Did you know?
Pregnancy is a major life event for any family. It can be joyful and fulfilling but also challenging with one in four women experiencing mental health problems during pregnancy and in the first year following the birth of a child, support from maternity services can significantly impact their mental health and wellbeing. Perinatal mental illness affects up to 27% of new and expectant mums and covers a wide range of conditions (Perinatal means the time you are pregnant and up to 12 months after giving birth).
If left untreated, mental health issues can have significant and long-lasting effects on the woman, the child, and the wider family.
I didn’t post this in Maternity Mental Health Week as I wanted to learn more about it. There are lots of things that we do not know or even don’t think we need to know until it becomes relevant to us. Being 25 weeks pregnant, I wanted to read and absorb this before writing this with a good understanding and confidence in which I can support with Maternity Mental Health or confidence in directing staff to the correct professionals had any of our staff need support. Internally the Managers carry out risk assessments with staff who are pregnant and work with them to plan a safe working environment, this could be no moving and handling or even a reduction in working hours and so on. Each Risk Assessment is individual and only based solely on the individual.
I have become very aware that it is natural to feel many different emotions when pregnant. But if you are feeling sad and it is starting to affect work and your life, it may be time to try things that may help:
These are some of the things that have been advised by health care professionals and also tried by myself – don’t be disheartened if some of these don’t work for you, remember we are all different.
- Talk about your feelings to a friend, family member, doctor, or your midwife.
- Try calming breathing exercises if you feel overwhelmed. You may find the link below useful https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/guides-tools-and-activities/breathing-exercises-for-stress/
- Try some physical activity if you can – it can improve your mood and help you sleep. I bought a birthing ball that comes with its own exercises to do at home.
- Eat a healthy diet with regular meals and drink plenty of fluids.
- Try to attend antenatal classes to meet other pregnant people this may help with how others may cope and know you are not alone.
There are many mental health problems you could experience in pregnancy that can happen at any time, even if this is not your first pregnancy.
Always speak to a doctor or midwife if the things you’re trying yourself are not helping you.
The table below may be able to offer you additional support, for example, they may be able to refer you to perinatal mental health services or other emotional support groups.
The table is taken from the NHS website.
|A table explaining symptoms of mental health problems and what it might be.|
|If you||You may have|
|feel sad all the time||depression|
|have flashbacks, nightmares or feel intense distress when reminded of a past experience||post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – this can happen if you had a pregnancy go wrong, a traumatic birth or have experienced abuse|
|have sudden attacks of panic or fear||panic disorder|
|have obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours||obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)|
|have an intense fear of giving birth||Tokophobia – Find out more about tokophobia on Tommy’s website|