Having a baby can be one of life's most exciting and challenging experiences. It can also be a bit of a roller coaster – you'll feel joy, happiness and delight at times, but there may be others when you feel stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed and confused. It's important to keep your emotional health in check throughout the journey.
What is emotional health?
Emotional health is a state of wellbeing. Just as there are many benefits from being physically healthy, you, your partner and your baby can all benefit from being emotionally healthy.
When you feel well and content, you're better able to manage stress, maintain happy relationships, communicate your feelings and really enjoy life with your new baby.
Looking after yourself during pregnancy
Here are some tips to help you look after yourself and your emotions when you’re expecting a baby.
Why are emotional problems common during pregnancy?
The combination of physical, social and emotional changes in pregnancy may, for some people, lead to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
You’re at greater risk if you’ve experienced mental health conditions before, if you don’t have enough support, are a young or single parent, or have been through a tough time. This might include relationship difficulties, problems with conception, abuse or loss.
But mental health conditions can happen to anyone — just like any physical health condition. It’s important to look after yourself and keep an eye out for any changes in your mood, or if you’re finding it difficult to cope with daily life. While ups and downs are part of pregnancy, if you’ve been feeling sad, down, worried or anxious for two weeks or more, it’s time to seek support.
Miscarriage is traumatic for everyone, including parents, family and friends. Some people feel a deep sense of shame, and it’s easy to become isolated if you feel like you can’t talk about your experience with your loved ones. It’s very important to remain connected with your family and community during this especially difficult time. If you were expecting more than one baby, a miscarriage can also complicate the grieving process, particularly if one or more babies survive. The process of grieving may contribute to, or mask, signs of depression.
If you’ve lost a baby, it’s important to keep in touch with health professionals and organisations that provide support for families at this time. Joining a support group of people who’ve been through the same thing can often be a helpful step.
Feeling happy, content and well supported means you’re in the best possible position to be responsive and available to your baby. This helps to develop a strong, secure bond that will ensure your baby continues to develop physically, mentally and emotionally. Good emotional health and communication strengthens your relationships with any older kids and other family members. Focusing on these can also help couples through the challenges of adjusting to a new baby together.
Q & A
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