Emotions and feelings

Several of the women we spoke with said they had worried when they were pregnant but tried to think positively for their baby.

Being pregnant can be a time of mixed feelings and emotions. While you may be happy to be pregnant your emotions can change quickly.

You might be thinking about your growing baby, your family overseas and changes to your life. It may help to talk with your partner or a friend and tell them how you are feeling.

preganancy-and-family-vietnamese

As well as being pregnant you’re a person with your own emotional needs. Don’t feel guilty about taking some time for yourself when you need it.

Make some time to listen to music, meet with a girlfriend or do some exercise; anything that helps you to look after yourself.

Things to try to boost your mood:

  • Go for a walk
  • Call a friend
  • Listen to music
  • Put on an exercise DVD
  • Join a local group activity.

pregnant-mothers

To help you to adapt to your new role as a parent you can read books and articles or look at websites about babies and parenting. It is important to remember though that it is not possible to plan for everything.

There’s no right or wrong way to feel during pregnancy. Your emotions will depend on your situation, although it can be hard to know whether your feelings are within the 'normal' range when you are not under your 'normal' circumstances. Physical changes which occur when you are pregnant can also affect the way you are feeling.

Women experience a range of emotions during pregnancy but if you’re feeling so sad that it’s affecting your eating, sleeping and interest in life, you could have depression.

Antenatal depression is when a woman experiences depression during pregnancy. It can occur at any time during the pregnancy and can be dismissed as ‘hormones’. Some of the symptoms of antenatal depression are similar to normal changes which occur during pregnancy including:

• Tiredness and fatigue
• Trouble sleeping
• Changes in appetite.

Although it can be difficult to speak about how you are feeling, try to talk with your partner or a friend or family member. If you can’t do this you can get information and assistance from:

Women’s Health Queensland Wide provides general advice and information in addition to the Midwife Check-in, a free telephone based service through which women have access to a caring midwife to support you on your journey to be a parent. 

When you are a new mum

As a new mum looking after your baby is likely to be your first priority and at times this might be a little overwhelming. It is still important to look after yourself while you are adapting to the joys and challenges of motherhood.

For women who already have children, balancing your needs with your partner’s needs and other children can be difficult.

You are likely to be happy but tired. It can be difficult to ask for help but try to talk with your partner or friends about how you are feeling.

Antenatal and postnatal depression

Depression and anxiety can happen at any time, but we know women are more likely to experience these conditions during pregnancy and the year following the birth of a baby.

Anxiety is likely to be at least as common as depression during pregnancy and the year following, and many women experience both conditions at the same time.

Depression can start after the birth of a baby; this is called postnatal depression (PND). It is most likely to occur in the first three months following the birth of the baby but can happen up to a year after the baby is born.

Postnatal depression can be confused with the ‘baby blues’ which occur in up to 80% of women but these symptoms including anxiety, feelings of loneliness, irritability and tearfulness usually disappear after a few days.

Women suffering postnatal depression will experience symptoms consistently for a period of two weeks or more and everyday functions such as eating, sleeping and thinking will be affected.

Symptoms experienced by women with antenatal or postnatal depression can vary from person to person. Sometimes the symptoms of severe lack of sleep (sleep deprivation) can be similar to depression.

Symptoms can be both physical and psychological:

Physical

  • Changes in appetite
  • Lack of energy/motivation
  • Exhaustion
  • Headaches
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Sleep disturbances

Psychological

  • Social withdrawal/apathy
  • Loss of confidence
  • Feelings of inadequacy, emptiness, failure as a mother
  • Sadness, tearfulness
  • Irrational fears
  • Feelings of anger, guilt, resentment, shame and irritability
  • Mental confusion, lack of concentration, poor memory
  • Not feeling the way you thought you would towards the baby

If you experience these symptoms for two weeks or longer you should seek help. A good place to start is your family doctor.

Last updated: 20 January 2016

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