Updated: Sep 19, 2022
Reviewed by Dr.Ruhi Satija [Consultant Psychiatrist | Therapist & Coach]
Pregnancy brings a mix of feelings, and not all of them are good. If you're feeling worried, let me tell you, you are not alone. Worry is common, especially during a woman's first pregnancy or an unplanned one. It can be even harder if you are dealing with anxiety or depression.
Mood swings are normal during pregnancy. But if you feel nervous or feeling low all the time, it could be a sign of something deeper going on. Stress over being pregnant, changes in your body during the pregnancy, and everyday worries can take a toll on you and your baby.
It's important to treat mental health concerns during pregnancy. Mothers who are anxious, depressed, or having other issues, might not take care of themselves, or they may use drugs and alcohol during the pregnancy. All of these things can harm a growing baby.
In this article, you can read about -
Why do you feel anxious or feeling low during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is supposed to be only about happy feelings, and happy emotions, why are we talking about anxiety or depression? Here is why - During pregnancy, changes in your hormone levels and physical changes to your body could affect your mental health.
Pregnancy is a time of change both physically and mentally. Even if this is a planned pregnancy, you or your partner might have mixed feelings. You may have times when you feel a lot of joy and excitement about meeting your baby, and times when you may also feel sad and worried.
There could be changes in the relationships between your partner, family, and friends. Pregnancy changes your priority, and not everyone around you aligns with your priorities. There could be certain friction, that needs to be addressed at some point.
A baby brings in added responsibilities like new roles, new financial needs, and new adjustments based on the role. It takes some time for your brain to settle into the new changes.
If you are a working mother, planning your maternity leave can make you feel anxious. This also depends on how supportive your team is at the office, and how supportive is your family in helping you take these decisions.
Nausea, vomiting, and tiredness can take a toll on your emotional health sometimes. Some women need some help to cope with the changes involved in the pregnancy. Your health as a whole includes both physical and emotional health together, and if any of one of them is affected, the other is affected too.
Why is mental health important?
If you are mentally healthy, you will be in the best position to manage the challenges of pregnancy and life with a new baby. It’s just as important to look after your mental health and well-being during pregnancy as your physical health.
Animal studies show that babies exposed to more stress hormones while they are in the womb are more likely to have higher anxiety levels.
There was a study in humans that showed, that babies of anxious mothers reacted with an increased heart rate when their mothers were given a stressful task.
Another early study showed less activity between the regions of the brain that control emotions in babies of expectant mothers with depression.
Other research shows that babies born to parents who were depressed while pregnant have lower birth weights.
Also, parents are not wholly responsible for the mental health of their children, a society also plays a major role in setting up expectations. And remember it takes a village to raise a child, and the village is nothing but our society!
It is not possible to change the entire society! but it is easier to change yourself, isn’t it? Let’s look at how we can do that.
What are the symptoms or warning signs to look out for -
Feeling low is okay, but how long you are in that emotion and how is it affecting your day-to-day activities is what matters. If it is affecting your daily life, then do not wait. Seek help
The first step we do when we feel sad, or anxious, is we call our friend or someone close and share. It is good to do that, but is it helping you? Are you getting better by just sharing it, how often do you want to do this? Sometimes, another perspective is needed, and your friends may not be able to do that. Seek help.
You feel fearful thinking about your baby or scared or panicking thinking about the baby.
You feel so low that you want to harm yourself, rising anger, that you are not able to control.
Crying for no reason many times. Hormonal changes sometimes can make you feel this way, then what you have to remember is the intensity and whether is it affecting your day-to-day activities and how often you do this.
What is the treatment?
Treatment can vary from person to person based on severity and criticality. You might have heard this everywhere, but this is the fact, that there is no generic treatment for all people.
You will not be prescribed medication immediately. And during pregnancy, Expert Psychiatrists take utmost care in prescribing medication as it should not affect the baby.
You will be counseled to understand your situation, and then if needed medicines are prescribed.
All you have to do is seek help. All humans need help, and we coexist because we all are dependent on another being in some way or the other.
Techniques that can help you -
There are breathing techniques that can be practiced to relax your mind and body. They are simple and easy-to-follow techniques. You can browse for some videos on them and follow the instructions. Box Breathing, 2-7-8 breathing, 3-6-5 breathing. Try them and practice whichever makes you feel better.
Grounding techniques are strategies that can help you manage your traumatic memories or strong emotions. The purpose of grounding techniques is to empower you to step away from negative thoughts or flashbacks.
Techniques such as these can decrease the intensity of one’s feelings or trauma by distracting them using the five senses and help you refocus on what is happening in the present moment.
There are three types of grounding. You may find that one of these types works better for you, or that each is helpful.
Mental techniques(focusing your mind)
Physical techniques(focusing your senses)
Soothing techniques(talking to yourself in a very kind way)
Meditation comes to play a key role when tackling any difficulties that may arise during pregnancy. It can bring relief and help you accept the various stages of your pregnancy. Enabling you to flow through this beautiful phase of your life with ease. Helping you to enjoy the reality that a new life is blossoming inside of you.
Note: Do not hold your breath at any point.
You may not see the results immediately after your first practice. Be patient, believe, and be consistent in your practice.
Start these practices when you start feeling bad, and not when you reach the threshold level.
Try all the techniques, and see what works best for you, any of them, or a combination of them. And stick to the practice until you know it well, and you can use it whenever needed.
For any kind of technique to work, be it breathing, exercise, or yoga, you need to consistently practice for it to work! This is the basic commitment needed from you.
If you are overwhelmed to follow any kind of technique, pick up your phone and contact an expert to guide you through. Everyone loves a little help!
When you are active, you feel good, and exercises can help you with that.
Also, your nutrition during pregnancy plays an important role in maintaining good health.
You can practice Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
And Mindfulness techniques.
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