Mental Health During Pregnancy
What is normal?
It is normal to feel extra emotional during pregnancy, and have feelings of worry as you approach a very significant change to your life. It is also quite understandable to have some concerns about giving birth, the health of your baby, and how your life will be different than before. Your hormones, body, and life circumstances are changing rapidly, and it is normal to experience increased stress as you adjust.
What is not normal?
While some degree of stress is normal as you adjust to body and life changes, if you find that negative thoughts and feelings are starting to dominate your thinking, impacting your ability to function in your daily life, this could be a sign that you are experiencing a mental health condition.
If you have lost interest or enjoyment in things that you once enjoyed or find yourself worrying over things to the point that your life is being affected, this could be a sign of antenatal depression or anxiety.
New research shows that one in four women struggles with some sort of mental health problem while they're expecting. (British Journal of Psychiatry)
What should I do if I feel anxious or depressed?
If you feel anxious or depressed, talk to your doctor and get help right away. Share with your doctor any mental health issues you've had in the past. It's best for your doctor to know your full medical history, in case anything comes up during or after your pregnancy.
You and your doctor will discuss treatment, weighing the risks and benefits of treating or not treating your illness, as well as the risks to your developing baby. The decision on how to support you and keep you and your baby healthy will be made between you and your doctor.
What can I do right now to improve my mental health?
Pregnant women may want to try the following stress-relieving practices:
- Try meditation, modified yoga, or gentle stretching.
- Avoid social media entirely, or limit it to specific times of day. Avoid screens before bedtime.
- Take antenatal classes to connect with other pregnant women.
- Go to bed at a consistent time each night.
- Consider counseling. Therapy can be helpful to everyone.
- Eat healthy foods that nourish your body.
- Focus on important relationships in your life. Connect with friends and family.
- Ask for specific help. Your partner, friends, or family can take on a larger role than normal to ease some stress.
- Take a walk and move your body each day. Gentle exercise is good for your physical and mental health.
The ultimate goal of pregnancy is both a healthy baby and a healthy mother, so make sure to prioritize your mental health during this immense life change.