These past few years have been anything but plain sailing, with financial turbulence, environmental disasters, slow economic recovery, and numerous COVID variants popping up. So it’s no surprise that this has increased stress among pregnant women.
In fact, research by Frontiers In Global Women’s Mental Health found that pregnant women nowadays have exhibited more depressive and anxiety symptoms compared to those who were pregnant before the pandemic.
As these emotions get worse, there is a chance that both you and your child could put your physical and mental health at risk. Therefore it is very important that you focus on your mental health at all times.
Mental health during pregnancy
As mothers enter the second trimester, their bodies release more corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). This is the central driver of your stress system, so CRH can stimulate anxiety when triggered by stressors.
The hormone can even affect appetite and sleep, which is harmful to both mother and child. In fact, results from the Women and Sleep Poll of the National Sleep Foundation showed that 78% of women found it more difficult to sleep while pregnant.
Hormonal factors, as well as the stress of experiencing rapid bodily changes during pregnancy, may also trigger depression in some women. As a feature on depression by SymptomFind explains, although it is normal for women to experience fluctuations in their mood, negative feelings become a cause for concern once they start interfering with a their ability to participate in daily activities.
Warning signs for depression include feelings of worthlessness, emptiness, irritability, or tearfulness, decreased energy, loss of interest or pleasure, changes in appetite, and difficulty concentrating. Negative feelings associated with depression do not go away on their own.
That being said, most of these mental health afflictions are avoidable — you just need to keep your stress levels in-check. It isn’t easy, but there are a few things you can try:
Talk therapy, also known as “psychotherapy,” is an effective method of dealing with stress, depression, and anxiety during pregnancy. Here, you and your therapist talk about your emotions and typical behaviors, as triggered by stressors, illnesses, or even trauma.
You can opt for scheduled sessions with a mental health professional. Therapy sessions with a psychologist can help you pinpoint the root of your emotional distress and figure out the best strategies for coping.
While therapy seeks to find underlying long-term patterns triggered by your thoughts and actions, counseling focuses on a specific issue for a shorter period of time. Therefore, if you have specific issues during pregnancy or postnatal periods, such as hormonal changes, insomnia, extreme anxiety, or PTSD, seek help from a certified counselor. They will teach you various coping mechanisms, like taking up a hobby, and relaxation techniques.
There are many organizations that offer counseling services, like The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Alternatively, if you already have a go-to counselor, you may approach them as well for assistance.
Another good mental health booster during pregnancy is exercise. Aside from a healthier pregnancy, exercising will also help with brain health and aid in postpartum recovery.
Additionally, contrary to popular belief, a study listed on online magazine Forbes Health notes that you can perform most exercises, even when you are pregnant, as long as you do not overdo it.
To improve blood circulation and build endurance, for instance, try walking, swimming, indoor cycling, or dancing. If you are already in your 7th month, keep the exercises low-impact, so you don’t put a strain on your muscles and joints.
In these delicate times, it’s so important to prioritize your mental health and overall well-being. Not only will your body thank you, but your baby will too.