Wednesday, November 9, 2016

When Being Pregnant isn't Joyful

Pregnancy is supposed to be one of the happiest times in life. Yet for many expectant mothers, it isn't the joyful experience that it is often communicated and portrayed. There are many body and hormonal changes that can make the pregnancy experience rough, such as mood swings, nausea, swelling, fatigue, and lack of sleep. Most of these are well known, and there are ways to help.

There is one aspect of pregnancy that isn't as commonly known, and that is depression and anxiety during pregnancy. Most people are aware of the "baby blues" that many post-natal moms experience, but less well-known is that 1 in 10 pregnant women experience depression and/or anxiety during their pregnancy (Baby Center, 2016) Expectant mothers may not fully realize that their low mood isn't just due to the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy.

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Because your emotional health during pregnancy is just as important as your physical health, it's important to be aware of what feelings you are experiencing during pregnancy. Here are some risk factors associated with depression and anxiety during pregnancy:
  • History of depression or anxiety - this can be either your personal history, or a family history.
  • Relationship difficulties - having a baby doesn't make everything better, and doesn't solve relationship problems. Seek counseling to help you and your partner work things out.
  • Infertility - if you had a hard time getting pregnant, and gone through fertility procedures, fear of losing the baby or having complications during pregnancy are a reality. Add that to the stress you experienced while trying to conceive, and you are more prone to depression/anxiety.
  • Pregnancy complications - having a high risk pregnancy, or needing difficult procedures, while being afraid that you will lose the baby makes you more stressed and anxious during pregnancy.
  • Change in life events - moving, job changes, school, or financial concerns all play a role in your emotional well-being.
How do you know if you're experiencing hormone changes or depression/anxiety? Here are the symptoms of depression, listed on If you are experiencing several of these symptoms for more than two weeks, talk to your doctor:
  • A sense that nothing feels enjoyable or fun anymore
  • Feeling, blue, sad, or "empty" for most of the day, every day
  • It's harder to concentrate
  • Extreme irritability or agitation or excessive crying
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping all the time
  • Extreme or never-ending fatigue
  • A desire to eat all the time or not wanting to eat at all
  • Inappropriate guilt or feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
Symptoms of Anxiety:
  • Feeling overwhelmed and nervous every day
  • Panic attacks - can come on with no warning and include a racing heart, lightheaded or faintness, sweaty balms, breathlessness, and feeling like you're about to pass out.
  • Frequent, recurrent concerns about you or your baby's health or a frequent feeling that something terrible is about to happen.
There are safe ways to get help and treatment if you are experiencing depression and anxiety during pregnancy. Talk with your health care provider about your feelings during pregnancy, and remember that it's important to make sure you're taking care of yourself emotionally, as well as physically.

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