Your emotional health during pregnancy

Pregnancy can be an overwhelming time. One day you may be overjoyed at the thought of having a baby, and then just as quickly wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into! You may be worried about whether you’ll be a good mom and whether the baby will be healthy. You might be concerned about the cost of raising a child and how it will impact on your relationship with your partner.

Should I be feeling this?
It’s completely normal to have these thoughts as well as mood swings during pregnancy! In fact, you can blame it on the changes in your hormones that affect your levels of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain). Although there are conflicting reports on whether “pregnancy brain” even exists, studies show 80 percent of pregnant women say they become noticeably forgetful. All this emotional rollercoastering has a purpose: your brain is actually adjusting to help you be a better mom! Recent studies have shown that soon after giving birth, there are significant changes to the mother’s brain, such as increased activity in the areas of emotional regulation, decision-making, and protective instincts.

Ok, but how do I handle it?
One of the best ways to handle stress and anxiety during pregnancy is to communicate. Share your concerns with your partner, friends and family. Women who have been pregnant before often offer the most support and empathy as they understand what you are going through.

Some other ideas to help you cope with pregnancy anxiety:

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Get enough rest.
  • Make time for some gentle daily exercise like walking, swimming or yoga. Click here for a 5-minute Mediation for Pregnancy Anxiety.
  • Join a Mom’s Group or just get chatting to the other pregnant women at your clinic. Some wonderful life-long friendships have grown through these shared support systems.

Plan some ways to include your little one once they are born; if you are a jogger, find a safe route where you can run with your baby in the pram. If you love music, make a soothing playlist of favourite songs that you can listen to while rocking or feeding your baby. These preparations can give you a better sense of control over the unknown months ahead.

And if it gets worse?
Although pregnancy is often an amazing, happy time, it’s also natural to have some worries about the big changes that lie ahead. If your anxiety is becoming all-consuming and regularly interferes with your day-to-day functioning, ask your healthcare provider to refer you to a therapist. They can better assess how strong your anxiety has become and what you may need to do to feel better. Getting help during pregnancy will protect you and your baby from unnecessary risks and reduce your chances of postpartum anxiety and depression.