Commentary

Call It Postpartum Or 'Mom Puberty," Campaigns Address New Moms' Mental Health


Actress Stephanie Beatriz in a spot titled “Is Mommy Okay?”

Timed to both this past weekend’s Mother’s Day and the ongoing Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, two very different marketers have launched two very different campaigns with one goal in common: get people talking about the ups and downs women go through after having children.

For Listen B*tch, a seller of affirmation cards and daily journals, four relatively unknown influencers appear in candid photos on billboards and online, tell their ”mom puberty” stories and offer advice to other moms.

For Natural Cycles, (which calls itself the only FDA-approved birth control app) five perhaps-better-known celebrities reveal their postpartum journeys in YouTube videos titled “Is Mommy Okay?”

“On some days the anxiety was debilitating,” says actress Stephanie Beatriz (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), for example.

“You will never be who you once were, in all the best ways and all the most painful,” saysactress/singer Ashley Tisdale.

And, from Elaine Welteroth, author and former editor in chief of Teen Vogue: “We only learn about what the family needs, but what about what the mom needs, and what about what the whole family needs during that wild transition?”

“Why don’t we talk about this?” asks a video featuring all five celebs (also including actress/singer a actress and Grammy-nominated singer Halle Bailey, and plus-size model Tess Holliday.

The videos, from the Good Creative Agency, are co-presented by Natural Cycles and Postpartum Support International (PSI). Each ends with a callout to URL naturalcycles.com/postpartum, where you’ll learn that the app has launched a new mode called NC Postpartum that’s “specifically tailored to help guide new moms recovering physically and mentally from childbirth.” The app provides access to such PSI resources as the nonprofit’s mental health hotline.

While the word “postpartum” needs to be attached to symptom-specific words like “depression,” Listen B*itch points to another word, “matresence,” that conveys “the multifaceted process of becoming a mother, which includes physical, hormonal, psychological, emotional, and social transformations.”

But “Matresence’ doesn’t quite roll off the tongue -- and it’s really hard to spell,”  Listen B*tch co-founders Daniela Angelucci-Rizzi and Michelle Osei-Bonsu tell Pharma and Health Insider in an e-mail interview.

So the three-year-old company coined its own term, “mom puberty,” to describe the physical, psychological, and emotional transformation that comes with motherhood.

“It’s a simple and easier way to talk about this transformative period of time,” the partners say.

“This is Mom Puberty. Forget Bouncing Back,” declare billboards up this month in six locations around Listen B*tch’s home city of Toronto. The firm’s products, though, are available in both Canada and the U.S. via D2C as well as in a network of health and wellness physical stores.

The “mom puberty” push is a deliberate challenge to what Angelucci-Rizzi and Osei-Bonsu call the “bounce back” culture pressuring new moms.

Not mothers themselves, the partners were doing research in preparation for this year’s launch of two new card decks– one for pregnant women and one for new moms – when they realized that “one of the most eye-opening – and frankly disturbing – things we heard time and time again was the “toxic and damaging messaging women were receiving postpartum…These moms were getting bombarded with questions like, ‘When are you returning to work?’ or ‘When are you going to be hitting the gym again?’”

Returning to one’s “previous body and behaviors” is dangerous, the pair continue. Mentally, for example “the ask to 'snap back' to your former self and resume all of your previous roles completely ignores the fact that women are possibly coping with mental health challenges like postnatal depression or birth-related PTSD.”

The “Mom Puberty” campaign includes several organic components in addition to the paid billboards.

The brand, for instance, has donated copies of both new card decks to support groups at two Toronto hospitals, an online gallery provides personal narratives of the four featured moms. Listen B*tch has also had an exhibit at Toronto’s Cry Baby Gallery.

For the campaign’s candid photos, Listen B*tch partnered with noted photographer Jorian Charlton, but the campaign itself was created in-house.

One aim of Listen B*tch is to get people talking, say Angelucci-Rizzi and Osei-Bonsu.

“We hope this is just the beginning of the conversation,” they explain, “and that mom puberty becomes a regular part of the vernacular surrounding the transition into motherhood.

We’re on a mission to shift the narrative and replace conversations around ‘bouncing back’ with more realistic conversations about the complex changes that new moms go through.”

 

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