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Shake off baby blues & depression

Updated: Apr 25, 2019

Women might experience emotional changes before, during and after pregnancy.

Pregnancy is a special time. But sometimes, instead of excitement and joy, the new mother may struggle with depression. Let's look into the emotional changes experienced in and after pregnancy.

Before Pregnancy

Many women expect to conceive naturally, when she plans to start a family, as will her partner and their family too. This expectation is stressful when conception is difficult. Some women may then choose to conceive by IVF, but this can even be more stressful. On the other hand, some pregnancies may not have been planned.

Some women have some pre-existing psychological problems. This may result in them being susceptible to the stress of pregnancy, and later, motherhood.

Keeping in good spirits and physical health ensure a healthy pregnancy. Eat wisely, avoid alcohol and smoking, exercise, maintain supportive relationships and participate in fulfilling activity. In addition, women and their spouses should prepare mentally for a new baby, and new drastic changes.

During Pregnancy

Most pregnant women describe pregnancy as a glorious time, and glow radiantly, and there is evidence to suggest that pregnancy has a protective effect against psychiatric disorders.

Sometimes, however, the physical and emotional changes are too overwhelming, and professional attention may be necessary when the woman’s emotional well-being is affected. Thinking of the idea that she will soon be fully responsible for another life, and also losing her own freedom can be difficult to accept.

For the pregnant career woman, sometimes it can be difficult when colleagues and family are not understanding and supportive. One in five pregnant women have some depressive symptoms in Singapore.

These include mood swings, anxiety attacks, unusual appetite loss, and even severe morning sickness (otherwise known as hyperemesis), which can sometimes be disabling.

After Pregnancy

Once the baby arrives, many expect the mother to be happy and perfectly at peace with the arrival of the newborn. Also, while the mother was given special attention and care during pregnancy, the focus is now shifted to the newborn and the new mother sometimes feels that she is now the “milking machine” or “nappy changer”. These pressures on the mother can be immense. Her needs are less important, and the needs of the baby come first. If there is inadequate support and help, especially from the family, it may be even hard to adjust to the new changes.

The common postnatal syndromes include postnatal blues, postnatal depression and postnatal psychosis.

The period before, during and after pregnancy can sometimes be burdened with emotional upheavals. With early recognition and treatment, recovery is good. The goal of treatment is to enable the mother to experience the joy of bonding with her baby.

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