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 Mental Illness (PMI)?
Perinatal Mental Illness is a group of illnesses such as prenatal anxiety or depression, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety disorders or postpartum psychosis. PMI 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
- 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, you should talk to a medical professional:
- Appetite changes
- 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 mental illnesses 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)
- Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000
- Ontario Mental Health Helpline: 1-866-531-2600
- 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 perinatal mental illnesses.
- 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