Yoga or you-time? Looking after your mental health in pregnancy

Posted on 31/01/2018 by Antenatal Online | Leave a Comment

 

We all know the importance of staying physically healthy in pregnancy. We know for example that you donít need an additional donut for the baby, that sadly yes you can still go running and that resting for 9 months is for some reason frowned upon. In addition to looking after our physical wellbeing during pregnancy however, we are increasingly hearing that our mental health is just as important.

 

Most women will notice emotional changes during pregnancy - I for one threw a mug at my husbandís head in a pregnant rage and it is only because Iím an appalling shot that he lived to tell the tale. Some mums-to-be however donít just experience the normal hormonal highs and lows. Pregnancy is a time that prenatal anxiety or depression can develop.

 

There are however steps you can take to help you have a good emotional experience during pregnancy. Here Claire from Birth Story Listeners gives us her tips for protecting your mental health whilst growing your human:

 

Get connected: They used to say it takes a village to raise a child and while our notion of a village has changed, the sentiment remains the same. These days with many of us living away from our families our village may include our partner, friends, those we meet while pregnant at groups and on social media and medical professionals. It is important to gather your village around you before you give birth Ė we arenít designed to do this alone.

 

Be aware of your expectations: Itís great to have high expectations of your care givers and for your labour and birth and itís good to spend time thinking about your birth preferences. A birth plan can help you get informed about your birth choices and help you feel more in control. But birth can be unpredictable and there are times that things may not turn out exactly as you planned. That doesnít mean you canít still have a positive experience but it might help to think in advance how you would cope and what your wishes would be if your plans had to change e.g. if you plan a home birth but have to be transferred to hospital.

 

Work out whatís normal for you: If you understand what is normal for you in terms of your mental health and how you deal with stress then you are more likely to spot early signs of antenatal depression and to be able to get help. Seek advice and support early if you have a pre-existing mental health condition. Similarly seek advice if you are already taking anti-depressants and donít stop unless you are advised to by your GP.

 

Be kind to yourself: Some women experience symptoms of depression when they arenít able to live up to their own expectation about their pregnancy or birth, about feeding their baby or how they feel after said baby arrives. Having a baby is a life changing experience. Be kind to yourself and try to have realistic expectations of what your life as a mum will be like.

 

Talk to your partner: It really does help to spend some time talking to your partner about your worries and fears and to find out if they have any! How does your partner react to seeing you in pain ordinarily? How do they deal with stress? Do you like to be fussed over when you are in pain or left alone? Are you direct in asking for what you want or do you expect your partner to just know what you need? Will your partner feel comfortable speaking up for what you want in labour? How will they cope if they feel they canít solve a problem or find a role? All these things are worth discussing before you give birth.

 

Take positive steps: Eat well, sleep well, see friends, join antenatal groups, plan fun activities, sort out financial or relationship issues before the baby arrives instead of putting things off and learn to say no if necessary.

 

Most importantly of all, if you find you are anxious, fearful and down, donít suffer in silence, speak to your midwife.

 

Birth Story Listeners run a local peer support group in North Wales to support women who have had a difficult time in childbirth. Find out more at https://www.facebook.com/groups/birthstorylisteners/



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