Coping with Prenatal Depression: Tips for Expecting Mothers

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Thankfully it is much more commonplace for people to discuss mental health in motherhood these days, with so much more support for those going through tough times than in the past, despite it not being a new phenomenon.

Having said this, prenatal depression is still something relatively unacknowledged, with postnatal depression experienced after you have given birth taking centre stage. For those of us who have experienced depression during pregnancy, it can feel incredibly isolating to go through these scary emotions without feeling like you can share your thoughts and concerns with others for fear of being judged.

As somebody who has gone through prenatal depression and anxiety in two out of three of my pregnancies, I wanted to share some tips for expecting mothers who might be going through these experiences themselves - just remember, despite how it may feel, you are never alone, and there is support available

Never Be Afraid to Speak Up 

It may seem scary and daunting to tell people you are struggling with your mental health while pregnant, after all pregnancy is painted as being an incredible experience. Something that so many desire, that you should be grateful for, but pregnancy can be tough, especially if you are experiencing depression. Your doctor and midwife are there to help support you, no matter what, without judgement. Let people know you need help, and never be afraid to do so.

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Make Use of Resources Available 

There are resources available for expecting mothers going through depression and anxiety, including prenatal counselling, available on the NHS. I had around ten sessions when I was pregnant with my first baby and experiencing low mood, including panic attacks.

I felt fully supported by my health team, and it really helped to be able to talk to somebody in a safe space without judgement. I benefited massively from this and went on to feel strong enough to cope with the challenges that motherhood throws at you. 

Join Support Groups and Forums 

If you aren’t sure about counselling, there are in-person and online support groups and forums that you can join to be able to talk to others going through the same or similar experiences as you are during pregnancy. These can really help you to realise you are not alone, you are not abnormal, there are also support groups available for loved ones, especially partners who may be struggling to understand how to help support you. 

There is No Shame in Getting Help 

Remember, there is absolutely no shame in seeking support and guidance. I was a young mum with my first pregnancy and felt overwhelmed by everything. When I realised I was also going through depression, I found it hard to believe people wouldn’t look at me as incapable of being a mum and looking after my baby when he came, but that is not true, your midwife and doctor are there to help get you feeling stronger, they are not there to judge you or look down on you, and they certainly don’t want to prevent you from being a good parent.

Equally, when I was pregnant with my youngest, I was on antidepressants, and I worried it would be frowned upon by medical professionals, however I was supported to stay on the tablets on a lower dose, and gradually I felt confident and strong enough to lower the dosage and come off of them with the support and guidance from my doctor (but if you are unable to do this, there is also no shame in that).  

Lean on Loved Ones 

Above everything, I am so grateful that I had the support of loved ones throughout all of my pregnancies, but especially when struggling with my mental health. I was able to open up and share my concerns with my mum and then my husband, who were able to support me in getting help to benefit me and my unborn baby. I cannot recommend speaking to those around you enough - it is so good to have someone to talk to. 

Please don’t feel isolated if you are experiencing prenatal depression, or any other mental illness, during pregnancy. There is help and advice available, all you need to do is ask, and if that feels too scary, take a look online for support groups available through the NHS or other respected authorities or charities. You need not go through this alone. 

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