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Antenatal Depression

Most of us have heard of post-partum depression. Sometimes called baby blues, this is the depression that can affect women anytime during the first year after their new baby is born. The statistics show that 10-20% of women will experience some form of post-partum depression after their baby is born. Most of these cases are easily controlled by medication that can be prescribed by the mother’s doctor or midwife.

What About Antenatal Depression?
Antenatal depression is less widely known and is depression that some women feel while they are pregnant, and it is more common than we think, but not nearly as common as post-partum depression, and generally not as severe. It can appear during any trimester of the pregnancy and can last until after the baby is born. But what causes it?

Any number of things can contribute to a woman being depressed during pregnancy. Hormones can be a factor, and the pregnancy can often leave her feeling overwhelmed, and unable to handle things. A woman’s current life situation and/or stress level might also be a contributing factor to her depression.

What Are Some Signs of Antenatal Depression?
There are many signs of antenatal depression, so always ask your provider for help in dealing with any problems you may feel you re facing. Some women might find it hard to get excited about their pregnancy and their baby. They might feel disconnected or feel like it is someone else who is having the baby, not them. They may not be able to feel a bond with the baby growing inside of them, even as the baby starts to move and kick.These are all feelings that many women experience, and it is always best to talk about how you are feeling with someone you trust.

Some outward signs that family, friends and co-workers might notice are the mother’s stress level going up, and her lack of patience increasing as well. Small things that used to not bother her may now be causing tears, shouting, or temper tantrums. She may pick fights with her family and friends, she may yell more and get frustrated at her previous children, for things that shouldn’t matter, or become frustrated by things that those around her may not even notice.

How Can You Help?
If you are the mother-to-be, and you experience any od these feelings, you should talk to your doctor, explain what is going on, and ask what can be done about it. There are anti-depressant medications that can be taken while pregnant, which may help reduce your feelings of anxiety.

If you are a family member or friend, try to offer patience and support to the mother as she goes through this. If you aren’t sure she realizes it, ask her how she is feeling and suggest she talks to her doctor. If you attend her appointments with her, casually bring it up as a concern when you both talk with her doctor, and see if they have advice on what can be done. Let the doctor help the mother-to-be, as he or she may offer solutions to help the mother-to-be enjoy the experience of her pregnancy.

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