Mental Health In Pregnancy
As October 10th is World Mental Health Day, now is a great opportunity to address the mental health challenges being faced by women during pregnancy.
Going through a huge life change such as pregnancy can take its toll on your mental health at the best of times, not to mention the added factors of health anxiety and potential for isolation due to Covid-19.
For some women, a combination of hereditary factors, medical history and situational factors mean that depression and other mental health issues are unavoidable (although treatable). Fortunately, for the majority of women, simply making small changes can help to reduce your risks.
One of the most important things you can do for your mental health during pregnancy is to take stock of how you’re feeling, cut yourself some slack, and prioritise your wellbeing. Here are a few tips for taking charge of your mental health...
Tune Into Your Brain
Mindfulness has had a lot of air time over the last few years, and for good reason. The ability to calm your thoughts, relieve anxiety and reduce stress are just a few of the results you can expect with guided mindfulness. The process encourages you to notice your thoughts, your feelings and the physical world around you, and learn to let them go. As with anything, practice makes perfect, so carve out 15-30 minutes per day to listen to a guided mindfulness session and you’ll feel the benefits.
Try the Insight Timer app for a wealth of free resources.
Get Better Sleep
When you wake up tired, it’s that much harder to have a good day - but getting a solid night of sleep isn’t easy when you’re pregnant, let alone if you have other small children in the home. If you’re not sleeping well, try one of these tips:
- Add a few drops of lavender oil in your bath before bedtime
- No screentime in the hour before you go to bed
- Block out any light with a moulded eyemask
- Try a sleep aid, like the award-winning Deep Sleep Sleep Spray
- Swap your large duvet with two singles for less tossing and turning.
Fuel Your Body
One of the best things you can do to help your frame of mind is to keep your body well-fed and watered. Fresh, nutrient-rich foods give your body and brain much-needed energy to push through whatever the day throws at you. And don’t forget to keep your hydration levels topped up throughout the day to prevent that afternoon brain fog and dip in mood.
Mental health can be influenced by the different chemicals circulating your system. So, if you’re having a particularly low day, encouraging feel-good chemicals can help to boost your mood. Endorphins are a chemical produced when you exercise and increase feelings of wellbeing while reducing pain and stress. So, next time you’re feeling on edge or low, pop on a podcast or upbeat playlist and hit the pavement for a brisk walk.
Speak To Your GP
Mental health is a fickle beast. Sometimes, with a few conscious changes, you can get yourself back on track. Sometimes, you can’t. If you’re experiencing feelings of hopelessness, low mood or a lack of motivation, you may have clinical depression. Many antidepressants can be taken during pregnancy without risk to your baby, so if you have any of the NHS symptoms of depression, arrange a chat with your GP.
Mental health problems will affect 1 in 4 people in any given year. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Originally from New Zealand, Sarah is a mother to two boys and has lived in the UK for the past 10 years. She is a home-educator, freelance writer, Netflix-binger and has a penchant for strong black coffee.