Many people are aware of postpartum depression that occurs after a woman gives birth, but few know that antenatal depression is also common.
Traditionally, friends, family, colleagues and all those who have been pregnant before are telling the mom-to-be that she should be cheerful, happy and joyful about being pregnant.
However, pregnancy is a major life-changing event that can be overwhelming.
Also, a pregnant woman may all of a sudden have lots a doubt about herself, her changing body and concerns about what is in store for her in the future. She may feel anxious about having to soon raise a baby and may feel inadequate and unsure she is prepared for the task.
She may also feel some resentment towards her mate because he is not undergoing the same stresses and physical changes and she may think he does not empathize with her discomfort and daily emotional and physical struggles.
As baby grows, she may find it hard to sleep, which in turn could ruin her daytime hours, make her cranky and moody, which combined with all the hormonal changes can also trigger depression.
UK charity group National Childbirth Association offers the following advice for women who may be experiencing depression while pregnant:
- Don’t try to be ‘superwoman’. Try to do less and make sure that you don’t get over-tired.
- Do make friends with other women who are pregnant or have just had a
baby. It may be more difficult to make new friends if you get post natal depression later.
- Do find someone you can talk to. .
- Do go to prenatal childbirth classes. If you have a partner, take them with you. If not, take a friend or relative.
- Don’t stop antidepressant medication during pregnancy without
medical advice. Around seven in 10 women who stop antidepressants in
pregnancy relapse if they stop the medication. You need to discuss the
risks and benefits of continuing treatment in pregnancy and while
breastfeeding (see section below).
- Do keep in touch with your OB and your health visitor if you have
had depression before. Any signs of depression in pregnancy or PND can
be recognized early.
- Do make sure that you have treatment for depression in pregnancy. This may be a talking therapy or medication.
- Do accept offers of help from friends and family.
Seeking assistance when you recognize you may be more down than usual while pregnant will help and could be very useful in case you eventually develop postnatal depression later.