Pregnancy brings a new meaning to the concept of beauty. It is a period of immense joy coupled with excitement. The feeling of carrying a little soul within you is magnificent. Pregnancy can mean the beginning of a new stage in a woman’s life, with all the changes that new stage can bring. People talk about obvious ones – cravings, fatigue, nausea, body shape – but there are also situations like negotiating new working arrangements and reworking your finances that can make this a difficult time. The experience of pregnancy and childbirth is often followed by sadness, fear, anxiety, and difficulty making decisions for many mothers. Many women have difficulty finding the energy to care for themselves, their infants, and their families. Some even have feelings about harming themselves and their children. These may be symptoms of depression. Although many people consider pregnancy a time of happiness, about 10% to 20% of moms-to-be struggle with symptoms of depression.
It’s estimated that about 1 in 7 pregnant women is depressed. The depression is a whole-body physiologic disorder that affects the pregnancy.
Risk Factors of depression during pregnancy
Screening of depression during pregnancy
Females should be screened for peri-pregnancy depression during
- Pre-conception: should be asking for personal and family history of mental health disorders and treatment
- Pregnancy: during the first routine antenatal visit
- Postpartum: during routine postnatal visits at 4-6 weeks and 3-4 months postpartum.
Preparing for being a parent
It can be helpful for both expectant mums and dads to learn about ways to help themselves and others through this time of change. Read parenting books, talk to family members and friends about their experiences as new parents and take some time to think about who might be able to provide support if you need it. It also helps to develop a network with others who are also pregnant or who have children of a similar age.
Pregnancy is a delicate time. Woman hormones are fluctuating and she might even feel a little bit crazy. She suffers a lot of emotional as well as physical distress. Support love and care from a loving partner is the best way to prevent depression during pregnancy.
- If she tells you that she wants to eat her favourite food, don’t make fun of her.
- If she feels to take a snap in the afternoon, let her to do so
- If she cries just hug her
- Make her happy with surprise gifts
- Hold her hand for an evening walk
- Even though you are busy with your work, please spend some valuable time with her because she actually needs your presence rather than anything in this world
- Plan for the future together
- Show affection, massage her back and foot which help to ease hr stress and aches as pregnancy goes on.
Role of family
Family support can serve as the foundation of security and growth for an expectant mother and baby. Experts suggest that family support has a positive impact on attitude of pregnant woman as to lower down her anxieties associated with pregnancy and provide a feeling of security for herself and her baby. Evidence proved that pregnant women who felt strong support from families and from their child’s father had fewer depressive symptoms.
Can Maternal Depression Affect an Unborn Baby?
If not treated, depression in a mom can adversely affect the baby. When the mother is under stress, cortisol is produced and can adversely affect the baby’s development.” A baby of a depressed mother can be born too small or too early, according to the study.
All children deserve the chance to have a healthy mom. And all moms deserve the chance to enjoy their life and their children. If you are feeling depressed during pregnancy or after having a baby, don't suffer alone. Please tell a loved one and call your doctor right away.
- Teixeira C, Figueiredo B, Conde A, Pacheco A, Costa R. Anxiety and depression during pregnancy in women. J Affect Disord. 2009;119:142–8.
- Murray D, Cox J. Screening for depression during pregnancy with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale