Pregnancy is an incredible journey that brings joy, and anticipation, but significant changes to a woman’s life. In the midst of the physical changes, it is crucial not to neglect mental well-being for the sake of the overall health of the mother and the baby. Ignoring your mental health can lead to several problems and even impact your bonding with your child. Plus, conditions like postpartum depression and anxiety can negatively affect breastfeeding and your overall maternal well-being.
Prioritizing postpartum mental health ensures a nurturing environment for the baby’s development and allows the mother to navigate the challenges of motherhood with resilience and joy. By taking care of their mental health, mothers can thrive and create a positive foundation for the well-being of their entire family.
Mental health problems are common in pregnant women
Since pregnancy is a period of transition and uncertainty, you need to be on the lookout for these mental health disorders. Dr Payal Narang, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital Lullanagar, Pune says one in every five women suffer from prenatal anxiety and despair. Several studies have found that the chances of certain mental health disorders increase after pregnancy.
Pregnancy provides a variety of emotions, not all of which are positive. If you might experience feelings of concern or worry, especially during a woman’s first or unexpected pregnancy. Some women also suffer from sadness or anxiety after giving birth. In fact, a study published by StatPearls states 1 in every 7 women can develop postpartum depression (PPD). While PPD lasts longer and significantly impairs women’s capacity to return to normal function. It tends to last shorter for women who have baby blues. It even impacts the relationship a mother shares with her child.
Common postpartum mental health issues
There are several feelings that you may experience after you have given birth. Here are some of the common mental health issues, as per Dr Narang.
1. Mood swings
Mood swings are pretty common throughout pregnancy. However, if you are constantly nervous or depressed, it could be a sign of something more serious. Stress, changes in your body, and several other factors can take a toll on your mental health and trigger mood swings.
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Depression is characterized as experiencing feelings of sorrow, irritability, and sadness for weeks or months at a time. Someone may be depressed prior to becoming pregnant. It can also begin during pregnancy. In fact, a woman can develop depression if she was feeling unhappy about being pregnant or is under a lot of stress at work or at home, adds the expert.
Anxiety is your body’s response to stress. It is a state of fear you feel before something happens. Since pregnancy is a time when these feelings can easily creep their way into your mind, it is crucial to keep track of your feelings. Women who worry a lot are at a higher risk of developing anxiety. You could be concerned that you won’t be a good parent or that you won’t be able to afford to raise a child, or some other concern can trigger anxiety.
4. Other mental health issues
While these are common mental health issues, they can also suffer from certain other mental health issues, including :
1. Bipolar disorder: One may experience extreme mood swings, which include periods of elevated mood (mania) and periods of depression.
2. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder): A mental health condition that occurs after experiencing or witnessing something traumatic.
3. Panic attacks: These are unexpected, acute bodily responses accompanied by paralysing terror.
4. OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder): Repetitive thoughts and behaviours that alleviate anxiety or distress.
5. Eating disorders: Unhealthy attitude towards food, weight, and body image, often leads to severe disturbances in eating patterns, which can lead to harmful consequences. Bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa are two of the most common eating disorders.
A woman who experiences postpartum mental health issues during or after pregnancy needs extra attention. In case you notice someone sad, worried, or suffering from some other mental health issue, seek immediate medical attention. Talk to your doctor if you have a mental health problem so you can get the support you need during and after your pregnancy. Take care of yourself as much as you can for your own and your baby’s sake. Eat healthy, exercise regularly, get adequate sleep, and take your prenatal vitamins. If you’re worried, sad, or nervous, talk to someone about it and know when to seek assistance.