Mental health and pregnancy

If you have previously had, or now have, severe mental health problems, you are more likely to become ill during pregnancy or in the first year after giving birth than at other times in your life.

You might also worry about becoming unwell as you may feel more vulnerable and anxious. Don’t be afraid to talk to your midwife, GP or health visitor who should be happy to discuss your particular problem with you.

Every pregnant woman and new mum should be asked about any previous mental health problems. If you have – or have had – a severe mental illness, your midwife or doctor should develop a care plan with you in the first three months of your pregnancy. The plan should be written down and given to you, and be recorded in your medical notes.

Sometimes, a mental health problem may cause you to miss appointments. If this happens while pregnant, it may mean that you miss important health checks which could increase your risk of pregnancy related complications.

The ‘baby blues’ usually happens in the first week after your baby’s birth. It is the result of the normal hormonal changes taking place in your body and affects many new mothers. However, pregnancy and birth can trigger more serious depression in some women, some of these symptoms include:

  • feeling very sad and hopeless
  • negative thoughts about yourself
  • not sleeping well
  • a lack of interest or pleasure in doing things
  • a loss of appetite

It is important to be open about your feelings and make time to relax. If your feelings do persist, speak to your health visitor.

More information on managing mental health issues and who to speak to if you need support, can be found on the NHS Choices website.

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