by Pam Otis
If you are pregnant, have you experienced a feeling of “sadness” or “detachment” from the baby inside you after learning of your pregnancy? Most of us have heard of postpartum depression caused by hormonal changes in a woman after pregnancy; however, there is also something called prenatal depression that is similar and occurs in at least 70% of pregnant women. The symptoms are:
- Problems concentrating
- Problems with sleep
- Changes in eating habits
- Feeling anxious
- Feeling “blue”
Although these symptoms are not as serious as postpartum depression, women should be aware of them. A woman’s emotional mood swings and other changes in her psyche at the beginning of pregnancy can cause stress and fear within herself in ways that are unfamiliar to her. At the first sign of these symptoms, a young girl or woman should not feel stigmatized about seeking professional counseling at this time whether this was a planned pregnancy or not. It is important for pregnant women to be aware and understand their emotional and physical changes and dispel the fears of what they do not understand about themselves.
There are excellent pregnancy resources and support groups free to anyone with questions or in need of assistance at any time. During your prenatal visits do not be afraid to disclose to your doctor any of your concerns. You may ask your doctor for book referrals, pamphlets, or even websites that may offer further insights into prenatal depression. To ignore a need for help might create more unnecessary anxiety and even lead to making unclear decisions in both the mother’s and baby’s life.
Countless mothers have gone through a variety of concerns regarding prenatal depression and can share their experiences with you in support groups. There is great strength, peace, joy, and enthusiasm walking a path together through the mystery of motherhood. The actualization that you are not alone and other women have had similar experiences during this time of their life can become a vehicle of shared hope during uncertain times.
About the Author
Former Birthright of Pittsburgh volunteer.