Pregnancy can be physically, mentally and emotionally trying, especially when navigating the experience for the first time. The thing is, while there’s plenty of advice out there for mothers-to-be about maintaining physical health and well-being, it’s just as important to manage your mental state.
Whether this is your first pregnancy or another precious addition to your growing family, there’s no other experience that can quite prepare you for the ups and downs, so follow these tips to improve mental health during pregnancy.
1. Self-care and coping strategies
There’s plenty of advice out there on ensuring the health of your growing baby, but the truth is that sometimes you need to put yourself first – and you deserve to. First and foremost, you need to make sure you’re checking in with yourself regularly, particularly because pregnancy can be such a stressful time.
Exploring and managing your feelings through outlets like journaling and meditation is a great start, but when you need a little extra human connection, consider joining a prenatal group. These supportive containers for parents-to-be will give you the opportunity to share your experiences, decompress, and learn from others all at once.
2. Professional help
It’s normal to experience some hardships and negative emotions as you’re navigating all the changes that come with pregnancy, but if you’re really struggling, speaking to a professional may be the best course of action – and this applies equally to mothers- and fathers-to-be. Men’s experiences of baby blues may be a less common point of discussion, but they should never be overlooked, as this can have a significant impact on their mental health and the overall family dynamic.
Any mental health issues mothers experience during pregnancy can affect the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the baby. Depressed mothers are prone to poor nutrition and health complications such as high blood pressure or diabetes, and may even experience temptations to smoke cigarettes, all of which can have a serious impact on their unborn babies’ physical health.
Beyond the potential physical consequences, children born to women with mental health issues are also more likely to face developmental and behavioural problems as they grow. The good news is, by seeking professional help, you can minimise (and even eliminate) the impact on your baby, and keep your little family unit happy.
3. Healthy lifestyle choices
There’s no denying it – pregnancy causes drastic changes to your body and your hormones that can be challenging to manage and come to terms with. The good news is that the right lifestyle choices can have a significant positive impact, and there are plenty of simple ways to refill your cup.
It’s a good idea to start with the basics, like having a balanced, healthy diet, drinking plenty of water and getting fresh air. Simply heading outside for a walk in the fresh air can make a huge difference to your physical and mental health, particularly during the later stages of your pregnancy.
While many women continue to do more strenuous exercises through the trimesters, it is important to seek approval from your healthcare professional before committing to a program.
Seek Partner’s help
With the right support, even often-challenging experiences like pregnancy tend to seem more manageable, and for many women, their partner will be the main source of this support. This can seem like a lot of pressure, which is why it’s so important for fathers to take care of their own mental health first, as mentioned above.
Beyond this, there are plenty of ways a good partner can make the process easier; for example, sharing household tasks, going to prenatal classes together, and setting aside time to be alone together. It’s also very important for partners to practice holding space for whatever emotions and mood swings the mother-to-be may experience. These things may sound simple, but they’re extremely important in maintaining a strong bond before the baby arrives.
The experience of being pregnant and giving birth is such a major turning point for new mothers and fathers that it’s natural to experience some mental health issues. However, that’s not to say you should just put up with negative feelings – and there’s no need to do so when there are so many simple ways to help yourself and each other through the process.