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Pregnancy can bring a range of emotions. In fact, may women feel overwhelmed, sad, or anxious at difficult times during their pregnancy and even after the baby is born. For many women, these feelings go away on their own. But for some women, these emotions are more serious and may stay for some time. These feelings are not something you caused by doing or not doing something and they can be treated if you seek help. One in four women experience mental health problems during their pregnancy. Depression and anxiety are the most commonly reported disorders. Depression and anxiety that happen during pregnancy, or anytime during the first year after the birth of your baby, are medical conditions. Women with pre-existing mood disorders have a higher risk of relapsing during pregnancy and after giving birth. 

Peripartum refers to time period shortly before, during, and immediately after giving birth. 

Many women are hesitant to seek help for mood disorders during pregnancy but the consequences of untreated depression are serious for mom and baby. Maternal depression can affect the child’s emotional and intellectual development. Medications (if necessary), support, lifestyle modification and or psychotherapy are very helpful and can prevent serious life-long consequences that arise from untreated maternal depression.

Breastfeeding and Medications

Breastfeeding is an important part of the physical and emotional health of mom and baby. New mothers dealing with mood disorders and mental illness during and after pregnancy need special attention to manage their symptoms without preventing the bonding and attachment benefits from breastfeeding. We know that up to 20 percent of women are affected by mental illness during pregnancy or in the 12 months after giving birth and a significant number of these women may require medications while nursing. 

Having a healthy pregnancy is one of the best ways to promote a healthy birth.

Getting early and regular prenatal care improves the chances of a healthy pregnancy and reduce complications. Additionally, following a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and avoiding exposure to potentially harmful substances such as lead, radiation, tobacco smoke, and alcohol can help reduce the risk of pregnancy and fetus complications. Read more about prenatal care here.


Additional Resources

Exercises Anytime Anywhere Infographic
Exercise and Pregnancy

Courtesy: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Please remember this information is intended for educational purposes only and should not substitute medical advice from a healthcare provider.