Mental Health and Wellness in Pregnancy and Parenthood
Pregnancy or having a baby is not always easy. The adjustment to parenthood can be challenging for many families. This can lead to mood changes or even perinatal mood disorders (PMD).
What are the “Baby Blues”?
Baby blues refer to mood changes and overwhelming feelings the mother experiences within the first three to five days after birth. Four in five women may experience baby blues but still enjoy caring for their baby.
Symptoms of baby blues include:
- Crying for no apparent reason
- Feeling irritable or oversensitive
- Feeling a bit anxious
- Lots of mood changes
- Being able to care for self and baby
- Enjoying being a mother most of the time
What is Perinatal Mood Disorder (PMD)
Perinatal Mood Disorder is a group of illnesses such as prenatal anxiety or depression, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety disorders or postpartum psychosis. PMD begins in pregnancy and up to one year after birth or adoption of a baby. It can happen to either parent.
- Depression during pregnancy puts a woman at higher risk of experiencing postpartum depression
- One in five mothers may experience postpartum depression
- Ontario data collected in 2021 tells us that one in three mothers are affected by postpartum mental illness
- One in 10 men may experience depression in the first year postpartum
- Postpartum psychosis is rare and occurs in one to two per 1000 births
How do I know that I need help?
If you are experiencing the following symptoms every day for two weeks or longer, you should talk to a medical professional:
- Appetite changes
- Insomnia (trouble falling or staying asleep)
- Fear or feelings of guilt
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Inability concentrating or in decision making
- Lack of bonding with your baby
- Racing thoughts
- Thoughts or ideas of hurting yourself or baby
Perinatal Mood Disorders are medical conditions and can lead to serious consequences if left unnoticed or untreated. You are not alone. Get help early.
Where can I go for help?
- Talk to your health care provider
- Call a 24-hour crisis line or hotline:
- Community Crisis Response Service: 1-855-310-COPE (2673)
- Text 1-855-310-2673 from 7 a.m. to midnight
- Live chat support 7 a.m. to midnight at cope.yssn.ca
- 211 Ontario: Helpline is answered by real people 24/7
- Service is available in 150+ languages
- Text is available Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Live chat service is available Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Visit 211ontario.ca
- Additional supports:
- York Region Public Health Connection 1-800-361-5653, TTY: 1-866-512-6228 ; eChat: york.ca/nursechat; email: @email
- Transition to Parenting Program: Free, 9-week, group-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Program
- Health Connect (formerly Telehealth Ontario) 811, TTY: 1-866-797-0007
- Connex Ontario 1-866-531-2600, ConnexOntario.ca/chat, Text "CONNEX" to 247247
- York Region offers support for families through the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program
How can I take care of myself?
- Eat a balanced diet
- Rest and take breaks
- Connect with helpful family members/ friends
- Allow yourself to ask for help
- Take time for exercise
- Take moments for yourself
- Self-care plan
Your family benefits when you take care of yourself. Time for yourself will give you more energy and patience to provide loving and responsive care.
How can family and friends help?
- Accept and acknowledge the person’s feelings
- Offer help in house chores or baby care
- Encourage the person to rest or exercise
- Help the person to think positively or focus on positive thoughts
- Provide support in getting assessment and treatment
- Partners may need to be aware of their own feelings and self-care
Your acceptance and support means a lot to the person who is struggling with symptoms of anxiety and depression/or perinatal mood disorders.
New digital service for wellness during pregnancy and early parenthood
Transition to Parenting Program
A FREE, 9-week, group-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) program for pregnant and postpartum individuals with babies up to 18 months of age. It is for mothers who have been feeling one or more of the following: depressed, sad, anxious, worried, angry or overwhelmed.
During this nine-week series, participants will meet in a virtual group setting with a public health nurse and learn skills to help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety by changing thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
- Video: Best Start: Life with a new baby
- A Self-help Skills Resource for Women Living With Depression During Pregnancy, After Delivery and Beyond
- Learn more about the developing brain
- Read more about what shapes our brain