We need to talk about Mental Health in pregnancy

As soon as you become pregnant there is a flurry of questions that dominate you. How much weight you’ve put on, the size of the baby, the gender, the size, the list goes on. But there is one thing that is never talked about due to the large stigma that is attached to it, antenatal depression.

Antenatal depression is going undiagnosed, despite 1 in 10 pregnant women being affected. According to a study published in The Lancet, 10-15% of all pregnant woman suffer from mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Additionally, the study found that 5% have major depressive disorder.

Data suggests that disorders in pregnancy may not be diagnosed until the postnatal period if diagnosed at all. The problem is that many woman are afraid to speak out are not supported properly. Because of the stigma attached to the area woman feel like if they speak out then they will be treated unfairly or pin pointed as a bad mother. However, not speaking out and not getting the correct help may lead to Postnatal depression, and both conditions can have consequences for them and their baby.

‘There is the expectation that a woman’s experience of pregnancy should always be joyous’ says Louise Howard, Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist and professor of Woman’s Mental Health at King’s College London, ‘but the truth is pregnant woman can often put emotional and mental pressure on themselves to feel happy all the time.’

‘It is important for pregnant woman not to feel embarrassed or guilty about experiencing the emotions they didn’t expect during pregnancy. They deserve compassionate support.’

To encourage woman to seek help, Tommy’s the UK leading baby charity, has launched a thought-provoking video about mental health in pregnancy, titled Talk to someone.

Here are their expert tips to look after your mental health during pregnancy:

  • Rest and focus on your baby. Take time out of your day to do something you enjoy.
  • Talk about how you feel with someone.
  • Eat well – eat a variety of different foods and plenty of fruit and veg – get all the nutrients your baby needs.
  • Take some exercise.
  • Take some time to think about and prepare for the birth and life with a new baby.
  • Rest when you can and try to get regular sleep
  • Seek expert advice for worrying matters such as money, housing employment and relationships.