Maternal Mental Health, Motherhood

Prenatal Depression: It exists, and we need to talk about it

I’d never heard of Prenatal/Antepartum Depression; until I went through it. Post partum depression isnt talked about nearly as much as it should, and I feel educational discussion on antepartum depression and almost non-existent.

According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), between 14-23% of women will struggle with some symptoms of depression during pregnancy

Depression is a mental illness marked by strong negative emotions including sadness, loss of interest, and hopelessness; that interfere with daily life for a prolonged period.

A study of more than 7,000 pregnant women, published in the May 2016 issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, linked antepartum depression to an 82 percent increased risk of extremely premature birth and a 28 percent increased risk of low birth weight.

My experience is something I have only shared with my husband after understanding what it was; and I am willing to share with you all:

My soon to be 11 month old is my rainbow baby. The year of 2017 was a tough year for me and my husband. I was pregnant 3 times. I had a miscarriage at 6 weeks pregnant due to a ruptured cyst that caused the gestational sac to detach from my uterine wall. Seven months later, I had to get methotrexate shots to stop my then 8 week pregnancy because it was ectopic.

I ‘d actually written off babies for a while after these losses; and then got pregnant (essentially “unplanned”) for the 3rd time 2 months later.

This sky rocketed my anxiety; anything pertaining to babies made me cry and I was constantly checking for blood when I went to the bathroom. I spent my first trimester of pregnancy afraid I was going to lose my baby. I cant say I was totally happy; while I was generally excited – I struggled with connecting with my pregnancy. I didnt want to get attached, didnt want to make purchases, but the big “what if” was hanging over my head. I preferred being in my room alot and I just didnt want to be bothered which kicked in mom guilt because I felt I wasnt spending enough time with my then 6 year old.

I silently went through this because I didnt think people would understand; I didnt even understand fully what I was feeling. I also thought people may assume I was being “pregnant-dramatic.”

My second trimester got better, I started making purchases to work on my connection, I was getting out more, and I was relieved when we made it to 20 weeks with a positive anatomy scan.

Fast forward to my third trimester and I found out at 33 weeks my baby flipped to breech presentation. Anything anyone could suggest – I tried. We would be able to momentarily flip her and she would flip back to breech. I even endured the EXCRUTIATING pain of a ECV – a procedure where your doctor manually turns your baby in your stomach. After the third attempt and her flipping back, we scheduled for a c section.

I found my moods to be all over the place. I wanted a water birth, I was terrified of c sections, didnt know to expect and I knew of a relative who’d passed away due to complications after birth. I was lashing out on my supportive husband out of fear and high jacked emotions; and was crying all of the time. I found my excitement to give birth and had turned into ultimate fear. I also experienced weird embarassment. I’d planned to record my natural birth for family and friends to watch in real time, via Birthtube. I felt I was being let down and letting down those who were excited to see me bring my daughter earthside. Not to mention, many natural mamas on social media cruely judged me for scheduling my c section as if I didnt go through hell to exhaust all possible options.

I started googling because I felt like I was going crazy and thats when I came across information on Antepartum depression ; everything made so much sense. I wish I knew what I know now because I could have sought support, and my pregnancy may be have been a bit easier emotionally.

I personally feel info on this should be a part of prenatal care. So many mamas endure things silently or alone due to lack of information. I think it opens to door for transparent conversation if practitioners give information in the beginning instead of assuming if a mama is struggling they will make their needs known. Sometimes the needs are event aware of. In my community depression in general is seldomly talked about, because its seen as a weakness or form of complaining. I know many people who even go by the erroneous mindset that “we dont have time to be depressed.”

Pregnancy should be a joyous, stress free time but all mamas dont get that experience. I think its also a big misconception that pregnancy is always automatically connected to an extremely happy time. Many mamas experience antepartum depression and reduce it to the mood swings of pregnancy (like me).

I look back to my first pregnancy with my oldest and realize I experienced antepartum depression then as well but for different reasons.

If you are expecting; Antepartum depression isnt something to fear but its definitely something to be aware of.

Women who are pregnant are at increased risk for depression.

The Signs:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Loss of interest in activities that you usually enjoy
  • Recurring thoughts of death, suicide, or hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Change in eating habits

What Triggers Antepartum Depression?

  • Relationship problems
  • Family or personal history of depression
  • Infertility treatments
  • Previous pregnancy loss
  • Stressful life events
  • Complications in pregnancy
  • History of abuse or trauma

I think I am depressed, what is my first step?

If you are reading this it describes how you are and have been feeling; contact your provider. Your provider can give you resources and point you in the right direction to get the help you need. Support groups. Private psychotherapy, Light therapy and safe medication for more severe cases are definitely available to give you the help you need. Lifestyle changes such as eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and sleeping at least seven to eight hours per night can also help women struggling with depression. There are foods that are connected to triggering hormonal imbalances.

If you dont feel comfortable talking to your provider, find someone you trust to confide in for help and resources. You never need to suffer in silence.

Find a Pregnancy, Prenatal, Postpartum Therapist

I am thankful that I made it through my pregnancy and now at almost 11 months post partum things are so much better for me. This very information I shared I will definitely keep in my arsenal when we prepare for more children.

6 thoughts on “Prenatal Depression: It exists, and we need to talk about it”

  1. i had no clue about this. You always hear about postpartum. But I am glad you came out on the other end of this journey with a beautiful baby and a testimony.

    Like

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