A lot of people are unaware that depression or anxiety can strike during pregnancy. Indeed, most of the focus seems to be on the mental health of mothers after they have had their baby, more commonly known as post natal or post partum depression.
It’s a tricky one, as well meaning family and friends may tell you that ‘it’s normal’ to worry about the birth, and how a lot of how you are feeling is related to changes in your hormones. Despite this, the person may find themselves worrying about how they will cope being a mum, or a mum to more than one child, and they find that that these worries disrupt their sleep.
Often other life worries such as finances, family issues, relationship problems can be present too, with the result that the person begins to feel overwhelmed.
Often described as “prenatal” or “antenatal” depression”, it is sadly a secret that the mum to be often carries around on her own, as it doesn’t really fit in with the typical joy and delight reactions that most people greet the news of pregnancy with.
This can lead to the person internalising their fears and worries, feelings of shame, that they are not normal, even that they will be judged for being “non maternal”, or should be grateful that they have been able to fall pregnant in the first place. As a result, the person can feel isolated and cut off from their pregnancy experience, particularly if the pregnancy is a difficult one.
Talking to someone about how you are feeling can help. Whether it is trusted friend or family member, or a counsellor. Just verbalising what you are feeling, will lessen the impact and the power of the negative thoughts you are having.
Sometimes it’s a simple case of learning some coping skills, or some techniques to challenge negative thinking patterns. Some clients have had depression or anxiety in the past and have some unresolved issues that need to be addressed, or the pregnancy itself may have triggered them.
Other people find the whole aspect of pregnancy frightening, as it doesn’t feel like there is much control or that you have much say in what is happening to your body.
Don’t struggle alone, what you are feeling makes you human and help is available.