#BellLetsTalk: What Keeps Pregnant Women Quiet

#BellLetsTalk: What Keeps Pregnant Women Quiet January 31, 2018Leave a comment

She wanted to tell someone. Anyone.

But telling came at a big price. The should have’s. The should do’s. The you should not’s.

And she just couldn’t face it.

Our research shows that 3 of 4 women can’t start the conversation that leads to them sharing concerns about their emotional health.

We’ve also learned that if someone else starts that conversation, 97% of women could open up.


Our research shows that the top barriers that keep women from expressing their concerns, fears and worries about their mental health are:

  • Their partner, friend, or a family member has told them that emotional struggles are “normal” for pregnancy, everyone goes through it, and it will pass.
  • They don’t know what is “normal” and “not normal” for pregnancy.
  • They want to manage things on their own. They worry that if they talk, they’ll be advised to go on antidepressants.
  • They worry that their concerns won’t be taken seriously
  • They worry about being seen as a bad mother.
  • They don’t want to be seen as “depressed” or “anxious.”

On the flip side, women have shared with us that there are some things that would help them talk:

  • Knowing that other women struggle, too, with emotional challenges in pregnancy.
  • Knowing that there is help available.
  • Having a listener who is sensitive, caring, and interested.

And – 3 of 4 pregnant women told us that they would rather start the conversation about emotional health with their partner, friend, or family than a doctor, midwife or nurse.

#LetsTalk: What Can You Do?

  1. Become aware. Mental health problems are the most common complication of pregnancy (13-25%). Waiting to start the conversation until after the baby is born is too little, too late.
  2. Be sensitive.
  3. Start the conversation. Many women are waiting for that open door. Permission to start the conversation. Make it easy for them. A good starting point can be, “You don’t seem yourself. Are you OK?” The words are far less important than the “reach out” in the spirit of caring and compassion.
  4. Start the conversation EARLIER. A recent HuffPost article commented on #BellLetsTalk, not including maternal mental health. But – research over the past few years consistently shows that anxiety and depression are more common in pregnancy than postpartum. Let’s start the conversation EARLIER



  1. Kingston D, Austin MP, Heaman M, et al. Barriers and facilitators of mental health screening in pregnancy. J Affect Disord. 2015;186:350-357.
  2. Time to Change: Starting the Conversation

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