Mental health during pregnancy
There’s no ‘normal’ way to feel while you’re pregnant. Everyone is different.
Pregnancy is often an emotional time. You may not have planned the pregnancy and you may wonder how you’ll cope, especially if you’re on your own. You may have been desperate to have a baby but now you’re actually expecting one you might feel worried, apprehensive or scared.
Even if you’re not the sort of person who cries a lot, that can change in pregnancy. Possibly the slightest thing will set you off, ranging from a sad report on the news to, believe it or not, the most ordinary scene in your TV show. Other women find they get really irritable, tense and moody – which can be difficult for those closest to them.
Then again, you might find you’re overjoyed a lot of the time and can’t help smiling, even when you’re suffering with morning sickness!
Pregnancy can be a stressful and confusing time. Talking this through with your partner, friends or family members can help you cope. If something is really bothering you, talk to your midwife or GP about it – nobody is going to think you’re wasting their time.
Depression and anxiety in pregnancy
Around one in 10 women will have mild to moderate depression during pregnancy and around one in 5 will experience significant anxiety in the perinatal period. Those who have suffered depression and anxiety before are at particular risk of experiencing it again during pregnancy.
It’s a huge thing having a baby and it will change your lives. While that is really exciting, it’s natural to feel nervous too. You may wonder what sort of parent you’ll be. What sort of parent your partner will be? Will you be able to care for your baby and keep them safe? What will you’re baby be like? You may also find memories of experiences from your own childhood arise, even though you’ve pushed them to the back of your mind for years.
You may also worry about losing your sense of who you are – of being you. While you’re getting loads of attention at this time in your life – lots of appointments, people being excited for you – you may feel that it’s the baby who’s the focus of attention, not you. Your partner may feel hurt, or left out, if he or she, thinks all you’re thinking about is the baby. You’ll both know that your life will be different after the baby is born. You’ll be responsible for someone else, and you’ll have to look after their needs. Going out will take planning – you won’t be able to do things on the spur of the moment any more.
All these worries are common and it may help to talk to others who have been through it. If you have a partner, it may be a good idea to share your feelings with your partner too. He, or she, may be feeling lots of the same things. Your midwife may be able to suggest parenting groups or you may meet people in a similar situation at antenatal classes.
Talk to your doctor or midwife if you are concerned about how you are coping with all the changes. They will be able to suggest ways you can manage these challenges or services that can help you.
Barwon Health has partnered with the Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE), Australia’s peak body for reducing the impacts of perinatal anxiety and depression, to implement an online screening program to support the mental health of new and expectant mums.
Pregnant women will be asked via text message to participate in a five-minute questionnaire about their emotional wellbeing at their first midwives clinic appointment and again at their 28 week appointment.
Last Modified: Wednesday, 07 June 2023