Why Aren’t We Having These Conversations With Pregnant Women?
How often have you had a conversation with a mum-to-be, about her emotional wellbeing?
Or, if you’re pregnant yourself, how much care have you received for your emotional and mental wellbeing?
How often have the words anxiety, depression, panic attacks, intrusive or unwanted thoughts, mood swings, anger or sadness come up in conversation during this time?
For most women, I dare say, not very often.
But the truth is, MANY women are experiencing these thoughts and feelings.
And the fact that we aren’t talking about it, will not make it go away. This will not help pregnant women today, tomorrow or in a couple of years time.
According to PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia), up to 1 in 10 women struggle with antenatal anxiety and /or depression. These are the figures from women who have reported feeling this way. I suspect the real statistics are higher.
Let’s not ignore this any longer.
To be honest with you, I don’t really know why more people (particularly OB/GYN’s, midwives, doctors and nurses) are not having these conversations with their patients or loved ones.
We’re generally a little better at screening for these issues once a woman has given birth – but we still have a long way to go.
I assume stigma around mental health is a part of this. And perhaps, as a society, we are oh-so-good at celebrating a woman’s pregnancy and transition into motherhood – that we peer through rose-coloured glasses for nine long months – assuming she’s in pre-baby bliss. Perhaps she is – but she may not be (well not all the time, anyway).
Pregnancy isn’t all about buying cute baby clothes and setting up a nursery. It’s not all about the excitement of planning a baby shower, and choosing a name (although these things can be wonderful and exciting!).
Preparing to give birth, is a huge time of transition – she is becoming a Mother. Her partner is becoming a Parent too. They’re lives will change. A mother’s attitude to work may change, her friendships may change, and her body will absolutely change too.
All of this takes physical, emotional, psychological, financial and relational adjustment. And sometimes, grieving is a part of this process. Because things are changing – and for some women, certain parts of their life may feel like they’re ending. And this is okay, and perfectly fine to feel these things if this resonates with you.
But again, I don’t hear too many people talking about this.
Many women struggle throughout their pregnancies – whether it’s physically, in the form of ‘morning sickness’, muscle aches and pains, nausea (and this in itself can be really horrible for many women) – or emotionally and mentally; anxiety, depression or other mood issues.
And the unfortunate truth is – you may never know that someone is going through this, unless you start asking those close to you how they’re really coping during their pregnancy.
There is always support available. Always. So, please reach out if you need someone to talk to.
Because seeking help will lead to a faster recovery – for mother, baby and her family.
Wendy Gilroy is a Mother of 2, and a professional Counsellor for women. Wendy has a degree in Psychology, a Masters degree in Addiction Studies, and a Diploma of Counselling. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and offers secure ONLINE counselling for women around the world, as well as telephone, face-to-face and home visit services for mums.
Disclaimer: This is for information purposes only. If you have any concerns about your physical or mental health, please consult your healthcare practitioner for medical advice.