Mind Your Mind Blog – Mental Health During Pregnancy Part 2
Cobb Collaborative is pleased to present a two-part “Mental Health During Pregnancy” blog series from guest blogger, Megan Velarde, Maternal Child Health (MCH) RN. This is part two and the final installation in this series. Click here for the first post.
How can I avoid perinatal depression and anxiety?
Some protective factors can be implemented or made aware of before and during your pregnancy that
can help decrease the odds that you may experience perinatal depression.
- Arm yourself with knowledge. Gain as much knowledge as you can about pregnancy, childbirth, and what to expect throughout your pregnancy so that you can be prepared for your body’s changes during this period. Be on the lookout for any of those signs mentioned above, and have other people within your support system be vigilant as well.
- Maintain a good support system. It’s important to identify and surround yourself with those people that you can depend on throughout your pregnancy. Use them as a listening ear for any concerns you may have, and let them know if you are experiencing any signs of depression. The people closest to you can pick up on any changes you may be experiencing. Spending time with loved ones is also a mood-lifter and can help keep you busy.
- Live a healthy lifestyle. Nourishing our bodies with healthy food choices and using exercise to relieve stress are also important to continue through pregnancy. Not only is it more healthy for your body and your growing baby, it is great for mental health as well. Exercise releases endorphins and reduces stress, and eating healthy gives us fuel for our brains to help us think clearly. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and other drugs.
- Self-care is important. Make time for those things that you enjoy. We often put self-care last behind everyone else, but it is important to bring it to the forefront, especially when pregnancy is already so taxing on our bodies. Take a hot shower, light some candles, and read a good book. Venture outside and enjoy nature. Practicing mindfulness and journaling are also some outlets that can help us practice self-care and get our thoughts straightened out. Yoga, massage, and meditation are also great outlets to explore that are safe and effective for managing stress during pregnancy.
Action plan and resources for anxiety and depression during pregnancy:
- Feel like you’re not yourself
- Have emotions all over the place
- Feel overwhelmed but are able to function normally and care for yourself
You may be experiencing normal mood swings that are expected during pregnancy and these feelings will continue throughout your pregnancy and should taper off after the birth of your baby as your
- Have intense anxiety episodes that come from nowhere
- Have scary or upsetting thoughts that won’t go away
- Have no or little interest in doing things you normally would enjoy
- Have difficulty concentrating on tasks
- Feel intense guilt and anxiety about things you are doing
You may be experiencing perinatal anxiety and/or depression, and these thoughts won’t go away on their own.
- Get help by calling your healthcare provider or visit a clinic.
- Call Postpartum Support International (PSI) at 1-800-944-4PPD (4773) to get access to a volunteer that can provide local resources and support.
- Talk through these feelings with your support system of family and friends so that they can
- Feel total despair and a sense of hopelessness
- See or hear things that other people do not see or hear, or feel out of touch with reality
- Feel like harming yourself
Get help immediately!
- Call or text 9-8-8, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, for free and confidential support – it’s not just for suicide; they can provide access to counselors as well as local resources.
- Call 911 for immediate assistance.
- Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Locator at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) to find mental health professionals in your local area.
Pregnancy Resources Specific to Cobb County
Your local health department, Cobb and Douglas Public Health (CDPH) has a perinatal case management program that is aimed at providing access to Medicaid for pregnant women that meet certain income criteria. They can also connect you to a wide variety of local resources that can help with your journey throughout your pregnancy. Since depression and anxiety are closely linked to life circumstances, getting resources that may help with housing and utility costs and access to nutrition assistance programs, such as WIC and food stamps, can lessen the economic burden and lower the risk of anxiety and depression during pregnancy. You can call 770-514-2471 (English) or 770-514-2367 (Spanish) for more information or visit the Marietta Health Department for prenatal screenings.
Life circumstances definitely play a role in the onset of anxiety and depression during pregnancy, and even afterwards. There are populations within our community that are affected disproportionately to others in regards to economic burden and access to healthcare. In fact, African American women are 3-4 times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth than other races. In order to help address this gap, Cobb and Douglas Public Health has a case management program called Healthy Start that accepts African American women located within certain zip codes throughout Cobb and Douglas counties. With this program, a registered nurse can provide one-on-one support for these women throughout their pregnancy and for a period of time after birth. They provide counseling, education, support groups, and even offer monetary incentives for participation in their programs. They also have a program called Inspiring Fathers that can help anxious new fathers adapt to pregnancy and fatherhood. They can be reached at 770-635-0523.
Thanks to Megan Velarde, Maternal Child Health (MCH) RN, for sharing this informative and resourceful blog series. We look forward to sharing more posts from Megan on our blog in the near future. For additional mental health information and resources, please visit our Mind Your Mind web page.