Perinatal Mental Health

Perinatal Means the time from conception through baby’s first year. Here are some examples of perinatal conditions, their signs and symptoms.

Perinatal or Postpartum Anxiety, Depression, OCD or Psychosis

Postpartum Anxiety, Postpartum OCD and Postpartum Psychosis are conditions that have less information on them in the general public, but are symptoms that some mother’s experience. These are all conditions that can occur during pregnancy and/or after baby is born. 

Those who have mental health illness prior to pregnancy are at higher risk of developing these conditions. Medication and therapy can be helpful during pregnancy and after birth. Fathers can also experience postpartum symptoms as well.

Symptoms to look for include:
Feeling sad or depressed
Difficulty bonding with your baby
Feel anxious or panicky
Having problems eating or sleeping
Thoughts that are so upsetting that you cannot stop
Feel like “you are out of control”
Feel like you should never have been a parent or should not be a parent
Nervous that you may hurt your baby or yourself.

Infertility

Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system that impairs the body’s ability to perform the basic function of reproduction and it affects both men and women equally. Seeking mental health services can help individuals and/ or couples learn how to cope with the physical and emotional changes associated with infertility. Therapists can walk alongside an individual or a couples’ journey through the intense and often painful medical treatments associated with IUI OR IVF. Couples may not be on the same page as to what to do, and this can cause anxiety, depression and stress. Grief is another part of infertility and comes in many forms, from loss as to how the couple or individual expected the process to parenthood would go, or to losing a baby(ies) at any stage in the process.
Infertility can be a cause of increased anxiety, depression, marital issues, stress and grief.

Hyperemesis Gravidarium (Pregnancy Complication) Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a pregnancy complication that causes severe nausea, dehydration, excessive vomiting and retching. It can cause the mother to lose weight, become malnourished and can affect the nutrients the baby needs to survive. Most women need to be on several medications to get through the pregnancy, but not all obgyns are familiar with this rare complication and/ or do not have enough knowledge of what medications can help. Not only are the health concerns an issue, but the lack of support and knowledge in the medical community and the world at large can cause isolation, depression, anxiety. Not only does the mother have to physically recover, but psychologically it can take a toll on her, her spouse and family. Many women are hospitalized or go for IV treatments or have home health to survive and this can put a toll on jobs, finances, marriages, etc. After having the baby, there maybe medical issues that both mother and baby may have to navigate through. Women who are suffering with HG or have survived HG are at a higher risk for perinatal or postpartum mental health conditions.

Birth Trauma

Birth trauma is stress experienced by mom or baby during or right after birth. It can be psychological or physical or both.
Some examples are:

NICU stays
Emergency Surgeries for mom or baby
Discrimination at hospitals
Poor health care
Going from a birth plan to a c- section surgery due to complications
Women who experienced a previous birth trauma
Women who were sexually assaulted

Any of these traumas cause a higher risk for peripartum mental health conditions, including posttraumatic stress disorder. If you had any of these complications seek out support, you are not alone.

When trying to become a parent, or becoming a parent, there are many factors that can complicate the process and sometimes it is not as easy as TV, movies and social media make it appear. Therapy and medication can be helpful if you or someone you love is experiencing anyone of these challenges.

For more information and extra support on these conditions:
Postpartum.net
HELPHER.org
Reproductivefacts.org