Mental Health During Pregnancy

Did you know that October is Mental Health Awareness Month? It’s a time when South Africans are encouraged to learn more about mental health. Those facing mental illness are often stigmatised and experience discrimination when people have stereotypical views of mental illness.

Mental health can affect people from all walks of life and may present at different life stages. Pregnancy is one such time. With the number of hormonal changes your body is going through, mood swings may be common. Prolonged feelings of worry may lead to anxiety and depression and should never be dismissed simply as ‘pregnancy hormones’.


If you are feeling anxious or depressed, you may:

  • Worry about the future
  • Fear the unknown
  • Feel concerned that you won’t be a good mother
  • Worry about finances
  • Have concerns about the changing dynamics of your relationship
  • Feel sad or down for weeks or months
  • Feel stressed with home or work related problems

Treatment Guidelines

  • Continue to eat a healthy diet to support your pregnancy. Take the prenatal vitamin tablets as prescribed by your doctor and get enough sleep
  • If you feel anxious or depressed, rather see your doctor and tell him or her how you feel. Don’t wait until after baby is born. The sooner you start treatment, the quicker you will feel better
  • If you’ve had mental health issues before your pregnancy, tell your doctor
  • Take any abuse of drugs or alcohol during pregnancy very seriously – see your doctor immediately if you are currently using these substances. They are harmful to your baby
  • Treatment options vary and if your doctor feels that you do need medication, he or she will make sure it is safe for your baby. Your doctor will prescribe the best treatment for you, keeping your baby’s health and safety as a top priority
  • You may also be advised to see a counsellor or social worker for talk therapy. This can greatly help to ease the concerns you may have
  • Speak to your doctor about starting a safe exercise programme like yoga, swimming or walking. Exercise is good for your physical health during pregnancy and can help to lift your mood
  • Pregnant women with bi-polar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), experience panic attacks or have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) will need continued treatment under the care of a doctor during pregnancy


Photo by Andrea Bertozzini on Unsplash.

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Posted in: Health, Pregnancy
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