Pregnancy is a propitious time in a woman’s life. The thought of a life growing inside you is enough to fill you with joy. But this is not the case for every expectant mother. Some women go through a rough phase during their pregnancy in which they experience a bunch of negative emotions that goes beyond mere mood swings. This phase is called antepartum depression or prenatal depression, a form of clinical depression and up to 20% pregnant women experience it.
While their body is going through a set of completely unfamiliar transformations including growing tummy and disrupted sleeping patterns and changes in metabolism, unexplained emotions and mood swings are not an abnormal experience for expectant mothers. Pregnant women often have random emotions as the shift in hormone levels has a significant impact on neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals that regulate mood.
Some women may feel depressed or anxious due to high expectations or fatigue and this phase will pass like other mood swings. However, if this persists longer than two weeks, the chances of clinical depression needs to be addressed. People often confuse antepartum depression with mood swings and dismiss it.
A clinically depressed expectant mother will experience persistent sadness, difficulty in concentrating, indifference in activities that she enjoyed before, recurrent thoughts of death, suicide, or hopelessness, and feelings of guilt or worthlessness. Such symptoms along with disrupted sleeping patterns and eating habits is a clear indication of prenatal depression.
What leads to antepartum depression?
Women with a history of stressful life events, unhealthy relationships, complications in pregnancy, previous pregnancy loss, infertility treatments, and abuse or trauma will be more prone to depression than others. While conflicts regarding body image can contribute to the feeling of worthlessness, being a single parent and unsteady income increases anxiety and insecurities.
Does it harm the baby?
Untreated Depression has the potential to harm both the mother and baby. Babies born to depressed mothers are likely to be less active and more irritable. The baby is at risk of premature birth, being born underweight, developmental defects, malnutrition and poor health.
A woman who is depressed often does not have the ability to care for herself or her baby and may develop harmful habits such as smoking and alcoholism. In extreme cases, the mother might develop suicidal tendencies as well.
Beating depression the natural way
There are a lot of debates going on regarding treating antepartum depression with antidepressants. With rumours of the foetus of mothers taking antidepressants facing with developmental disorders, a lot of couples choose natural therapies. Support groups, counselling and psychotherapy are few of the commonly used approaches.
A healthy workout routine with meditation will help to calm your nerves. It is important not to exhaust yourself as the body needs plenty of energy during pregnancy. An efficient sleeping pattern that provides adequate rest to body and mind alike will help you cope with anxiety and stress.
A healthy body can always support one’s mental health. A diet low in caffeine, sugar and processed foods will help with getting more sleep and soothing your body. Including foods high in vitamin and nutrition can improve one’s health, thus, improving mental health.
Apart from a healthy lifestyle, an expectant mother need the love and care of her dear ones. Talking to friends and family about emotions and being involved in activities will help her overcome this phase.
Not being able to make the best of the wonderful experience of pregnancy should not be ignored. Especially, when it has serious repercussions on the life of both mother and child. With love and consistent care from the family and friends, one can overcome this unfortunate phase and give birth to a healthy child.