What Does “Perinatal” Mean?

By Bailey Miller
Reviewed by Alyssa Quimby, M.D.
July 09, 2024

“Perinatal” is used to describe the time period leading up to and immediately following birth. You may have heard people refer to the perinatal period or perinatal mental health.

According to the World Health Organization, the perinatal period spans from approximately 22 weeks of pregnancy to seven days postpartum. Others may use “perinatal” more broadly, describing any time during pregnancy and up to a year after delivery.

The perinatal period is a time where you as a pregnant person or new parent may feel a range of emotions. You may feel excitement and anticipation, but it’s also common to feel stress and the baby blues. During the perinatal period, you may also be at greater risk for perinatal mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, as well as postpartum psychosis.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with perinatal or postpartum mental health, it’s a good idea to seek help from your healthcare provider or a perinatal mental health organization like Postpartum Support International. Getting the proper care for you and your baby will help you both live happier, healthier lives together.