Expecting Mental Health: How to cope with pregnancy and mental health
Mental Health In Pregnancy: Why It's Important
You’re pregnant! As you start making decisions about pregnancy, labor, and parenting, it’s important to consider your mental health as well as your physical health. One in four women experience mental health concerns during pregnancy and the first year after giving birth, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). If you’re experiencing mental health issues during pregnancy or right after giving birth, consider these tips for expecting moms to help you feel better and be better equipped to handle the challenges of pregnancy and parenthood.
1) Talk to your doctor
Mental health during pregnancy is an important topic to discuss with your physician, says Dr. Aviva Tal, medical director of obstetrics and gynecology at Brooklyn Hospital Center. You can also call a local mental health center and see if they have a list of referrals, she suggests. Make sure you find someone who understands what it’s like to be pregnant and living with mental illness, she adds. You want someone who understands what you’re going through as well as how to treat it. You need somebody who knows about medications that are safe in pregnancy, she says. There are certain antidepressants that doctors will not prescribe because there may be some risk of birth defects or miscarriage, so you need somebody who knows which ones are safe in pregnancy.
2) Try medication or talk therapy
There are many types of mental-health medications that may help with anxiety and depression during pregnancy. If a woman is struggling with stress or anxiety, she may want to ask her doctor about antidepressants or antianxiety medication. Some studies have found that certain types of medication, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can reduce symptoms in pregnant women and their infants when used as prescribed by a doctor.
3) Find support
Mental health issues are very common in pregnancy. Make sure you and your partner find support from your OB-GYN, family, friends and healthcare providers. If you feel like you’re having a hard time managing your mental health during pregnancy, talk to your healthcare provider about treatment options.
4) Get enough sleep
Studies show that sleep is crucial to mental health during pregnancy, yet many moms-to-be are not getting enough rest. If you’re having trouble sleeping due to anxiety or other issues related to your changing body, speak with your doctor about solutions and ways to improve sleep quality. In addition, women who have a history of depression or anxiety should consider speaking with their doctor before becoming pregnant as these conditions could pose increased risks during pregnancy.
5) Meditate or pray
Meditation and prayer can help you stay in touch with your feelings, which is especially important when you’re pregnant. Forgoing anger for calm allows your body to use that energy positively—as nourishment for your baby. Studies have shown that expectant moms who meditate or pray are less likely to experience anxiety or depression than women who don’t. If you feel like you need extra support during pregnancy, consider consulting a professional therapist.
6) Take care of yourself in other ways
Just because you have a new life growing inside of you doesn’t mean that your body is automatically healthy. You still need to eat well, exercise regularly and sleep soundly in order to maintain optimal physical and mental health. Take care of yourself now so that you can take care of both your baby and yourself after delivery. If you are experiencing any negative thoughts or feelings about your pregnancy, seek help from a professional counselor or therapist who specializes in women’s issues during pregnancy. It is also important to talk with your doctor about how best to manage stress during pregnancy; some women find that yoga or meditation helps them relax and cope with stressors more effectively than others do.