Having a child is usually a time of anticipation, joy, and happiness. While this is true for many, the reality is, pregnancy can also make some people feel vulnerable and worried. Moreover, the hormones and stress associated with pregnancy is also a known risk factor for the development of some mental health issues.
Research has shown pregnancy can influence the onset of disorders such as depression, psychotic disorders, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
During pregnancy, the woman’s body undergoes vast changes, including elevated levels of hormones. If the woman is dealing with relationship issues, family conflict, or any other life circumstance that causes stress, it is important to understand her mental health during this time is just as important as her physical health.
An important part of prenatal care
Once a woman finds out she is pregnant she often changes her diet, begins an exercise routine, and takes steps to protect her and her baby’s physical health. We suggest it is also important to take care of the mother’s mental health as emotional wellbeing and stress also has an impact on the infant’s health.
Therapy can be a preventative measure against issues such as depression and/or anxiety during pregnancy as it can provide protection from heightened levels of stress. In therapy, the woman can learn coping skills that can reduce her anxiety and prevent the onset or worsening of depression. A therapist can provide a supportive connection and safe relationship in which the woman can express her concerns, worries, and fears in a constructive and helpful environment.
Additionally, researchers have found depression and/or anxiety can cause a mother to become less concerned with her physical health as her emotional status is overwhelming and taking all of her energy to maintain a sense of equilibrium.
Motherhood is a major transition
When we experience big life changes such as getting married or having a baby, these changes tend to bring up a lot of complex feelings. A woman can feel contradictory emotions about becoming a mother: she is anticipating joy and at the same time losing her freedom as an independent person. She may worry about the practical implications of her relationship with her partner, her finances, and her social life.
The romantic view of motherhood is only half the picture. A woman undergoing major life changes can benefit from therapy. However, it is important to resist the ideas of the stigmas associated with therapy. When a woman finds out she is pregnant, the first thing she does is take steps to protect her physical health. It’s time we understood protecting and enhancing her mental health is equally important to the health and wellbeing of both mother and child.
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