Emotions During & After Pregnancy
Emotions During & After Pregnancy
Having a baby brings up a lot of feelings. You may be anxious, excited, sad, and happy all at the same time! It’s normal and okay to feel that way. Pregnancy hormones can cause some strong emotions, and besides, there is a lot changing in your life right now! Knowing the signs of when to seek help and learning some coping skills will help keep you and your baby healthy.
Stress is normal, but high levels of stress can make you feel overwhelmed, out of control, and irritable. A high level of stress during pregnancy can affect the health of you and your baby. For both of your sakes, it’s important for you to manage your stress. Your emotional health is every bit as important as your physical health, so don’t ignore your feelings.
Everyone deals with stress differently, but some reactions to stress can be unhealthy--like using drugs or alcohol or taking out your feelings on others. It's important to find a way to cope with stress without hurting yourself or others.
So, what are some healthy ways to manage stress? First, try to figure out what is stressing you out. Talk to a friend, partner, or an adult you trust about it. Talking to someone can help you figure out what’s bothering you and what you can do to change it. Can you get rid of the source of the stress, or are there better ways to cope with it? There are lots of different ways you can learn to take care of yourself and handle your stress.
People never mention the long nights that you just want to sleep but can’t. They don’t mention the depression you get, or how it changes your relationship with your baby’s father, or the struggles you have with financial issues.
—18-year-old mom, Whatcom County
Other people's stress can affect you a lot too. Sometimes the people around you act violent or are abusive when under stress. Being in this environment limits your resources, increases your stress, and can create serious problems for you and your baby. See Is It Healthy? for more information on abuse and how to get safe.
Depression during pregnancy is more common than you might think: it affects about one in five women. A variety of things can cause depression during pregnancy, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. If you feel sad or hopeless and it’s interfering with your daily life, don’t ignore it! Depression isn’t something you should try to handle on your own. Talking to a professional or taking medication prescribed by your doctor can help a lot. Sometimes depression can also put your baby at risk of health problems, so talk to your doctor if you are feeling low.
Is It Just the “Baby Blues”?
After your baby is born, your hormones change—again—and your daily life may now include caring for a newborn. These changes can trigger a lot of emotions too. Most women experience what is called the “baby blues” which can occur anytime in the first few months after the end of the pregnancy but last no more than two weeks. The baby blues can make you feel irritable, sad, or confused. The baby blues go away on their own, and talking with a friend or a trusted adult and getting plenty of rest can help a lot.
If you feel the baby blues for longer than two weeks, or if it gets worse, you might be experiencing postpartum depression. About one in eight women get postpartum depression sometime in the first three months after their baby is born. This doesn’t mean they did anything wrong or are bad mothers. Postpartum depression is a serious medical condition that can put you and your baby at risk, so don’t try to handle it on your own. There are treatments available. It’s especially important to reach out and get help if you feel sad, numb, or overwhelmed for more than two weeks and experience any of the following:
- You have little interest in your usual activities or hobbies.
- You feel tired all the time.
- You notice changes in how much or how little you want to eat.
- You gain or lose weight more than normal.
- You have trouble sleeping or are sleeping too much.
- You have trouble concentrating or making decisions.
- You are thinking about suicide or death.
If at any time you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, call 911 immediately.
They are here to help.
Where Can I Find Help?
If you think you may be suffering from postpartum depression, contact your doctor, nurse, or midwife. You’re not alone, this doesn’t make you any less of a mom, and there is help. All of the symptoms of postpartum depression are treatable with support and professional help. The type of treatment you need depends on your symptoms. Don’t be embarrassed or shy to talk to your health care provider about medical treatment, they will offer more information and resources to help you. Talk to them about what you are feeling.
For support, resources, and education you can call the Postpartum International Support of Washington’s free support line anytime at 1-888-404-7763. Your call will be returned by another mom who has experienced postpartum depression or a therapist. Another good resource for emotional support 24/7 is the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Read about stress during pregnancy, and watch a video.
Read about baby blues and postpartum depression, and watch a video.
Search for postpartum support in your area here.