Being depressed or anxious during pregnancy isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, research is showing that depression and anxiety are more common during pregnancy than after delivery. Treating them during pregnancy can help ameliorate or even prevent postpartum depression.
It’s fair to say that depression and anxiety during pregnancy aren’t really on the radar of most prenatal doctors and nurses. That means that if you think you’ve got some, or most, of the symptoms of depression or anxiety (such as sadness, consistent irritability, poor appetite, insomnia, or constant worry for two weeks or more), you may need to take the first step.
Photography by: Lois Hole Hospital – Colleen de Neve
Here’s who to consult to start getting help:
· Your Prenatal Care Provider: A great place to start is the doctor you’ve been seeing the most often. That might be your obstetrician, midwife or family doctor. These professionals know you well and can make a referral to someone who specializes in emotional health care that might be covered by your health insurance.
· Childbirth Educator: Your prenatal class teacher also has experience working with a wide variety of needs during pregnancy and may be able to steer you in the right direction of some nearby resources.
· Nurses: Registered nurses who work in your family doctor’s office or on labor and delivery floors of the hospital where you’ll have your baby are a great source for advice and referrals.
· Public Health Nurses/Visiting Nurse Association: Public health nurses in Canada or visiting nurses in America are trained to help women through complications during pregnancy.
· Yourself: Many women who have emotional challenges in pregnancy prefer to sort things out themselves. We’ve talked before about self-care strategies that have a solid evidence base for reducing stress, anxiety and depression—such as meditation, mindfulness practices, relaxation, exercise and friendship.
· Technology: There are some excellent online courses that may help. The team I work with is creating online class to help women cope better with the changes that pregnancy and motherhood bring—including setting reasonable expectations and avoiding the “comparison trap.” Let me know if you’d like to enroll (it’s free!). Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Other courses that are not tailored to pregnancy in particular but can also help you manage stress are MoodGym, MyCompass, and ThisWayUp.
· Online Professionals: There aren’t many really trustworthy information websites dedicated solely to prenatal emotional health—yet. But the Centre for Perinatal Excellence(COPE) is a new site that is research-based and well informed.
Bottom line: There’s no need to suffer in silence. There are many ways to find the help you need and more being created.
Want tips on how you can help yourself? Watch this vlog: ‘Why You Don’t Want Emotional Help During Pregnancy’