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Emotional health – your feelings and worries

emotion; emotional; worry; worries; depression; depressed; mood; swings; mood-swings; anxiety; antenatal; postnatal;

Contents

Pregnancy will certainly be an interesting 9 months of your life - you may have many reasons for happiness, and usually some extra things to worry about too.

There will be times like feeling your baby move for the first time - an amazing and emotional experience. Babies are born every day but this one is yours!

But pregnancy hormones may make you more emotional than usual, and you may worry about whether your baby will be normal and how you will cope with labour. Many women have feelings like this when they are pregnant. It will help if you can talk openly about any concerns with your partner or a close friend.

How will you feel when you are pregnant?

When you are pregnant, it sometimes feels like the whole world is expecting you to 'glow' with happiness, and you may also think that this is the way you should be feeling.

In reality, you are quite likely to have times when you feel low during your pregnancy, just like any other 9 months of your life. As well as the normal ups and downs of life, your pregnancy will usually give you some extra reasons for many emotions - from joy to misery.

  • The nausea and tiredness that most women feel during the first few months can really wear you out and make you feel miserable.
  • You may also find that you have more mood changes, you cry more, lose your temper more, and become more forgetful.

The pregnancy hormones in your body probably contribute a lot to these feelings. Some of your emotions may also be caused by the realisation that you are going to become a mother. It can be an overwhelming thought at times.

If you start to feel quite emotional and worried, it can really help to talk with your partner or someone else that you are close to.

  • Sometimes, just sharing your feelings can give you a big sense of relief.
  • It's also very important to take good care of yourself. Try to avoid getting overtired and make sure you take regular 'time out' for yourself.

Depression

Although some additional worries and mood-swings are perfectly normal in pregnancy, it is a different matter if you are feeling depressed a lot of the time. If you are feeling depressed, you may cry a lot, feel very confused and alone, not sleep well and be more irritable than usual.

If you are having these types of feelings, it's really important to talk with someone who can help. Try to describe your feelings to your doctor or midwife and explain that you believe your problem is more than a touch of the 'pregnancy miseries'. They may be able to help you talk through your feelings, or refer you to a counsellor, mental health nurse, psychologist or a psychiatrist who can give you more specialised help.

Up to 10% of pregnant women have symptoms of depression - called 'Antenatal depression'. As well as feeling bad, antenatal depression can take a big toll on relationships. The topic 'Postnatal depression' describes feelings that many women also experience before the birth.

Will your baby be normal?

At some time, every parent-in-waiting worries that there may be something wrong with their baby. Usually, these concerns don't last very long. Some couples get through these concerns by discussing them openly and by planning what they would do if they had a baby with special needs.

Women usually have more concerns about their unborn baby, because they feel responsible for their baby's health. If something is wrong, they may feel it will be their fault. If this is how you feel, it is important to remember that while you can increase your baby's chances of being normal and healthy, there is nothing you can do to be certain of it. There are some problems that cannot be prevented. Either the causes are not known, or they are beyond anybody's control.

So, while it is important to do whatever you can to cut down on any risks to your baby, (by not smoking, by healthy eating, and so on), it's important to remember that you can't entirely cut out the risk.

Some women find it very reassuring to know some facts.

  • Of all the babies born in South Australia, more than 95% are normal and healthy.
  • Some may have birthmarks or something small that is wrong, but not something that will have a serious affect on their life. The risk of serious abnormality is very small.
  • Amongst the small percentage of babies that have special needs, some have inherited problems and some problems happen during development before birth.

Good medical and midwifery care during pregnancy can lessen the risk of some of these problems, and also increases the chances of picking them up early so you can make decisions about what happens.

To learn more look at the section Check-ups..

Worrying about labour

When you are pregnant with your first baby, there is no way that you can know what labour is going to feel like. Many women worry about how painful their labour will be and how they will cope with that pain. Nobody can describe a contraction to you - although some will probably try! If you're expecting your second or later baby, your concern may come from having a previous difficult labour.

Remember, every pregnancy and birth is different.

  • If this is your first baby, find out as much as you can about labour. Talk to your doctor or midwife and ask questions about labour and delivery.
  • It can also help to talk to friends who have recently had a baby.
  • Antenatal classes are a great way to learn more about labour and to talk about your concerns with other pregnant women (and often, their partners).
    • If the classes are held at the hospital where you will have your baby, you will also be able to look around the labour wards and get a feeling for the way things happen. This can help to relieve many of your fears.
    • Ask your care provider where you can go for antenatal classes.
  • Share your fears or concerns with your partner or support person - especially if he or she is going to be with you during labour. They may also be worried, and it can help to share your feelings and work out some coping strategies together.

For more information have a look at the section The Birth, including the topic 'Pain relief during labour and birth'.

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see your doctor or midwife.

 

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