Mind and Emotional Well-Being
Ten top tips to relax in pregnancy
- Take time out for yourself every day
- Talk to someone you trust
- Stay active every day.
- Rest when you need to.
- Ask for practical help from family or friends.
- Be realistic about how much you can do. (whether at work, at home, or in your social life)
- Eat well.
- Be informed.
- Meet other pregnant women or new parents at local groups or on online forums.
- Don’t believe the hype.
Feeling emotional during pregnancy is common because of hormonal changes. So, it’s natural to feel more stressed or anxious than usual. As expectant mums, your emotional wellbeing can easily be overlooked with all the focus being on your growing baby.
Being a mum can be a lonely business so getting to know other parents can be a lifesaver. You can share the woes of parenthood and laugh at the not-so-funny aspects of being a mum, or being pregnant. Find out about antenatal classes near you. You might meet mums expecting babies at a similar time. Don’t forget your midwife is also there for you if you need to talk.
Many mums find meditation and breathing techniques help them relax in pregnancy and manage pain in labour. Get some help if you’re struggling to cope emotionally, or physically, with your pregnancy. Whether it’s help with housework, or shopping, or childcare. Try not to exhaust yourself.
Sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone that doesn’t know you. Counselling can provide a safe space to voice all your worries and try to make sense of or control any negative thoughts. You may be able to refer your yourself to a local NHS counselling service or you could ask your GP for a referral. You could also pay for private counselling.
What are perinatal mental health problems?
A ‘perinatal’ mental health problem is one that you experience any time from becoming pregnant up to a year after you give birth.
Having a baby is a big life event. It’s natural to experience a range of emotions during pregnancy and after giving birth. But if any difficult feelings start to have a big effect on your day-to-day life, you might be experiencing a perinatal mental health problem.
What is perinatal depression?
If you experience depression while you are pregnant or after giving birth, this may be known as:
- Antenatal depression – while you are pregnant.
- Postnatal depression (PND) – during roughly the first year after giving birth.
- Perinatal depression – any time from becoming pregnant to around one year after giving birth.
Lots of people are aware of postnatal depression. But it is less known that many people experience antenatal depression, and some people may experience both. There are various treatments that you may be offered for perinatal depression. Your doctor should discuss these options with you, so you can decide together about the best treatment for you.
Experiencing perinatal depression can be very difficult, but these are some steps you can take that might help:
- Be kind to yourself – You might have many expectations for yourself as a parent, but none of us can meet all our expectations all the time. Don’t beat yourself up. Try to treat yourself as you would treat a friend and be kind to yourself.
- Keep a mood diary – This can help you keep track of any changes in your mood, and you might find that you have more good days than you think. This can also help you notice if any activities, places, or people make you feel better or worse.
- Look after your hygiene – When you’re experiencing depression, it’s easy for hygiene to not feel like a priority. But small things can make a big difference to how you feel. For example, you could take a shower and get dressed, even if you’re not going out of the house.
- Speak to people with similar experiences – Often we can feel that we are the only ones feeling how we do. There are peer support and advice groups available to share thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
- Ask for help – Where possible, ask for and accept help from those around you. Practical and emotional support from family, friends and community can be vital in helping you to cope.
What is postpartum psychosis?
Postpartum psychosis is a serious but rare mental health problem which develops after you give birth. It is sometimes called puerperal psychosis.
Postpartum psychosis can be an overwhelming and frightening experience, and it is important to seek help as soon as possible if you experience symptoms. But with the right support, most people fully recover. The symptoms of postpartum psychosis usually start quite suddenly, within a few weeks after you give birth. ‘Postpartum’ means after childbirth.
If you are experiencing postpartum psychosis, the most important thing to do is get help. Speak to a health professional if you feel able, such as your doctor or a psychiatrist.
If you don’t feel able to speak to a health professional, you could talk to someone who you trust about how you’re feeling and ask for their support in getting help.
Once you’re receiving professional help, there are things you can also do to look after yourself while you recover:
- Join a peer support group – You might feel really alone or as if nobody understands, but talking to other people can help. Peer support is a way to share your feelings and experiences with other people who’ve had similar experiences.
- Recognise your triggers – Try keeping a diary of your moods and what’s going on in your life. This might help you recognise patterns or notice what affects your mental health. It can also help you become aware of the sort of experiences or feelings that might make you feel worse.
- Contact specialist organisations
Planning another pregnancy?
If you have experienced postpartum psychosis before, you may worry about becoming pregnant again.
Experiencing postpartum psychosis does mean you are more likely to develop it again with future pregnancies. But with the right support, you can plan in case it does happen again.
So, if you want to have another baby, or if you find out that you’re pregnant, you should talk to your doctor and make a plan as soon as possible.
Your doctor can also refer you to a perinatal psychiatrist. This is a specialist doctor who can support you if you are pregnant or recently gave birth and have experience of mental health problems.
House of Light
Support for Women and their families suffering from Post Natal Depression. The Helpline provides information, advice and support.
Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP)
Information and support for anyone affected by postpartum psychosis.
The Association for Post Natal Illness