Life's pressures, or worries about the future, on top of coping with health issues, can sometimes feel overwhelming.
More than 1 in 10 women suffer from mental health issues in pregnancy and in parenthood. Your mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical health and shouldn't be ignored.
How to promote emotional well being
- Eat a healthy balanced diet and drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids.
- Exercise each day to release endorphins which can help to lift your mood.
- Spend some time each day doing something you enjoy, maybe a relaxing bath or reading a book.
- Stop smoking.
- Avoid alcohol as it is harmful to your baby and can also lower your mood.
- Try to attend groups/antenatal classes to build yourself a support network.
- Be honest about how you are feeling - talk to your midwife or other healthcare professional or someone close to you such as your partner, friend or relative.
- Ask for help if you need it - ev eryone needs help sometimes and people who care about you will be very happy to support you.
Will I be asked about how I'm feeling?
When you have your first antenatal /booking appointment your midwife will ask you about how you are feeling, about whether you have been bothered by feeling down, hopeless or unable to enjoy things lately.
You will also be asked this question again later in your pregnancy.
The midwife will also ask if you have ever had problems with your mental health. These questions are asked of every pregnant woman and new mum, not just those who have (or have had) mental health problems.
In reality, you are quite likely to have times when you feel low during your pregnancy, just like any other 9 months of your life. As well as the normal ups and downs of life, your pregnancy will usually give you some extra reasons for many emotions - from joy to misery.
The nausea and tiredness that most women feel during the first few months can really wear you out and make you feel miserable.
You may also find that you have more mood changes, you cry more, lose your temper more, and become more forgetful.
The pregnancy hormones in your body probably contribute a lot to these feelings. Some of your emotions may also be caused by the realisation that you are going to become a mother. It can be an overwhelming thought at times.
If you start to feel quite emotional and worried, it can really help to talk with your partner or someone else that you are close to.
Sometimes, just sharing your feelings can give you a big sense of relief.
It's also very important to take good care of yourself. Try to avoid getting overtired and make sure you take regular 'time out' for yourself.
Stress is another common problem that can affect anyone.
If you are finding that you are experiencing stress causing increased irritability, affecting sleep, worrying more, increasing your anxiety, feeling you can't cope with all the demands being made on your time then please talk to your midwife, GP or Obstetric Doctor to get some help to deal with your stress.
Although some additional worries and mood-swings are perfectly normal in pregnancy, it is a different matter if you are feeling depressed a lot of the time. If you are feeling depressed, you may cry a lot, feel very confused and alone, not sleep well and be more irritable than usual.
If you are having these types of feelings, it's really important to talk with someone who can help. Try to describe your feelings to your doctor or midwife and explain that you believe your problem is more than a touch of the 'pregnancy blues'. They may be able to help you talk through your feelings, or refer you to a counsellor, mental health nurse, psychologist or a psychiatrist who can give you more specialised help.
Caring for a baby is a constant and demanding job that will involve a variety of emotional and physical changes for both you and your partner. It is important to remember that learning how to be a parent takes time and patience.
Anxiety can affect people in different ways and sometimes prevent them from doing ordinary things everyday things. We all have anxiety where we worry more, feel our heart is racing, possibly feeling dizzy or nauseous and this is normal when taking an exam or having an interview etc.
If these symptoms stop you doing things however, then you need to speak to your midwife, GP or obstetrician to get some help to deal with your anxiety.
Talking Therapies offer a range of services either in groups or face to face. The service is aimed at people with the following conditions:
- Depression including antenatal and postnatal depression
- PTSD including Birth Trauma
You can self-refer into the service or if you struggle with this speak to your midwife who can complete a referral for you.
A 1:1 buddy support service covering Bath and North East Somerset
Phone: 0117 922 0746
Dads in Mind
A support group for Dad's with mental ill health or supporting a partner with mental health and living in Bath
Phone: 07710 050 400
A mental health charity offering support and advice
Best use of medicine in pregnancy - advice regarding medications
Family Planning Association
Information, advice and support about sexual health, contraception and pregnancy. Confidential helpline.
Phone: 0845 122 8690
Funds research into pregnancy problems and provides information to parents.
Phone: 0800 0147 800
Information and support for people with Bipolar Disorder.
Including an information leaflet about Bipolar Disorder, pregnancy and childbirth.
Information and support for women with OCD, including support group and skype support.
Action on Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum Psychosis information, advice, research and support. On-line forum and peer support network.
Phone: 020 3322 9900
Pre- and post-birth depression advice and support
Phone: 0843 2898401