Beat the pregnancy blues

Anxious or depressed? Don’t worry – you’re not the first pregnant woman to feel down in the dumps – acknowledging it is half the battle…

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Why do I feel this way?

While other people may expect you to be happy all the time, they may not realise that pregnant women have mood swings and bad days just like any other person. Rapid changes in and outside your body, increased responsibilities, anxiety about the future, feeling unprepared and not getting the extra two hours of sleep pregnant women need are some reasons for your vulnerability to changing emotions. In fact, a study published by the British Medical Journal concluded that women in Avon were more depressed during pregnancy than after.

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How does it affect the baby?

Although negative emotions will not harm your baby, she can sense when you’re feeling anxious or happy, and reacts accordingly, so you will both feel better when you are more at ease.

What can I do?

Seek support and speak out

If you want effective support, you must acknowledge your feelings (however negative they may be) and explain them to friends and family, as well as midwife or doctor. If you feel isolated, join a parent group or approach other women in your antenatal class. Counselling can also help with depression.

Alleviate your fears

If you’re unsure of what a contraction feels like or what to do when you waters break, do some research by talking to friends or by asking your doctor or midwife. Better yet, read books with your partner, friend or relative – someone who is willing to learn with you and support you.

If you’re afraid that you won’t be able to take care of the baby, spend time with a friend’s baby and practise changing nappies to gain confidence in your abilities.

Join an antenatal class to learn more about the changes taking place and to meet other mothers who can relate to your anxieties and offer you encouragement.

Find out what you can and can’t control, such as birth abnormalities, and accept what is beyond your control.

Live one day at a time

When you accomplish smaller, manageable goals that you set at the beginning of the day, you will feel more certain about your abilities. Suggestions for simple goals to set include taking time out of the house or spending time with a friend.

Think about your pregnancy

Contemplate both joys and realities of your new role and plan how you will accommodate your baby. Write down how you’re feeling in a journal, where you can express feelings that you don’t want to share with others. The journal can also be a record of this special time of your life, give you greater insight into how you’re feeling, and is something you can share with your child when she is older.

Talk to your partner

Plan out finances and housing situations as early as possible, but also set aside time to enjoy each other’s company and to relax. Talk about how you’re both feeling so you can support each other better.

Take care of yourself

Eat well, stay healthy and get lots of rest, since you will feel low if you’re tired (pregnant or not). Getting adequate sleep will give you more energy and can help relieve stress and tension. Don’t let the pregnancy keep you from doing things you enjoy.

Be honest with how you’re feeling

If you feel overwhelmed or tired, don’t be afraid to cancel an engagement, or if someone’s criticism is hurting you, explain this to them. Accept that you will have to work with a new (probably slower) pace at work. Don’t forget to take more breaks during the day.

Remember to treat yourself

Buy new outfits that flatter your new shape and treat yourself to a massage that enhances your well being, releases tension and relieves pains and aches. See your new changing body shape as a declaration of life. Take regular walks or go for a quiet swim and practice relaxation techniques regularly. Treat yourself to a relaxing bath. Try antenatal yoga classes to help you relax.

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Reasons for these emotions:

  • Hormonal change – can cause tiredness and nausea, which can make you upset or angry
  • Health problems, which often has a negative effect on your mood
  • Problems in relationships
  • Worries about circumstance – financial problems, and housing
  • Confidence in self – feeling inadequate or incompetent, unready
  • Changes in how your body looks and feels

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