Fortunately, postpartum depression has become one of the states that is freely discussed and widely recognized. However, little attention is being paid to women’s mental health during pregnancy. While mood swings and signs of depression are closely monitored after giving birth, a future mother-to-be is often faced with misunderstanding by her environment. Actually, as the survey by Baby Glimpse informs us, almost a third of pregnant women feel overwhelmed by worry during pregnancy, and almost 40% of them have suffered different emotional stressors. Since by no means should the topic be taken lightly, here are the reasons why this occurs, as well as possible solutions.
Problems prior to conception
While some moms develop an illness during pregnancy, there is also a number of those who are already suffering from a mental condition prior to becoming pregnant. In such cases, their nearest environment has to be especially careful and attentive of them. As well as that, moms carry the responsibility to take even greater care of themselves at this period. This involves informing the doctor about any changes.
Unfortunately, certain states are known to worsen during pregnancy, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar and similar mental disorders. For this reason, it’s essential that the woman’s doctor is informed about everything that is going on.
First problems during pregnancy
It is strongly advisable to monitor closely the changes in a woman’s body and mind during pregnancy. Admittedly, it is tricky since some “normal” occurrences such as lack of energy and sleep deprivation are quite ubiquitous for both the blessed state and depression. Therefore, it is extremely easy for the early symptoms to go unnoticed.
Also, bear in mind that when talking about mothers’ mental health, this does not necessarily imply only serious conditions such as depression, but whatever mental issues a future mom is battling with. For instance, these can cause great worry and anxiety, which affects both the woman and the baby:
• Fear of complications during giving birth
• Doubts about being a good enough mother
• Feeling of loneliness
• Fear of miscarriage
• Worrying whether she will be able to support the child financially, and so on.
The list can be even longer, especially when a mom-to-be is aware of some health issues concerning her or the baby,
How is the baby affected?
Those mums that already have some kind of therapy prescribed have to consult with their doctor whether they are to use the same medications now that they are with child. Sometimes, there is a need for a new prescription. In addition, in no way are you to stop taking medicine on your own without proper consultation. This could seriously backfire, so if you have your baby’s best health in mind, you always have to consult the doctor.
Regardless of the reason for stress (a mental disorder, or a feeling of anxiety in a healthy person), a baby is bound to feel it. The baby is not isolated and it experiences mother’s feelings. The problem arises when a mother is under constant stress (due to one reason or the other). Consequently, cortisol hormone is let into the bloodstream, and it can have an effect on a baby’s brain.
Should a mum feel rather depressed, the child is more likely to have a shorter attention span someday, get irritated more easily, react more slowly or have a short growth period.
What can be done?
Apart from discussing the matter with a doctor, which we have already mentioned, a women can look for support from
• A therapist or a counsellor – we all rely on and confess to our friends, but these are experts, who are supposed to deliver the solution quicker and ease some of our burden. Don’t forget that social workers and counsellors re there to give aid in case you are experiencing some financial trouble.
• Support groups – these can also be very helpful and comforting. Hearing other people’s experiences and knowing they can truly relate to you is very satisfying and soothing. Also, some religious mums find support in their faith leaders.
• Exercise – it is often recommended for mental issues, and it can be of great help during these nine months, too. Of course, you should choose those that suit you and this delicate condition the best. Some moms prefer yoga and meditation, for example.
• Partner’s support – let’s not overlook who is usually the first person a woman turns to if she notices any changes, and who is most likely to observe them first. A supportive partner is an immense help. Their understanding and patience can decrease the woman’s worries, even when we talk about cases of clinical depression.
We are all responsible for our own mental health no matter what obstacles are in our way. However, when a woman is expecting (or planning to), one more life is in question, so the responsibility is much greater. It’s essential that women pay more attention to the changes it their behaviour during pregnancy, as well as for their environment to recognise any warning signs, in order to be happy and in good health, and to give birth to a happy and healthy baby, too.