Emotional health: The Sensible Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
When you are pregnant, the thoughts and feelings you experience can range from happiness and contentment - "I can't wait to hold my new baby", "I'm going to be a great mother" - to worry and stress - "Will I ever lose all this weight?", "Can I really support a baby on this pay cheque?" It's normal to experience these types of feelings. Your moods are changing right along with your hormones and your body. That's why your emotional health is more important than ever!
One in ten women suffers from bouts of depression during pregnancy
Learn the signs and symptoms of depression (see the next page) and contact your doctor if you feel you may be depressed.
You need your rest
Your body is busy 24 hours a day as your baby develops and it's hard work. If you're tired, don't skip sleep. Put your feet up, take a nap or just slow down. You'll feel better physically and mentally.
Staying active and eating well can help keep your moods in check
Make sure you are eating enough to nourish your baby. Eat regularly - don't skip meals - and make sure you drink plenty of water. You also need physical activity. A walk outside or swimming at the pool can leave you feeling refreshed.
Stay away from stress
If certain people or situations cause you stress, avoid them as much as possible. And don't take on added responsibilities at work or in your community. Having too much to do can be stressful at the best of times. Learn to say “no!”
Common Questions About Emotional Health
I'm fine one minute and in tears the next. Why am I so moody?
Mood swings are a normal part of pregnancy. Pregnancy triggers an outpouring of various hormones. These hormones can change the level of brain chemicals (called neurotransmitters) that, in turn, regulate mood. Some women may be moody all through pregnancy, but it's most common around the sixth to tenth week and then again in the third trimester when your body is getting ready for labour and delivery.
Is it safe to have sex?
Unless your doctor specifically advises you otherwise, sex during pregnancy is safe for both you and your baby. Intercourse can't hurt your baby or cause a miscarriage. You may find you want to have sex more than you did before you became pregnant. On the other hand, wanting sex less is perfectly normal too. Most couples resume an active sex life sometime during the first year of their baby's life.
Take care of yourself by eating well, staying active and finding time to relax and rest when you need it.
Accept offers of help from friends and family.
Share your thoughts and feelings with others. If you are worried, upset, sad or anxious, talking about it can help. Confide in your partner, a trusted friend or a family member.
Could I be depressed?
It's possible. Check with your health care provider if you have four or more of these symptoms for at least two weeks or if any of these symptoms particularly concern you:
- inability to concentrate
- extreme irritability
- frequent mood swings
- sleep problems
- extreme fatigue
- persistent sadness
- a lack of interest in things you used to care about
- a sense that nothing is fun or enjoyable anymore
- a dramatic change in appetite (up or down)
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