Pregnancy is often times welcomed with excitement, but no matter how eagerly the birth of a child is anticipated, stress and other forms of emotional distress are still likely to occur during the pregnancy period. Pregnancy issues may be mild or serious, but they can affect the health of the mother or the child, which can lead to life changes.
When issues arise during the pregnancy or after birth cause distress to one’s mental health, the support of a therapist or other mental health professional may be helpful.
Challenges Associated with Pregnancy and Birth
In many cases, the pregnant woman experiences the greatest amount of strain, even though pregnancy can be challenging for both parents. For a single mother, the emotional distress may be at higher levels if they lack adequate help and support.
In most cases, pregnancy proceeds without incident. However, even with an “easy” pregnancy, it may come with some mental or physical concerns. Many mothers-to-be experience stress or anxiety regarding the health of their child, the impending birth, or the whole host of complications that can occur with pregnancy.
These worries may be mild or severe, but the stress they can cause may lead some women to experience increased physical or mental strain, depression, or poor physical health, all of which may lead to increased risk in childbirth.
Pregnancy and Mental Health Concerns
A woman who is expecting may find herself experiencing mood swings, fear, anxiety, forgetfulness, or body image issues. This may down to the fact that although a pregnancy elicits many positive emotions, it can also result in women to experience negative thoughts and feelings.
In the case of women who experience depression or anxiety before becoming pregnant, they may be more likely to experience mental health issues during pregnancy. When mental health conditions do occur during pregnancy or after child birth, the doctor will generally be able to provide referrals to mental health professionals as well as immediate health care and support.
Due to a number of psychotropic medications having negative effects on a developing foetus, women who intend to be pregnant or those who suspect they may be are advised to contact their doctor for a comprehensive pregnancy test and their mental health care provider. Different medication may be prescribed to counter these adverse effects or an alternative form of treatment for the duration of the pregnancy, such as therapy only.
A therapist’s help and support can help each woman find the right option for her. Some mothers who have mental health concerns may become anxious when considering the possibility of passing their illness on to their child, but information and resources obtained from a health care professional may be helpful at addressing their concerns.
Societal norms and its and its many expectations may lead many women to experience anxiety or stress. It may be via well-meaning individuals such as close friends and family who may criticize the diet, weight gain or lack of it, of pregnant women and may often offer unsolicited opinions or advice. Some women may experience irritation or frustration which may lead some to doubt their own ability to be good mothers.
Soon-to-be parents may turn to parenting books or other sources of advice and become overwhelmed by conflicting opinions on the best or safest options available to them.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, please make an appointment with a counsellor or social worker. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help. There is always support available to you; you’re never alone.
Source: Marie Stopes South Africa (Safe Abortion and Post Abortion Family Planning)
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