For many, pregnancy is a happy, glowing
experience, but it is a myth that this is true for everyone.
Pregnancy, childbirth and becoming a parent are times of great
transition. Major hormonal and physical changes occur during
pregnancy, and responsibilities and uncertainties multiply.
Many women (and men) experience stress reactions during pregnancy
and/or following a miscarriage or termination of pregnancy.
Approximately 15-20 % of pregnant women experience depression.
It can also be confusing that normal pregnancy experiences
such as fatigue, appetite changes, and poor sleep are similar
to depressive symptoms. It is important not to assume that
these symptoms are just part of pregnancy.
Depression during pregnancy has been
associated with low birth weight and pre-term delivery (less
than 37 weeks). Severe anxiety during a pregnancy can cause
harm to the growing fetus due to higher cortisol (hormone)
levels and restricted blood vessels in the placenta. While
this is troubling information, the good news is that treatment
and support will contribute to the well-being of the mother,
baby and entire family.
In my work related to pregnancy issues,
I help women work through a variety of emotional concerns.
Here are some examples:
- Worrying about the health of her
pregnancy (this can be especially difficult if there is
a history of miscarriages, or infertility.)
- Extremely negative or uncertain
feelings about parenting related to a woman's personal history
in her family of origin.
- A resurgence of grief, loss and/or
guilt related to past miscarriages or abortions.
- Concerns regarding staying on psychotropic
medications (for depression or anxiety) during pregnancy
- Worrying about the responsibility
of caring for a new baby.
- Dealing with the emotions related
to an unplanned pregnancy.
- Having a history of a postpartum
mood disorder and therefore wanting to make a proactive
plan for postpartum support and care.