What You Should Know About Mental Health and Pregnancy

By Kerry Weiss
Reviewed by Jessie Everts, Ph.D.
February 06, 2023

Your body will change when you are pregnant. That includes things like weight gain, morning sickness, and feeling tired. But being pregnant can also affect your thinking and feelings.

Here is what you should know about mental health and pregnancy.

What Is Mental Health?

Mental health means you think, feel, and act in a healthy way. This is good for you and your baby.

Alyssa Trochtenberg, M.D., says signs of good mental health are:

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Staying active
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Doing things you enjoy
  • Having healthy relationships
  • Feeling happy about the pregnancy
  • Seeing the doctor, talking about your health, and asking questions

Trochtenberg is an ob-gyn at Tufts Medical Center, in Boston.

There are many new things to think about when you are pregnant. You will learn how to talk with your doctor. You will prepare for having a baby. You will prepare for changes to life with your partner or family, says Karen Horst, M.D. Horst teaches at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston. She is also a psychiatrist at Texas Children’s Hospital.

If you are having trouble doing any of this, you may need mental health support.

5 Common Mental Health Struggles in Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a happy time for many people. But it can also be tough. “It can put mental health at risk,” Trochtenberg says.

Some people feel:

  • Depressed
  • Anxious
  • Stressed
  • Moody
  • Upset

Be aware of your mental health and get help if you need it, says Ngina Connors, M.D. She is an ob-gyn at Atrium Health in North Carolina.

Signs You Need More Support

Things like mood swings that come and go are common in pregnancy. If any feelings are getting in the way of your daily life, talk to your doctor, Connors says.

Trochtenberg says that includes:

  • Sadness
  • Extreme worry
  • Scary thoughts
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Not wanting to eat
  • Not liking to do things you used to like to do
  • Not being able to focus at work or school

“Don’t just suck it up,” Horst says. Some people feel shame that they are not happy. But this happens to many people. Talking to others about your feelings can help.

Talk to your doctor. They can help you get the support you need. That may include therapy or medication. It can also include asking friends or family members for support. Try healthy things to help with stress, like meditation.

Call your doctor right away if you feel hopeless or worthless. If you think about self-harm, death, or dying, talk to someone right away, Trochtenberg says. Do not wait.

Other Ways to Find Support

Caring for your mental health is good for you and for your baby. Here are some more places you can go for care and support:

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