Monday, February 24, 2014

What About Prenatal Depression?

        Morning y’all! I want to talk about something that seems to be swept under the rug, prenatal depression.  Prenatal depression was never mentioned to me through my pregnancy by any doctor or midwife.  I went to the doctor the day my son was born because I hadn’t felt any fetal movement for almost 24 hours, naturally I was a little anxious.  Being sick for 9 months with hyperemisis, little to no sleep and other health issues, 3 weeks away from my due date, you could say I was a little on edge.  I had huge dark circles under my eyes, I was a nervous wreck because no movement was far form the norm for my baby boy, and let’s not forget I had been throwing up everything I ate for 9 months.  I was on the table with my mom in the room getting an exam to see how far dilated I was, and my doctor asks me...”are you depressed?”  Now!? You ask me now when I am 3 weeks away from my due date and have been going through this for 9 months!  Mind you I was high risk so since 16 weeks gestation I had been at the doctor every 2 weeks for my prenatal visits.  Needless to say, I was not happy.  She followed that statement with...”I just want to make sure I am not missing anything.” Depressed I was not, ready for the pregnancy to be over, I was.  I am telling you this because it absolutely floored me that 3 weeks away from my due date after seeing me every 2 weeks for 9 months suffer I was asked this.  I was not upset that I was being asked if I was depressed, I was upset and shocked that I was being asked this so late in the game.  If the doctor wanted to make sure she wasn’t missing anything, she would have asked at the first signs of me seeming off to what she was normally used to, rather than letting it go for 9 months.
I feel it is so important that you be your own advocate and pay close attention to your body.  Talking to your partner about any changes you may be having is really helpful also because an outside perspective can always see things that perhaps you can’t.  There are a few reasons you may be at higher risk for prenatal depression.  It doesn’t necessarily mean you will experience it but some reasons it is a possibility are:
  • complicated pregnancy
-genetic testing
-prior health issue
  • history of depression or anxiety
  • prior miscarriage
  • financial and job concerns
  • relationship problems
  • unplanned pregnancy
If you fit any of the above, you are at risk for prenatal depression.  That is not to say that  you can’t have prenatal depression if these things haven’t happened to you  Also, just because these may describe you doesn’t mean you will have prenatal depression.  Some symptoms to look out for may be:
  • emptiness or sadness
  • irritability
  • lack of sleep
  • too much sleep
  • lack of concentration
  • guilt
  • panic attacks
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms contact your doctor or midwife.  Make sure you talk to them about how you are feeling.  Emotional health is equally as important as your physical health during pregnancy.  Be your own advocate and make sure you express to your doctor or midwife exactly what is going on and how you are feeling.  Depression can be environmental in some cases.  Most of the time it is a biochemical condition so it can be difficult to avoid.  In those instances that the depression is environmental, there are a few ways you can help in preventing prenatal depression, such as:
  • Spend time with your partner
  • Talk to your partner or counselor about any fears or anxiety you may be having
  • Yoga classes or some form of meditation
  • Have a healthy and nutritious diet
  • Try your best to get out of the house
  • Pamper yourself
For women who do have prenatal depression, know you are absolutely not alone.  Make sure you speak to your doctor or midwife right away to work on some ways you can deal with this.  I hope this helps in letting you know it can happen and does for one in eight women.  Stay informed and keep yourself in the loop with what is going on with your own body.

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