Happy Mother’s Day All AuDHD Moms!

A day for AuDHD moms to stand tall and be proud of fighting for their child’s best!

Becoming a parent was undeniably one of the most significant and defining moments in my life. From the day I became a mom 21 years ago, there has never been a doubt in my mind that this was when real life began. However, motherhood has certainly brought its share of challenges. 

I know I’m not alone in this, and that many of us neurodivergent women are especially challenged and criticized for our parental abilities. This is not just something I say. This is supported by both clinical experience and research.

Indeed, parents with ADHD often describe that they struggle more to be the parents their children need1.

And just like life, it’s never fair; because since NPF is hereditary, the risk (or chance!) that a mom with ADHD or autism will have a child with ADHD or autism is greater than for moms without a diagnosis.

Moms Do It All!

There are many wonderful fathers and men. I know this because I’m married to one. Unfortunately, according to a large European study that I and Professor Lisa Thorell at KI initiated during the pandemic. It seems more common than not, that the responsibility for the children in an NPF family is not equally shared2

Our study found that almost all the extra work-from-home schooling during school closures fell on the mothers3

And just by listening to our patient organizations. It’s clear that it doesn’t take an international pandemic or a national emergency for the lion’s share of family responsibilities for NPF children, to fall on the mothers.

From the First Cell, It’s All About the Mom!

Nature has arranged it so that we women are the ones who reap the fruits of love (or lust). This can be both an existential luxury (poor guys who never get to experience the incredible power of carrying and giving birth to a child). 

And an evolutionary misfortune (it’s tough to run away from a tiger on the savannah when you’ve gained 60 pounds and are hobbling around with pelvic pain during your second twin pregnancy). 

That’s why I take our research on ADHD in girls and young women so seriously. Even though we don’t live in the savannah today, an unplanned pregnancy can create a psychosocial uphill battle for the rest of one’s life. 

Our research shows that young women with ADHD are six times more likely to become mothers while they are still children themselves.4

And if there’s anything that signifies a developed and thriving society. It’s the proportion of young women who get educated and can live an equal life.

Mom’s Job Is Not Over After Birth!

Pregnancy and the infant months are a hormonal drama in several acts. 

Pregnancy involves rising and, towards the end, sky-high levels of estrogen and progesterone. Some women feel great, others feel terrible. We don’t know why or who will feel which way. 

However, our research and others show that women with ADHD have more risk factors during their pregnancies. 

And are also more likely to give birth prematurely compared to women without ADHD5

Then, during birth, not only does the baby come out, but also the placenta. The one that has been responsible for all hormone production during pregnancy. Now, another hormone takes the lead: prolactin, which is responsible for milk production for breastfeeding. 

We have also shown that mothers with ADHD are at higher risk of experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety throughout the first year with the baby6

Since the initial period with a newborn is stressful and filled with uncertainty, regardless of whether one has ADHD or not. It can be very difficult for both the mother and those around her to recognize the signs of depression. Something that risks harming both the attachment to the newborn and the well-being of the new mother and the entire family. 

Despite the availability of effective help for postpartum depression, many struggle alone with their “forbidden feelings” without seeking help.

That’s exactly how MrsHyper so vividly describes her experience in her latest blog post blog post [In Swedish]

Combat the Stigma of Being an NPF Mom!

Even though discussions about mental health are more open today than ever before. Many of us women with ADHD and autism still struggle with the shame and fear of being judged because of our difficulties, challenges or diagnoses. 

Here, we can all work to change the landscape for the support and understanding that NPF moms need to cope. 

And if you ever doubt yourself as a parent. Remember that it’s always better to have a mom with an ADHD or autism diagnosis. Than a mom with ADHD or autism who doesn’t understand her challenges. 

Knowledge is power! Power to take your and your child’s life into your own hands and find ways forward that work for your family. Refuse to be a passive victim stuck in healthcare queues or endless school meetings if there’s no reasonable chance of it leading to something constructive. Try to find your own paths around challenges and norms that don’t fit you and your child. 

And take care of yourself. As an NPF parent, you need to be strong for both yourself and your child.

If I Could Live My Life Over

If I became a parent today, knowing all the things I’ve learned from my work and research, I would do some things differently in my parenting. 

So make sure to:

  • Treat yourself thoroughly whenever you get the chance. Truly think about what is genuinely important to you and do more of that. Engage in activities that replenish your energy reserves and protect your own sources of renewal just as you defend your children’s needs and rights.
  • Never compromise on your routines for sleep, food, and exercise. But also, don’t forget to nurture the passions that ignite your spirit. And the NPF aspects of yourself that need to be “unconventional.”
  • Keep track of how your hormones affect you during different life phases. To avoid the worst feelings of losing control when things get most turbulent.
  • Talk about how your brain works and try to see your strengths and vulnerabilities in a sober and nuanced way. Never think that it is someone else’s responsibility to be interested in or adapt their life to your ADHD. Do what you can to ensure your children do not have to manage your difficulties and challenges.
  • Take one day at a time. Remind your poor metacognitive abilities that the only thing you know for sure is that what you feel right now cannot last forever.

You’ll find these (and even more thorough tips) in MindHub in the Letterlife-app.

So today, I want to cheer for all the incredibly strong NPF moms out there!

Whether you have a diagnosis yourself or support a child with ADHD or autism, I believe you deserve to feel proud today.

And there’s research to back it up, so stand tall and feel confident that in relationships, we get as many tries as we need. 

As long as the heart is in the right place!
❤️


  1. Park JL, Hudec KL, Johnston C. Parental ADHD symptoms and parenting behaviors: A meta-analytic review. Clin Psychol Rev. 2017 Aug;56:25-39. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2017.05.003. Epub 2017 May 29. PMID: 28601690. ↩︎
  2. Thapar A, Cooper M, Eyre O, Langley K. What have we learnt about the causes of ADHD? J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2013 Jan;54(1):3-16. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2012.02611.x. Epub 2012 Sep 11. PMID: 22963644; PMCID: PMC3572580. ↩︎
  3. Thapar A, Cooper M, Eyre O, Langley K. What have we learnt about the causes of ADHD? J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2013 Jan;54(1):3-16. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2012.02611.x. Epub 2012 Sep 11. PMID: 22963644; PMCID: PMC3572580.Cooper M, Eyre O, Langley K. What have we learnt about the causes of ADHD? J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2013 Jan;54(1):3-16. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2012.02611.x. Epub 2012 Sep 11. PMID: 22963644; PMCID: PMC3572580. ↩︎
  4. Skoglund C, Kopp Kallner H, Skalkidou A, Wikström AK, Lundin C, Hesselman S, Wikman A, Sundström Poromaa I. Association of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder With Teenage Birth Among Women and Girls in Sweden. JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Oct 2;2(10):e1912463. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.12463. PMID: 31577361; PMCID: PMC6777395. ↩︎
  5. Hesselman S, Wikman A, Skoglund C, Kopp Kallner H, Skalkidou A, Sundström-Poromaa I, Wikström AK. Association of maternal attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and preterm birth: a cohort study. BJOG. 2020 Nov;127(12):1480-1487. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.16310. Epub 2020 Jul 21. PMID: 32384173.6Andersson A, Garcia-Argibay M, Viktorin A, Ghirardi L, Butwicka A, Skoglund C, Bang Madsen K, D’onofrio BM, Lichtenstein P, Tuvblad C, Larsson H. Depression and anxiety disorders during the postpartum period in women diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. J Affect Disord. 2023 Mar 15;325:817-823. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2023.01.069. Epub 2023 Jan 18. PMID: 36681302. ↩︎
  6. Andersson A, Garcia-Argibay M, Viktorin A, Ghirardi L, Butwicka A, Skoglund C, Bang Madsen K, D’onofrio BM, Lichtenstein P, Tuvblad C, Larsson H. Depression and anxiety disorders during the postpartum period in women diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. J Affect Disord. 2023 Mar 15;325:817-823. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2023.01.069. Epub 2023 Jan 18. PMID: 36681302. ↩︎
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