Pregnancy is termed as one of the happiest periods of one’s lifetime but this does not hold true for everyone. It can bring a mixed bag of emotions and not all of them are good. If you are feeling lonely or overwhelmed, please do not worry because we have got your back. We understand that pregnancy can be one of the most challenging periods of your life as well.

You need to look after your mental health during pregnancy as you take care of your physical health.

So, first of all, let’s take a look at what all can happen to your mental health during pregnancy –

1) Anxiety

Anxiety is the fear of situations or things that might happen. If you fret a lot anyway, there may be many reasons that can cause emotional stress during pregnancy.

2) Depression

Depression is something that affects how you feel, act, etc. It can start before pregnancy or during pregnancy as well and can happen for a lot of reasons. The reasons can be – stress due to some office work or some personal issues as well. Some of these issues can be relationship stress during pregnancy, etc. Some research suggests that almost 7% of women suffer depression during pregnancy.

3) Bipolar Disorder

It is a mood disorder that is associated with mood swings i.e. two extremes. A person suffering from bipolar disorder will either be depressively low or manic high. Though this is less common in pregnant women there are cases of pregnant women with bipolar disorder.

These are only a few issues, other mental issues can include – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, panic attacks, etc.

 So, by all this, we can easily conclude that anxiety and stress in pregnancy are quite common.

What are the effects of mental illness on a pregnant woman and her baby?

There are some recent researches done that show that a pregnant woman’s mental health can affect her unborn baby as well. Some animal studies reveal that babies are more presumably to have an active amygdala in their brain if they are exposed to more stress hormones while in the womb. This would mean that they have elevated anxiety levels.

Other effects include – low body weights of babies, increased heart rate, etc.

Finally, the question arises as to how can you take care of your mental health during pregnancy.

Let’s talk about this in points –

1) Self Care During Pregnancy

Self-care is important during every stage of life but it becomes all the more important while pregnancy.  So, ladies, you need to take care of yourself and that too very well because if you are healthy, your baby will be healthy too. It need not be something that involves hours.  Just take some time out for yourself each day doing something that makes you happy.

Also, you need to take care of all three types of “Self – care” which are physical, emotional, and spiritual. As the name suggests, Physical self-care involves how you take care of your body, what you eat, drink, and more. Emotional self-care is all about how you express yourself, your thoughts and worries, etc. Spiritual self-care is something that focuses on how you connect to your higher self, etc.

So, there are some points by which you can take care of your well being –
a) You can go outside for a walk.
b) Take good care of your body by eating healthy food.
c) Do something that makes you happy like reading, gardening, etc.
d) Learn how to say “NO”

But whatever you do to take care of yourself, do not take Stress about “Self-care” as well.

2 ) Sleep Well and Take Rest

Take Rest During Pregnancy

It might seem difficult to you and I can completely understand why, but you need to sleep and take your well-deserved rest.  For sleep, you can take naps during the day whenever you get time. At the night, you should sleep early. Do either one of these or both of these according to your needs and whatever makes you feel comfortable.

It is important to sleep well because it affects you and your baby. The amount of sleep you get could impact your labor and delivery as well. Lack of sleep can also result in chronic diseases that include depression, obesity, heart disease, etc. Pregnant women need more amount of sleep every night so you should include sleep habits in your day-to-day life. A few of the sleep habits that you can include are:

  1. a) First of all, you should prioritize your sleep as it is healthy for your body.
  2. b) Try to go to bed and wake up from sleep at the same time every day.
  3. c) Do not keep technical gadgets in your room like TV, laptop, mobile, etc. These gadgets can be very distracting for you.

Remember that sleep is extremely essential for your body especially when you are pregnant.

3) Exercise

Pregnant Women Exercise

If you exercise while being pregnant, it has a lot of benefits for you like it will give you relief from aching back, will help you solve your constipation, and will also keep your weight healthy. But it has a lot of mental health benefits as well, exercising can help you lower your stress as well.

According to one of the studies, it is found that if a pregnant woman does physical activity, at least one time a week, it reduces depression symptoms in her. It also may be an important aspect in preventing depression in pregnant women.

Exercising can also lift your mood, help you sleep better. It also advances muscle tone, strength, and endurance. But before you go ahead with exercising, please make sure you have your Doctor’s OK for the same. There are certain cases in which doctors might advise you not to exercise. Some of those cases are:

a) If you have certain forms of heart disease or lung disease
b) If you are suffering from cervical problems

There are other instances as well, so you should first get your Doctor’s OK before going ahead with the exercises.

4) Get Yourself a Good Support Network

Good Supportive Friends Network

Do not shy from getting outside support if you feel like you are not able to cope up with pregnancy emotionally. Ask for help, it can be any help like help with household work, office work, etc.  Do not exhaust yourself.  Remember the first point that self-care is important.

Having support is important. You can get it from anyone whom you feel is very close to you and understands you. It can be anyone like your parents, siblings, friends, partner, etc. You can also get help from counseling.  You can talk about all your thoughts especially those thoughts which make you worry.

 So, talk it out. Being a mom is not easy.  So, you can emotionally connect to those who are expecting babies at the same time as you are. You can listen to them and also share your concerns, worries, and excitement with them.

Having a support system around you is going to change a lot of things for you. Like how you deal with anxiety, stress, and how you deal with days where you feel low, etc. Also, you should ask for help, from outside, whenever you need it. If there is something you need help with, whether it is physical, emotional, etc. you should ask for it.

Ladies, Remember doing research is good but try not to become a “Google Doctor”.  Becoming a “Google Doctor” will bring you anxiety, stress, etc. Also, try not to commit yourself to a stressful amount of office work, know the limits of your body and take decisions accordingly.

These are just a few ways by which you can take care of your mental health. There are other ways also by which you can take care of your mental health while being pregnant. It is your responsibility to take good care of your mental health especially while being pregnant. Have a happy and healthy pregnancy.

This article has been written by Shivali Pandit and the opinions expressed herein are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of 9HappyMonths. You can contact the author at shivalisusheela@gmail.com

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