It is common for people to focus on physical health during pregnancy, but the truth is that mental health for pregnancy is just as important. Pregnancy is a time of physiological, social, and psychological changes. With these changes you will need to find ways to cope with your emotions and mental health. In order to take charge of your mental health while pregnant you need to have the proper knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Knowledge includes recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental turmoil, skills include ways to cope and protect your mental health, and attitudes are how you feel about your mental health. Feeling ready and like you have the ability to maintain or improve your mental health is vital in this process.
Having social support is one of the most important resources you can have during your pregnancy. Social support is the support from those around you. Some common support people can be your partner, friend, family members, support groups, and even health care professionals. Support can be offered by simply listening about your experiences and them sharing their experiences with you. This simple conversation can keep you feeling understood and prevent isolation. Especially in this time of COVID-19 it can be difficult to feel connected and to have the support you need. A great way to connect during this time is through video chatting or even joining an online support group for pregnant people.
Do Activities You Enjoy
Doing activities you enjoy will always help to make you feel at ease. You can get lost in the experience and have a good time. While pregnancy may make it difficult to do some of the things you used to love doing, there are many ways to modify your past experiences or even find joy in new experiences. Even with a hectic schedule taking moments for yourself can reduce stress and create an outlet for your emotions. Exercise such as a mild walk or prenatal yoga can be great activities that reduce your stress and get some benefits for both your mind and body.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness is the process of being intentional and present in the moment. This could be as simple as being aware of the feeling of your feet on the floor, or your finger swiping your phone. Mindfulness can bring you into the present moment and reduce anxiety that may be caused from thinking about the future. Meditation is a practice that uses the techniques of mindfulness and breathing to calm the mind and reduce stress. These are great strategies to enhance your mental health and wellbeing, and it does not take much time out of your busy day. Many people use meditation and mindfulness in a practice everyday, but it can also be used whenever you recognize yourself beginning to feel overwhelmed or stressed.
Common Mental Illness in Pregnancy
Mental illness in pregnancy can happen to anyone regardless of if you have had a history of mental health struggles. Mental health in pregnancy is a result of social, hormonal, physical, and emotional factors. With an influx of hormones your body can be changed in many ways. The most common mental health issue in pregnancy and after birth is depression. Depression is on a scale from mild to severe and it differs from person to person. Generally, depression is a consistent depressed mood, lack of appetite, and loss of interest in activities you may usually enjoy doing. Depression can be very difficult for the person experiencing it, especially in pregnancy. Anxiety is another common mental illness that affects pregnant people. It can cause you to feel uneasy and worried, and can even interfere with your daily life. While mental health concerns can be common, they are not normal and you should not expect to feel them. If you are experiencing any change in mental health you may want to consider reaching out to a health care professional or even speaking with your social supports.
When To Seek Help
Knowing when to seek help with mental health concerns is very important. Often people may feel reluctant to reach out for help with these issues because it is not as socially acceptable to discuss in our society. However, mental health issues are nothing to be ashamed of and can affect your life just as much as any physical health issue. The rule of thumb for reaching out to a mental health professional or your health care provider is if you feel that you cannot handle it on your own or it is interfering with your daily life. If you are no longer able to easily perform your activities of daily living or are having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
Mental health is a constant balance. Some days may be better than others, but practice and dedication you can do your best to take positive steps for your mental health. Also, recognize that sometimes you may need help to protect your mental health during pregnancy and beyond. Overall, do your best to do things you love and appreciate this time of pregnancy.