matter Now, a startup that aims to support new moms amid rising mental health challenges as they transition into motherhood. Their goal is to provide women with the skills needed to navigate this new shift and life chapter.
Kastning is a nonprofit executive director and Brooks is a therapist specializing in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. The perinatal period is up to 24 months after giving birth.
They describe themselves as two working moms with a passion to “educate, empower and support women in pregnancy to early motherhood, so they don’t lose their minds, selves, and relationships.” (1)
New Moms & Mental Health Challenges In Motherhood
Matresence: The Transition To Motherhood
Most people know about the awkward, difficult phase of adolescence, but Brooks points out that moms also undergo a similar phase called “matresence.” (2)
She says that matresence is lesser known and often overlooked yet can be just as challenging as adolescence.
“It’s a real gap. People take birthing classes and breastfeeding classes, but there’s very little talk about how to be proactive in terms of the emotional and psychological transition to motherhood.
There are reactive services for women experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, but nothing to prepare women for this big identity shift and what it might do to their lives and relationship with their partner, if they have one.” (2)
She points out that there’s much excitement and expectations when a woman gets pregnant. But the shift changes to the child after giving birth. This sudden shift can lead to what she calls “baby shock.”
Brooks further explains: (2)
“When a woman is pregnant there’s so much excitement and expectation, and focus on things like her belly, the nursery, baby showers.
Then after birth, the attention, effort and health care visits are all about the baby. We believe that when a baby is born, so is a mother, and she needs support too.”
The COVID-19 Pandemic & Motherhood
Studies show that a child’s mental health and behavior may be directly influenced by the mental health of their parents and/or primary caregivers. (3)(4)
But one in seven women may suffer from depression and anxiety during the perinatal period, a time frame up to 24 months after giving birth. (5)
Some studies show that the number may have tripled during the pandemic as new moms cope with fears over both COVID-19 and motherhood. (5)
After learning that more moms are experiencing maternal anxiety and depression amid the pandemic, Brooks and Kastning launched Moms Matter Now on Mother’s Day 2021. (6)(7)
Brooks explained that she and Kastning had been working on Moms Matter Now for some time, but the pandemic made them realize the need to launch it ASAP.
“With daycares closing and school going virtual, someone had to be home with the kids and more often than not, that someone was the mom.
In fact, 80% of the 1.1 million Americans who left the workforce were women.
Women already do twice as much childcare and rearing, even if both parents work full time, and the pandemic exacerbated this even more… It felt like a crisis, but also a call to action.” (2)
Offering Help For Common Motherhood Mental Health Issues
Moms Matter Now aims to help expectant and new moms learn about motherhood issues that people rarely talk about.
Topics can include postpartum depression, acceptance of postpartum bodies, anxiety, and mom guilt.
They also offer help for new moms in dealing with maternal gatekeeping (reluctance to relinquish responsibility to others) and finding strategies to balance their mental load.
Membership will launch in February 2022 and will include live coaching, online courses, and a private support community. (1)