It is well known that the mother should look after herself during pregnancy, and that she should eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, not drink alcohol, and refrain from smoking.
It is not so well known that the mother’s emotional state is important too. The mother’s stress during pregnancy can have a long lasting effect on her child. Although, it is important to remember that the majority of children will not be affected.
It is also very important that the mother does not blame herself, or that others blame her, if there are problems with her child. However, we all need to give more support to pregnant women and help to reduce their stress.
If you feel stressed, anxious or depressed while you are pregnant don’t suffer in silence; talk to your partner, friend, family or midwife about it and see if that helps. Think about what is upsetting or worrying you and if you can change anything in your life to improve things. Take time out of the day for yourself, when you relax listening to music, doing yoga, or anything that suits you.
In addition, receiving reliable information about what to expect during pregnancy and labour may help you feel more in control and relaxed about the whole situation. Antenatal classes are a great way to achieve this.
Some women, however, may have more severe feelings of anxiety or depression that last for weeks or get worse rather than better. If this is the case the next step should be to talk to your doctor and explain exactly what is going on. They may recommend help with a counselling or other talking treatment.
For women with more severe episodes of depression they may recommend antidepressants. Although no one likes taking medication in pregnancy, for some women the benefits they can bring may outweigh these concerns.
Also your partner may be emotionally cruel to you or physically abusive. This is much more common than most people realise. If this is happening try to talk to someone about it, your midwife or doctor, and try to get the appropriate help.
Begin before Birth