Expecting a child is a blessing and an incredible experience, whether it’s your first child or not. Often, focus is mainly placed on the joy that comes with expecting, the long nights ahead or how it will change life as you know it. But we usually don’t emphasise on emotional health during pregnancy when in fact, the reality is that pregnancy can become overwhelming and stressful at times, where you might be going through a rather tough time while the best thing in your life is underway.
So how do you identify stress, anxiety and depression during your pregnancy, and very importantly, how do you manage or overcome it?
Identifying the signs
It is important to be self-aware of your emotions and how you feel from day-to-day, maybe having a journal to keep note of your health might be the right place to start and help you notice any changes – even the subtle ones. There are some key things to look out for to ensure you are aware of triggers related to anxiety and depression:
- Feeling lonely and sad;
- Crying a lot;
- Feeling anxious all the time
- Fatigue and wanting to sleep
- Avoiding people and not wanting to socialise
Getting through the stress and anxiety during your pregnancy
Once you have identified the signs – it’s critical that you address them. How you do this is up to you, and there are a number of options that can be considered, from speaking to someone, going to a professional to get properly diagnosed to identifying your stress areas and working on relieving or finding solutions to better manage these. Even just taking time out to focus on yourself – regrouping, reassessing and realising what you need, and want, can go a long way in helping you get through such times.
The process of growing a life can be quite daunting as you are focused on whether you are living your best life to ensure your little one’s growth is healthy. You worry about what you eat, drink and if you are doing enough physical activity to ensure that you are also healthy enough to have the best possible delivery process for you and baby. In some cases, the stress can be severe for expecting moms and ways to manage or deal with the stress and anxiety need to be top of mind – emotional health is probably one of the most important.
Start small and maybe opt for a more intimate solution – talk to your partner about what is keeping you up at night and your fears of not doing enough for your unborn child. Your partner – or a good friend – can be your confidant and through doing this, you might find out that he is also stressing about – or has been through – similar or different things. Because you are both being open and sharing your feelings you will find comfort in one another and end-up reducing your stress and anxiety levels. You can also look at solutions or putting some things in place that work for both of you. And of course, it’s always good to know you are not alone in your fears.
Additionally, keep these tips in mind when you are feeling overwhelmed:
- Reduce the time you spend on the internet – researching is great, but don’t get to a point where it consumes your entire life and fuels your paranoia.
- Take time in the day to meditate – quiet time to clear your mind and thoughts might be just what you need to calm yourself and have a level-head when reacting to situations and new information.
- Resting is vital – whether it’s sleeping early, taking breaks or going on a short vacation, time away from it all will help you with your stress levels.
- Try to eat healthy – when you eat healthy it translates to you feeling better about yourself and that way you focus less on negative things.
- Don’t overload yourself with work – don’t commit to stressful amounts of work, know your limits and plan your tasks accordingly to avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety.
How to deal with depression while pregnant
Depression is an illness that alters your mood, causing you to feel sad and hopeless. In many cases, it is easier for women who have been diagnosed with depression previously and fall pregnant, to ‘relapse’ into depression as pregnancy can be quite overwhelming. In fact, 1 in 10 pregnant women suffer from Ante-natal Depression so it is essential that expectant moms take care of their mental health and know how to identify the cues.
Pregnancy is an amazing thing to experience – enjoy the process of growing a life inside of you and make sure you are self and emotionally aware to notice the little, or big, things robbing you of fully experiencing this time in your life. Ensure that you have a solid support system around you – be it your partner, family or friends. Make your pregnancy journey one to remember and embrace every moment of it!