Pregnancy plays out differently for everyone, regardless of whether it’s a planned pregnancy or not. Antepartum depression should be advocated for and talked about more often. Antepartum depression is not just the hormones.
Speaking in regards to my pregnancy in 2019 I was in a very low state of mind, my significant other and I were separating. Alone in an apartment, I could barely afford I took a pregnancy test and sure enough two faint pink lines appeared. I went into a state of numbness, I couldn’t process how far along I was or the fact that it was real.
A back story about myself is I had a 3-year-old son at this time and had recently begun working as a technician for The Birth Center. I saw pregnant patients daily, babies in and out of the center, and LOVED it! The pregnancy was never the problem my situation was. If someone were to tell me I would be where I am now then, I would laugh with tears.
I ignored my pregnancy for as long as I could, I pushed my prenatal care too far and regret that now. I felt alone even though I was not alone. My problem was I never let anyone know how deep my antepartum depression was. (Please if you are in this state of mind tell your midwife, your sister, your mother, your partner, tell someone, anyone.) I finally made my first prenatal appointment, that first sound of a heartbeat calmed my soul, I can still feel that connection today.
My co-workers created a gender reveal for me, it was a boy. Man did I cry my eyes out not because it was a boy, but because it was real now I had another baby boy I had to be better for, I had to work harder for. That’s when the mom’s guilt hit. The feeling of not being enough for my first, how would I be enough for the second. How do you love your second as deep as your first? Yes, these thoughts flew through my head, over, and over.
If I had to tell you anything is feel your feelings, cry them out, yell if you need to. Now pull yourself together and know you will be enough because you have been enough. All these feelings and emotions I felt, the burden of being so depressed during my pregnancy lifted the second I heard that sweet cry. I no longer was afraid of not being enough for him, I automatically became enough for him. His fingers wrapped around my finger, his skin on my skin. Suddenly he was my serenity.
Antepartum depression is real, it’s an emotional rollercoaster. Know you are never alone. You will be one strong mother. Speak up, always speak up, advocate for your emotions, someone is always there to listen.
Signs and symptoms of Antepartum depression:
- Persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once enjoyable
- Feeling hopeless, worthless, helpless, or guilty
- Frequently feeling irritated, anxious, frustrated, or angry
Complications of Depression During Pregnancy
Depressed pregnant women are more likely to develop pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) than pregnant women who are not depressed.
Women with antepartum depression are also at higher risk of developing postpartum depression.
Left untreated, antepartum depression poses a health risk to the pregnant woman as well as the infant by increasing the risk of:
- Complications with pregnancy or delivery
- Delivering a low-birth-weight baby
- Prematurely giving birth
Active treatments for Antepartum depression:
- Support groups
- Counseling or therapy
- Morning light therapy
- Meditations and affirmations
- Prenatal yoga/ other healthy prenatal activities in group settings.
- Take time for yourself
Talk to your Midwife if you start to feel run down with emotions, uneasy, or not yourself. Advocate for your well-being.