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7 Ways Motherhood Can Benefit Women's Mental Health

By HERWriter
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Mental Health related image Photo: Getty Images

Although many research studies focus on how to combat mental health problems associated with pregnancy and motherhood, there are some notable mental health benefits to being a mother.

Here are seven psychological benefits mothers can experience (although some are not limited to only mothers) in honor of the upcoming Mother’s Day on May 8, 2011. Some of these examples are from experts, others are from observation and input from friends and family.

1) Motherhood can lead to maturation for some women, said Barbara Holstein, a positive psychologist in New Jersey. Having to take care of someone else can lead to this maturation, and it’s a positive personal transformation. This maturation can also include becoming less self-absorbed and more giving to others.

2) Mothers can also have a chance to see their different strengths, said Holstein, an author of the book “The Truth: I’m a Girl, I’m Smart and I Know Everything.” These strengths include seeing how they can handle the stresses involved with pregnancy and motherhood, like juggling multiple responsibilities. The feeling after completing a challenge can be very inspiring.

3) “Having the chance to live with children and seeing a lot of the funny things they do and the developmental steps really heartens a person,” Holstein said. Seeing the wonders of life and the growth of children can contribute to happiness. She added that it’s important to have a good sense of humor. “If you’re going to raise sane children and you’re going to stay sane, you better have a really good sense of humor, and I think children promote that … because they’re funny.” She gave the example of a mother telling her young daughter not to play with the worms in the dirt because they’re dirty, so the daughter tried to clean them in the sink. “You just have to laugh,” Holstein said. As the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine.

4) A recent study found that “mothers who feed their babies breast milk exclusively, as opposed to formula, are more likely to bond emotionally with their child during the first few months after delivery,” according to a ScienceDaily article. They also responded more often to their infants’ cries.

Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Motherhood should not be contemplated as a way to alleviate mental illness, whether it´s depression, anxiety, anger uncontrolled etc.
Motherhood should be born out of compassion and a genuine desire to give life.
I also think that women who suffer form different mental illnesses should attend some sort of therapy and stay focused on recovery and making progress. Enjoying life, getting reward from their own achievements and learn to love themselves instead of waiting for the world to love them.
Being a parent is a life changing decision, first because we are responsible for educating another human being, how can you educate someone in loving him or her self when you don´t know how to love your self?
How can you teach a child what self respect or self esteem is, if you do not know that your self?
How can you teach a child to enjoy life if most of the time you are depressed?
We need to recognize that raising a child involves love, patience, intelligence, perpetual devotion and finaly the greates love of all is to offer a child a parent that is both mentaly and financialy healthy.

September 4, 2011 - 6:28am
EmpowHER Guest

As a woman who experiences mental illness, spent her lifetime fighting reproductive rights and convinced that mental health and having children does not go together, i find this article misleading, distressing and conveying the wrong idea about motherhood.
There might be perks, but let's not sell the idea that having babies is something you can look forward to to appease someone's mental challenges.
And from growing up with a mother with mental illness, I ask, "Who thinks about the kid in all this and who's gonna pay for his/her therapy in 18-20 years???".
Maybe we should just tell them that when they have their babies, everything's gonna be alright!

May 2, 2011 - 12:20pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

To Anonymous (above)
I coulnd't help but respond to your response, it moved me which doesn't happen too often..
I too grew up with a mother with severe mental illness and have south professional christian therapy over some years (as I am christian whose far from perfect), but now 36 and find out I am pregnant and looking at doing this as single parent cos father and I are not ready for anything more..its scary but..I do believe that children or having a child may help mental health, really depends on your attitude, view, mines positive..not saying its an easy road or been one..but my belief in God certainly has helped my life also..

hope you read this to find it encouraging if not just throw it away..

take care.

May 12, 2011 - 4:22am

I thought I already commented - sorry!! EXCELLENT article. You're soooo good Rhey - again very informative. Thanks!!

May 1, 2011 - 9:42am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.