Emotional Health During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of enormous change

The hormonal changes within your body during pregnancy can trigger different emotions.

  • Emotional changes (like joy, excitement or even fear and panic) are common
  • These changes may be related to the anticipation of parenthood and changing roles and priorities.
  • Expectant partners often experience similar kinds of emotions.

It is also normal for your emotions to be affected by your body’s changing hormonal levels after giving birth.

  • One moment you may be very happy and the next you find yourself in tears
  • It might be difficult to cope with these sudden changes and new stresses
  • Give yourself time to recover and to adjust to your new role.

Prenatal depression and anxiety

While heightened emotions are normal in pregnancy, there may be times when they interfere with your daily life and relationships. Prenatal depression (external link) that is not dealt with can continue on into the postpartum period.

About 10% of pregnant women require some type of assistance for prenatal depression and anxiety. Sometimes symptoms of depression are confused with common pregnancy symptoms.

Depression symptoms may include:

  • inability to concentrate
  • anxiety
  • extreme irritability
  • frequent mood swings
  • sleep problems
  • extreme fatigue
  • persistent sadness
  • a lack of interest in things you used to care about
  • a sense that nothing is fun or enjoyable anymore
  • a dramatic change in appetite (up or down)

Check with your health care provider if you have four or more of these symptoms for at least two weeks, or if any of these symptoms particularly concern you.

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Effects of stress on pregnancy

Pregnancy creates unique stressors for pregnant parents.

  • Short term stress does not cause harm and can be a motivator, boosting energy and dealing with “daily hassles”
  • Long-term stress can have harmful affects on your pregnancy
  • Stress can cause blood vessels to the placenta to constrict, decreasing blood flow and nutrients to the baby
  • Chronic anxiety and worry may increase your chances of preterm labour and low birth weight

Stress Management

Some tips for taking care of your emotional health during pregnancy include:

  • Staying active and eating well.
  • Taking time to relax and rest.
  • Avoiding stressful situations and people.
  • Sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust.
  • Being honest with your health care provider about your feelings throughout your pregnancy.
  • Acknowledge that you are experiencing stress. Take the time to explore and think about your feelings to help keep them from overwhelming you.

Benefits of relaxation

  • Slows your heart rate.
  • Reduces blood pressure.
  • Increases blood flow to your muscles.
  • Decreases muscle tension.

As a result of relaxation, many people experience:

  • More energy.
  • Better sleep.
  • Enhanced immunity.
  • Increased concentration.
  • Better problem-solving abilities.
  • Smoother emotions — less anger, crying, anxiety, frustration.
  • Less headaches and pain
  • Enhanced progress during labour.
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Crisis Help Lines:

  • Telecare Burlington Distress Line
    905-681-1488
  • COAST – Crisis Outreach and Support Team Halton
    Telephone support and mobile intervention for persons who have a mental health crisis/concern
    1-877-825-9011
  • Oakville Distress Centre (external link)
    905-849-4541
  • North Halton Distress Centre
    905-877-1211

Information/Support/Counselling:

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