Perinatal Mental Health


What is Perinatal Depression?

Experiencing depression before or after the birth of a baby is not unusual, and you are not alone. It is natural to experience emotional ups and downs during pregnancy and mild mood changes are common. However, if feelings of depression during or after pregnancy last for  more than two weeks or get in the way of your daily activities, it is time to ask for help. 

Signs that you may need extra help include any of the following:

  • Sad feelings that don’t go away
  • Excessive irritability or crankiness
  • Feelings of emptiness or hopelessness
  • Eating much more or less than usual
  • Persistent trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping much more or less than usual not related to changes in your baby’s sleep schedule
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering things, or making decisions
  • Loss of interest in things that matter to you

What is Perinatal Anxiety?

Anxiety during and after pregnancy is not unusual. It's normal to worry about your child's wellbeing and want to protect your baby while you are pregnant and after giving birth. But if you start to experience symptoms that affect your daily life and wellbeing, it is important to reach out for help.

Symptoms may include: 

  • Constant worry and racing thoughts
  • Changes in appetite
  • Persistent trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping much less than usual not related to changes in your baby’s sleep schedule
  • Having upsetting thoughts (e.g., fearing that terrible things will happen to your baby or yourself)
  • Feeling the need to do certain things over and over again to reduce fears

Upsetting or intrusive thoughts can be disturbing and frightening. It's important to remember that they are not your fault. Having an intrusive thought doesn't mean that you want to act on it, or that you will act on it.

What you can do:

Perinatal depression and anxiety are treatable with professional help. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of perinatal depression and anxiety, the most important thing to remember is that these symptoms are common and you are not alone. There are safe and effective ways to treat and manage the symptoms of depression and anxiety, such as talk therapy or medication. That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor or give us a call right away. 

Seeking support from a health care provider is the first step towards regaining your energy and a sense of emotional wellness. Having a new baby can be challenging even when you’re feeling at your best, and you deserve wellness.

In addition to professional treatment, you can do some things for yourself that build on your treatment plan , help speed recovery, and improve your overall sense of wellness.

  • Make healthy lifestyle choices. Include physical activity, such as taking a walk with or without your baby, and other forms of exercise in your daily routine. Try to get adequate rest. Eat healthy foods and avoid alcohol.
  • Set realistic expectations. Don't pressure yourself to do everything. Scale back any expectations you might have for a perfect household. Do what you can, within the context of your own wellness, and leave the rest.
  • Make time for yourself. Take some time for yourself and get out of the house. That may mean asking a support person to take care of the baby or arranging for a sitter. Do something you enjoy, such as a hobby or some form of entertainment. You might also schedule some time alone with your partner or friends.
  • Avoid isolation. Talk with your partner, family members, and friends about how you're feeling. Ask other people about their experiences. Breaking the isolation may help you feel human again.
  • Ask for help. Try to open up to the people close to you and let them know you need help. If someone offers to baby-sit, take them up on it. If you can sleep, take a nap, or maybe you can catch a movie or meet friends for a walk or coffee. You may also benefit from asking for help from friends, family members, or professionals on caregiving techniques to improve your baby's sleep and soothe fussing and crying.

Remember, taking care of your baby includes taking care of yourself.