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I'm Pregnant

 

Pregnancy is a time of major change. You are growing a little human being in your body! Your body undergoes tremendous changes – weight gain, nausea, sore breasts, stretch marks, sciatic pain. Other things may also change, including your relationships with your partner, your friends and family members, work colleagues, etc., your living situation, your diet and exercise routine.

Emotional changes during pregnancy

It is not uncommon for women to feel the following emotions during pregnancy:

  • Sadness
  • Mood swings
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Difficulty contentrating
  • Lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Changes in sleeping and eating habits
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt or inadequacy

If the pregnancy is unexpected, you are suffering from financial stress, you are a victim of domestic violence, you are having relationship troubles, you have just moved, or you are socially isolated, these feelings can be tremendously amplified.

Myths of Motherhood

Many of the beliefs and expectations we have about being a mother are based on ideas we have picked up from others: friends, family, and the media. What is particularly confusing for many expectant and new mothers is that messages about motherhood are sometimes contradictory! It can be helpful to think about which of these ideas feel true to you and which might in fact be myths that you don’t necessarily have to follow.

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Write down what you envision motherhood to be like.
What kind of mother do you want to be?
What motherhood traits do you want to avoid?

Balancing needs

It important for expectant moms to take care of themselves too. Sometimes just finding ways to take a little time for yourself can make a big difference. Consider making time for the following activities during your pregnancy:

  • Take a walk with a friend
  • Read a book
  • Binge a television show
  • Go to the movies
  • Go to the beach
  • Get your nails done
  • Have a massage
  • Sing
  • Watch a movie
  • Garden
  • Turn on music and dance
  • Ask for and accept help from others
  • Pray
  • Meditate
  • Journal
  • Take a nap
  • Cook
  • Call a friend
  • Do something nice for someone
  • Make a cup of tea
  • Take a bath
  • Do crafts

Circle of Support

They say it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to raise a mother. Pregnancy is the perfect time to take an inventory of your relationships, reconnect with those most important to you, anticipate the help you are going to need during the postpartum period and create a postpartum action plan.

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Create your Postpartum Action Team

Who will visit you in the hospital? Who will you call when you need dinner cooked or the house cleaned? Who will you call when you just need to cry or vent.
Ask these people if they are willing to support you in these ways so that your postpartum action team is in place.

How To Ask For Help

"I'm not feeling like myself. I think I need help. Can you help me find someone to talk to?"

"I feel so alone in my feelings. Do you think there are other people like me who are having a hard time being pregnant? Can you help me find them?"

Connecting with the baby in the womb

Babies growing in the womb have feelings and senses too. Babies develop hearing in the womb and can usually recognize their mother’s voice when they are born. When mothers take the time to talk or sing to their baby in the womb or connect in other ways, they begin the process of bonding and start practicing and enjoying their new role as mothers.

Know when to get help with prenatal depression and anxiety

Feeling depressed or anxious during pregnancy can be experienced in different ways, but here are the most common symptoms:

  • Feeling tired for no good reason
  • Feeling irritable or angry
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed or hopeless
  • Feeling so nervous that nothing can calm you down
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling restless
  • Feeling like everything is an effort
  • Feeling so sad that nothing can cheer you up
  • Feeling worthless
  • Big changes in appetite — eating significantly more or less than usual
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling like things that you used to enjoy are no longer interesting
  • Feeling unable to look forward to anything
  • Wanting to blame yourself when things go wrong
  • Feeling scared or panicky for no good reason
  • Not able to stop crying
  • Thoughts of harming yourself

If you have are feeling down, worried or on edge for most of the day nearly every day for a period of time ...

If your symptoms continue even when you are doing things that used to make you feel better ...

If your symptoms are impacting your life, by creating problems with your partner, your ability to care for yourself and the baby or do your job ...

It is a good idea to get some help. Getting help is important for a quick recovery and a healthy future with your baby.

Take Action

If you have consistently felt any of the other symptoms on this list recently, discuss them with your healthcare provider.
Bring this checklist with you.

What does help look like?

Self-care: Making adjustments in your life to reduce stress, such as get exercise, sleep more, or make changes in your diet.

Peer Support: Talk to friends and family members who have experienced depression or anxiety during pregnancy. You will quickly learn that you are not alone.

Support Groups: These are groups that meet regularly and are facilitated by a licensed clinician and/or a peer. Facilitators bring topics for conversation and participants leave with more information and friendships with other pregnant people.

Individual Psychotherapy: One-on-one therapy with a psychologist, clinical social worker or therapists is a safe place to share all your feelings and thoughts about your pregnancy.

Medication: Some expectant parents require medication to manage their depression and/or anxiety and feel like themselves again.

There is not one right way. Each birthing person has her own unique needs and circumstances. Some mothers may need all of help listed; others just a derivative of one. Ask your healthcare professional what treatment options are available and you can decide together what steps you should take. Or, call Postpartum Support International’s Warmline: 1-800-944-4773

Remember — asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or if you feel that you can see and hear things that others can't, reach out for help immediately.
Do not suffer with scary thoughts alone.

Remember ...

You are not alone. Maternal depression can affect any woman regardless of age, income, culture, or education.
It is NOT your fault. You are not a weak or bad person for feeling this. It is a common and treatable condition. There are many factors may impact how you are feeling, including your medical history, how your body processes certain hormones, the level of stress you are experiencing, and how much help you are getting. But what we do know is that this is not your fault.
With the right help, you will get better. The sooner you get treatment and support, the better. There are resources and help available.

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