Pregnancy & Mental HealthGood mental health is important to both you and your baby. Unborn babies feel and respond to their mother's emotional state, which may influence their growth and development.
Pregnancy changes one's outlook on life with the added concern of a growing baby in mom's tummy. The very first change is your diet – eating right means consuming healthy meals, and all mothers-to-be go on this journey. Taking care of your physical health and that of your baby is every mother's top priority, but so many mothers neglect the importance of mental health. That’s why today’s article is all about mental health.
What is mental health?
Mental health is your state of mind, which is pronounced through emotions that inevitably control how you cope with the mind and body changes brought on through pregnancy. Many of the challenges during and after pregnancy are hormone-related and are unavoidable; however, this does not mean you can’t exercise control over the changes you experience. Having a strong and positive mental attitude is enforced by accepting your pregnancy as a wonderful life gift with you as the captain of your very own ship.
Why mental health is important during this time.
Life in itself is not all smooth sailing. Pregnancy brings on many concerns and compounds stress by worrying about what's to come. Mothers-to-be will worry about their unborn baby and will fill their minds with many medically related questions. The fact that there are few immediate answers will lead to added worry and stress.
If a past pregnancy was plagued with complications or possibly ended in a miscarriage, this intensifies worry and stress to the point that it can become mentally debilitating. Worry is like paying interest on something that hasn't occurred yet and may not even occur.
Depression and anxiety during the antenatal period affects about 1 in 10 women and 1 in 20 men. Worry and stress experienced during pregnancy can usually be curbed with sound pregnancy management designed to give you peace of mind.
Some practical tips for maintaining good mental health
Good mental health is important to both you and your baby. Unborn babies feel and respond to their mother's emotional state, which may influence their growth and development. For this reason, it is important to keep your mental well-being in check. Here are some tips to get you started:
Manage your pregnancy by being proactive in addressing any challenges head-on. For example, if you feel constantly down for more than about two weeks or develop compulsive or obsessive behavior, which is a sign of a mental health issue, you need to consult your doctor for professional advice.
Avoid making any major changes to your lifestyle, like moving home, as this can be stressful.
Stay active by doing pregnancy-friendly exercises and keep in contact with friends and extended family, much the same as you did before your pregnancy. These people who make you feel happy are a good support base to have.
Eat healthily and avoid drugs and alcohol as a means of dealing with emotions.
Join expectant mothers' groups, interact, and offer your support to mothers in need. Through this, you will also be supported, and many of the worries you have will be alleviated.
Never be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Meditation and breathing exercises will help you relax.
Get enough rest and involve yourself in activities that make you happy.
Where to find help
For those with partners or immediate family, they are generally on call 24/7 for you, and they will be part of your journey every step of the way, but you may need some extra help in dealing with the emotional roller coaster ride of emotions you're experiencing. After all, your loved ones don't know you that well in your new role as a mother-to-be and may not know how to respond.
Speaking to your doctor, midwife, or any of the professionals within the pregnancy childbirth field will help you better understand the changes you are going through. In addition, making friends with other expectant mothers helps a great deal and will let you know that you are not alone in your experiences.
But whenever you feel down or depressed, and nothing seems to get better, your best option is to contact your doctor and have your partner join you at your appointment. Having someone close to you for support, especially in times of need, will help you to deal with issues a lot easier than if you were to go it alone. Though you may feel shame or guilt for needing help, know that it’s better than endangering your mental health and pregnancy.
Some COVID-19 related mental health tips
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stressful time for most people with extended lockdowns, restrictions on activities, and our freedom of movement. Being sociable and interacting with others is common behavior in people, but the limits placed on us in an attempt to contain the pandemic have had an enormous effect on the mental well-being of individuals and family units alike. Families have had to get creative and come up with ideas on how to deal with the isolation brought on by the social distancing rules of the pandemic.
A novel way to avoid slumping down into depression is to create a daily routine chart with different permissible outdoor activities scheduled differently for each day. This way, you will not be caught in a daily repetitive routine. That on its own will become boring. By keeping exercise a daily constant, and by changing the type of exercises you do, this will keep you healthy. If you have children in the house, get them involved in fun exercises, too.
Keeping social contact through the Internet with platforms such as Zoom has helped people remain in contact, which has watered down the impact of total isolation. Expectant mothers can still maintain a social lifestyle with their support groups and extended family through these online platforms.
Most of us believe that being locked down is bad, but it has created a perfect opportunity for family bonding. It’s given us time to find and start new hobbies, interests, and even careers. Home decorating and repairs are things that have kept parents busy during the stay-at-home periods, and some families have even used the time to take stock of their lifestyle and cut away all the unnecessary spending on things the family can do without.
Expectant mothers have had to deal with pandemic issues, resulting in more stress about their own health and that of their little ones. A big relief to all parents is that children are hardly affected by the virus, and the recovery rate of people under the age of 60 is very high. On the other hand, the pandemic has compelled people to look at their physical state and to begin working on a healthier lifestyle.
Fortunately, doctor's visits have not been restricted, and expectant mothers are still able to have regular check-ups and consult medical professionals when necessary.
Inhale & Exhale
We’ve covered what mental health is, why it’s important to pay attention to our mental health needs, provided several simple everyday tips to improve your head space, covered who to reach out to for more help, and added some details about mental health during the pandemic. We hope this information helps you clear your mind and put you at ease.
Remember, none of us are truly alone in life. Mental stress affects everyone at some point in time. We are all here on this planet together, which means interdependence is necessary for our survival. If you need help, reach out. It’s the first and hardest step to making a difference.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Nadia Rumbolt
Nadia Rumbolt is a mom of many trades, including creative writing, blogging, van life, minimalism, veganism, the beach, nature, and the occult.