Why do we feel vulnerable when we are pregnant?
Julia Jones: (Postnatal Doula and Creator and Director of the NEWBORN MOTHERS programme). See links.
‘Mothers are just as vulnerable as their babies. They have a really unique set of needs and they are similar in thattheir hearts are wide open, they are fragile, and they are brand new, just like their newborn baby!’
Just like their newborn baby they should not be expected to be left alone. They need support and nurturing.
Culturally and historically Mothers are not meant to be alone before or after having their babies, but cared for and supported by the tribe or village.
Hence in today’s Modern World it is not surprising that women struggle, feel anxiety, get stressed easily, and feel isolated and alone.
DEPRESSION – can be an unexpected experience for the pregnant woman and her family, and it is now becoming a major concern.As professionals we need to recognise we now have a new problem: the WORRIED WELL WOMAN.
CMS Midwives pledge: to work with women to acknowledge their fears, assess their risk of depression, and help to identify any emotional complications that arise during pregnancy or the postnatal period, so that women can feel supported, and their risk of mental health can be reduced.
Why do Perinatal Mental Health problems happen?
There is no concrete research evidence to answer this, as mental health concerns can happen to anyone, at anytime. Research has suggested that women who experience:
- a difficult birth,
- stressful life events or trauma,
- lack of support, relationship difficulties,
- family conflict,
- physical pain or needle phobia,
- financial worries, or those
- who may have experienced a mental health concerns in the past before pregnancy, or
- in a previous pregnancy or after having their baby,
- or a family history of postnatal depression, mental health, or addiction, may be at greater risk of experiencing a perinatal mental health problem.
However, some women may have none of these factors but still go on to experience a perinatal mental health problem.
What we do know is that your life experiences to date, do matter, and they can affect how you give birth and parent!
We ALSO know is that you can get better by receiving support and help.
What symptoms might you experience if you have a Perinatal Mental Health problem?
- Low mood
- Persistent sadness
- Anger or increased irritability
- Extreme changes in appetite
- Feeling worthless or hopeless
- Feeling anxious and or often nervous that ‘something will happen’ or ‘go wrong’
- Sleep difficulties (which are not related to complication or discomfort of pregnancy)
- Difficulty bonding with the baby
- Social withdrawal from partner, friends and or family
- Obsessive thoughts and or behaviours
- Suicidal thoughts – DO SEEK URGENT SUPPORT from your local Accident and emergency service if you experience such thoughts or you feel that your mental health is worsening.
How can I get help?
Speak to your GP, Midwife, Obstetrician or MCHN.
Talk to your partner, family or friends about how you are feeling. And,
Be aware that TALKING about how you feel and seeking help is ALWAYS better than dealing with difficult situations alone in silence.
What help will be offered?
Our Midwives are aware of the physical and emotional changes that occur during pregnancy and following childbirth.
Just as your body goes through changes so does your mind, thoughts and emotions.
It is very normal to experience mixed emotions, such as joy, excitement, and crying, feeling sad and worried while you are pregnant.
Pregnancy hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone contribute to these mixed emotional highs and lows that you can experience in the first three months of pregnancy, but these feelings may continue or get worse. It is important that you are not embarrassed or afraid to talk about how you are feeling as we are there to help you.
After talking about your mental health concerns, we will assist you to identify your needs by offering a simple questionnaire for you to complete, which is your mental health assessment: The EDINBURGH POSTNATAL DEPRESSION SCALE, we can then refer you to the appropriate supportive services, who will discuss your treatment options below.
See Resources page. (Self Help and Local Services)
May not just mean medication there are plenty of options:
- REDUCE STRESSORS WHERE POSSIBLE
- INCREASE REST, MODERATE EXERCISE AND NUTRITION
- BRING IN PRACTICAL AND EMOTIONAL SUPPORTS
- CONSIDER PSYCHOTHERAPY WHERE POSSIBLE
- DISCUSS BENEFITS AND RISKS OF ANY MEDICATION (IF THAT IS REQUIRED)
See links/resources/download our leaflet.
While completing any treatment above it is important to stay in touch with us so we can support you along the way, provide continuity of care, and education, which will give you confidence and keep you calm.
Read more about what 5 Steps to Emotional Wellbeing in Pregnancy.
(Can be downloaded from resource section).
Outcome for Pregnant Women with a depressed mood:
- Not all women go onto have postnatal depression
- Some cases improve around delivery
- Successful and safe treatments in pregnancy can limit the progress of depressive illness
- Treatment enhances function in labour and attachment with baby after birth.