It’s already stressful trying to get pregnant. The bias within my own culture made it even more difficult.

In Asian culture, the traditional belief is that all women are supposed to have children. And that trying to conceive, pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum are just normal steps that women must go through. Even today, this bias is still true among modern Asian families.

For starters, there’s the pressure to have kids in the first place. Then there is also the assumption that women should not worry or fear about any aspect of getting pregnant or giving birth. For example, when I was worried about labor pain, my mom would tell me, “All women go through that. Not a big deal.” Note, this was coming from a woman whose generation never had epidurals; most delivered vaginally without anesthesia.

Beyond giving birth, the postpartum period can also be challenging. For example, among my female friends where both partners are Asian, it is very rare to see male partners providing significant postpartum care to the baby. It goes against the “hidden belief” that everyone follows but doesn’t talk about: raising children and housework are women’s jobs (regardless of the job or education you had before pregnancy) and when men men take care of the children, it is considered extra. “help” that is done as a favor.

Unfortunately, these cultural biases have a real-life negative impact on the mental health of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) mothers. This is backed up by research showing that compared to white women, Asian women are almost 9 times more likely to report suicidal thoughts in the immediate postpartum. Despite this statistic, we also know that there is still a huge gap in culturally competent mental health resources and support for Asian mothers.

Related: It’s time to address the lack of maternal mental health resources for moms AAPI

4 Mental Health Tips for Moms AAPI

While we cannot completely eliminate these centuries-old cultural biases overnight, may be aware of them. Beyond that, we can harness this awareness to make more informed decisions for our health. Here are some tips based on my personal experience that may help.

1. Learn about maternal mental health

It’s a simple fact that hormonal and lifestyle changes during pregnancy and the postpartum period can be difficult to deal with. This is not something to be embarrassed about.

Especially in the postpartum period, it’s easy to feel helpless, overwhelmed, and even guilty for not doing what’s “best” for your child. Most of the time, you may not even feel like yourself because your lifestyle has changed drastically. It’s important to remember that you’re a new mom, and it’s actually normal to feel like you’re on a never-ending emotional roller coaster.

To help, my recommendation is that you learn as much as you can about maternal mental health. That may seem like reading about the signs of conditions such as postpartum anxiety and postpartum depressionasking your partner to helps you spot those signsworking to identify your ‘trigger’ areas and your biggest fears, and finding proactive ways to address those fears during the perinatal period, whether through individual therapy, group therapy, medication, mindfulness techniques, and meditation, or a combination.

2. Be aware of your own biases and cultural norms

Like any culture, there are biases 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 was very little understanding of the difference between daily psychological care and the need for psychiatric treatment. The lasting impact of this bias has created a hidden sentiment that can make Asians feel that mental health support is something they don’t want to be associated with.

Related: More than half of new moms don’t get the mental health support they need

Other cultural biases that can influence thoughts about motherhood include the traditional Asian image that a mother should be loving, devoted, soft, gentle, and never aggressive. For me, this bias caused internal struggle and stress, as I didn’t feel like I could be a successful mother and be a successful CEO at the same time. Look.

By simply becoming aware of these biases, we can spot unhelpful thought patterns and aim to make more rational decisions. Working with a therapist or participating in a support group can also help here, as identifying those thought patterns can be difficult to do on your own.

3. Demystify your fertility

Earlier generations in Asia didn’t know much about fertility or pregnancy. This is partly because their journeys are physically easier, as they generally give birth at a much younger age compared to today’s AAPI moms.

However, for many of us now, fertility can seem like a mystery. To relieve some of my own stress related to getting pregnant, I used Mira to track my hormones while trying to conceive. With Mira’s support, I no longer needed to Google every new symptom I experienced, which was very reassuring. That knowledge was powerful.

Related: The 7 Most Misunderstood Fertility Myths, Explained

For AAPI couples looking to get pregnant, I recommend gathering resources to understand your fertility, hormones, and reproductive health. That may seem like first programming a preconception checkup with your OB/GYN, who may refer you to a fertility specialist if you have further questions or want testing. Reaching out to friends to ask about their fertility journeys can also be enlightening and end the Stigma around the use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) or other tools to get pregnant.

4. Seek online and offline support communities

Another thing that the Mira community helped me with was that I was able to see what other women are going through. Through our users, I was able to see their stories, emotions and experiences. This helped me broaden my understanding of the definition of “mom,” and made me focus less on many of the downsides of pregnancy and motherhood that I feared.

This is why I will always recommend joining a community of other women who are going through what you are going through. Whether virtual or in person, they can provide much-needed support and perspective on her journey as an expectant or new mom, and help her feel less alone.

Related: Bookmark these virtual support groups on your TTC trip

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *