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Mental health in pregnancy

Woman looking sad

Mixed feelings and emotions are common during pregnancy. While it can be a time of joy, it can also be a time of anxiety for some women, whether a pregnancy is planned or unplanned.

A common feeling is worry about the changes and challenges that pregnancy and parenting will bring.

It is also common to experience mood swings, but things that might be helpful include walking, yoga, swimming, eating a healthy diet, aiming to get enough sleep, and connecting with supportive family and friends.

Sometimes emotions turn into something more serious and start to have a negative effect on everyday living and relationships with partners and families. Approximately one in ten women will experience this type of anxiety and/or depression during pregnancy. Depression can be described as feeling sad or down, while anxiety is often described as worrying about things that might happen.

Some women may have had these feelings before the pregnancy but others may be experiencing them for the first time.

Whatever the situation, it is important to talk to someone you trust if you are feeling sad, scared, low, anxious or worried. Let your midwife know how you are feeling and she will listen to your concerns, answer your questions and refer you for further support if necessary.

Support groups and a range of other services are available throughout the country. A useful resource is the Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Aotearoa (PADA) website. It has information for pregnant women, new mothers, new fathers and families affected by depression or anxiety around pregnancy and a new baby. It also has a comprehensive list of support helplines and services.

If there is an immediate life-threatening danger to yourself or others, dial 111.