I don’t want to admit this but I am not myself lately. I have always been a happy go lucky, outgoing woman but over the past few months I feel different. When I wake up in the morning it’s as if I never went to sleep. I try to take naps in the day but it doesn’t help. When my husband attempts to hug me, I’m just not even interested. I don’t like how any of this feels and I don’t know a way out. After many years of dating and two years of marriage my husband and I decided to try to get pregnant. Pregnancy happened very quickly for us and now we are 20 weeks into it. I love this baby and I love my husband. Therefore, none of this makes sense to me. I feel guilty for feeling this way. What can I do?
Dear Pregnancy Feelings,
There are so many changes going on in your life and with your body that can affect how you feel about yourself and about others. During pregnancy and leading up through childbirth, women often experience changes in their hormones including estrogen and progesterone, which can affect mood. Given the extent of the changes you are feeling, it seems likely that you are experiencing something more than just the typical changes that come with pregnancy. If so, know that you are not alone and you are not the only mother to feel this way. Research suggests that 13-20% of women experience depressive symptoms during pregnancy with approximately 10% meeting full criteria for Major Depression during their pregnancy. You are strong for recognizing these struggles and even stronger for reaching out for help.
The first struggle that you’ll need to overcome is unfairly comparing yourself to other mothers. This is a human tendency that often leaves us feeling inadequate. This seems to be particularly true during pregnancy as other people in your life are that much more interested and tuned into your life and to your body. Just know that pregnancy is no competition and the most important thing here is getting you to a healthy place again.
Given the extent of the changes you are feeling, it seems likely that you are experiencing something more than just the typical changes that come with pregnancy
For first steps, I would start by opening up with your friends and family. Start with whoever you feel the most comfortable and go from there including your husband, parents, friends, etc. Next, I would encourage you to begin looking into professional resources. Know that both talk therapy and medication are effective in treating depression during pregnancy and can be safely used during pregnancy. Often, the negative effects of untreated depression outweigh the possible negatives of seeking treatment.
Lastly, I would ask you to remind yourself that you don’t have to be perfect. No one is perfect and mothers aren’t any different. Reaching out for help now from friends, family, and professionals can help you overcome the struggles you’re having and help you get back to being yourself again.
Dear Pregnancy Feelings,
Pregnancy is a different experience for every woman. Feeling emotions of bliss, excitement, fear, depression and more is a mixture of mental, physical and chemical changes taking place. I’m the first one to admit that while the thought of having children is exciting, the actual process of pregnancy is foreign and scary.
Have you talked to your husband about feeling unhappy? Communicating to trusted loved ones about how you are feeling, gives them insight to be able to help you. Although you may be inclined to withdraw from family and friends, they can be a comforting support system to help you work through this and break the cycle of negative thinking.
Although you may be inclined to withdraw from family and friends, they can be a comforting support system to help you work through this and break the cycle of negative thinking.
Although many of your friends have projected blissful pregnancies, I would be surprised if they had not experienced a variety of feelings along the way and some maybe even similar to yours. If you feel you are communicating and not getting the support you need from family and friends, then I encourage you to seek out support elsewhere. You don’t have to face depression during pregnancy alone. Find a doula or a childbirth education specialist to help you find what you need; a support group or a class or some counseling. There is no need to feel isolated in this journey.