Self-care tips on how to deal with prenatal anxiety and depression

Becoming pregnant can make you feel so many different emotions. From feeling overwhelmed with excitement to having moments of fear, all of these feelings are normal and many mums-to-be feel the exact same way. 

Experiencing anxiety is another emotion that is not often spoken about even though many pregnant women feel it as they enter into motherhood. Sometimes, these thoughts can become severe and lead to prenatal depression. 

Research suggests that about 7% of pregnant women experience depression during pregnancy.

If you’re suffering from prenatal depression, it can have a big impact on your life, including making you worry even more, start unhealthy eating habits or result in poor prenatal care. These are just some of the reasons as to why it’s so important to seek treatment early-on in order to avoid the development of postpartum depression.

UK baby brand Nuby has created a helpful list of top tips for coping with prenatal anxiety and depression to help you find your inner peace and balance.

Take your time

As you prepare for your little one’s arrival, the anxiety about your preparedness increases. You want to have everything ready for when your little one enters your home and you’re probably spending endless amounts of time planning every single detail. But the truth is, you don’t have to get everything done all at once. As long as you have your newborn essentials sorted, the rest can wait. You will find that once your baby is here, you won’t have time to worry about having the latest baby gadget on the market or having not read that one parenting book. Focus on what’s important – your prenatal care – and let go of the idea that you need to have everything done today.

Ensure adequate sleep

It is so important to get adequate sleep during pregnancy, especially if you’re suffering from prenatal anxiety or depression. Lack of sufficient sleep can worsen your depression symptoms, and it has a direct effect on your mood too. Sleep disruptions affect the function of the neurotransmitter serotonin and can contribute to the development of depression.

A good rest during pregnancy will prepare you for labour and for many sleepless nights after your baby is born, so make the most of it while you can! Turn your sleep routine into a ritual that you will look forward to. A pregnancy pillow can make your sleep more comfortable, while a soothing bath and a massage from your partner can help you drift off to sleep faster. And make sure to take daytime naps when you need them.

Practise mindfulness

Anxiety is nothing more but a projection of negative thought patterns that are playing with our mind, emotions, and behaviour. To calm our mind, we need to calm our worries. Mindfulness comes to rescue to enlighten the path of calm, joy, and alignment. Research by Leonardo Lucena et al. shows that pregnant women suffering from prenatal anxiety or depression had signs of improvement due to mindfulness and emotional regulation.

Mindfulness can take many forms from breathing techniques to meditation. It helps us recognise our negative thought patterns and replace them with more positive ones, helping us to calm our mind. It has a positive effect on your baby too. Mindfulness meditation has the potential to decrease the production of the stress hormone (cortisol) and increase the production of the pleasure hormone (endorphins). Endorphins have a pain-relieving effect and through the connection with the placenta, they can calm the baby and reassure it of its safety, thus helping with childbirth.

Stay physically active

Contrary to what some people might think, staying physically active while pregnant is recommended by the NHS. It’s best to consult yourself with your healthcare practitioner beforehand, but generally, mild exercises are safe to perform. Pregnancy yoga, for example, fuses flexibility with breathing techniques and mindfulness to help you calm your mind and restore your prana. Prenatal yoga can not only reduce symptoms of stress and depression, but it can also increase blood flow, which is healthy for your baby, and also improve your labour experience. 

Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet will promote both yours and your baby’s health and will help you alleviate some of the depression symptoms. There is a strong link between diet and depression. Poor diet can cause depression and vice versa, depression can lead to unhealthy eating habits. It all comes down to the neurochemicals in our brain, such as serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

Neurochemicals are produced by the body through the foods we consume, and low levels of them can lead to depression. A healthy diet for prenatal depression comprises protein, complex carbohydrates, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. The NHS recommends eating lots of fruits, vegetables, fish, beans, and eggs during pregnancy.

If you’re struck by the pregnancy blues leading to depression, there is nothing to worry about. Pregnancy and childbirth are emotional events, and you’re allowed to have all sorts of feelings. If your feelings of anxiety and depression are more than just passing moments, it’s recommended that you seek advice from your doctor or midwife. The important thing is to take care of yourself and your baby, and everything will work out just fine.

Source: Nuby