She may be a royal princess, but in a speech she recently gave for a U.K.-based charity event, the Duchess of Cambridge and a mother of two herself is well aware of the reality that many moms face on a daily basis especially when it comes to mental health issues.
At the launch of the Out of the Blue film series with Best Beginnings at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Duchess, Kate Middleton, spoke about motherhood as a rewarding experience. But she also emphasized the pressure that comes with it, even for women like her who has support at home.
"Nothing can really prepare you for you the sheer overwhelming experience of what it means to become a mother. It is full of complex emotions of joy, exhaustion, love, and worry, all mixed together. Your fundamental identity changes overnight," she says. "And yet there is no rule book, no right or wrong, you just have to make it up and do the very best you can to care for your family. For many mothers, myself included, this can, at times, lead to a lack of confidence and feelings of ignorance."
Kate, who leads a mental health campaign in the U.K. with her husband, Prince William and her brother-in-law, Prince Harry, explains further that these challenges are made even more difficult when a mother has to deal with her mental health issues. "Two in 10 women will suffer mental health issues that can occur during pregnancy and in the year after birth, often clouding their moments of joy with a real sense of darkness and isolation."
Many mothers go through postpartum depression and other mental health issues during and after pregnancy. But they often opt to stay silent about these issues because of fear or shame or the judgment that they couldn't cope, the royal princess adds.
"[Part] of this fear is about the pressure to be a perfect parent; [we are] pretending we're all coping perfectly and loving every minute of it," she says. "It's all right to talk about motherhood as a wonderful thing, but we also need to talk about its stresses and strains. It's okay not to find it easy. Asking for help should not be seen as a sign of weakness."
She encourages women to speak up and have the strength to seek support and advice about their mental health, like they would seek the help of a doctor when they get a fever during pregnancy.
"Conversations are crucial for mental wellbeing and they should be part of everyday family life. Talking about a problem with a friend or another trusted person can be the beginning of getting better," she says.
The public rarely gets to hear the voice of the Duchess of Cambridge. We're glad to see she has decided to use her voice to bring to light the challenges many moms face. Watch and listen to her whole speech below.