Understanding How Maternal Mental Health Affects Pregnancy

What is the importance of mental health during pregnancy? What are the psychological effects of pregnancy? How to overcome it? 

Answering your questions about how mental health affects pregnancy, this blog will help you develop an understanding of different aspects of pregnancy and mental health. 

Pregnancy is generally a time of joy and happiness. It is the excitement to have a new person in your life. The emotions of being a mother and the happy and joyous feeling of bringing a new life into this world are the common feelings one might undergo during pregnancy. 

But all the emotions that you experience during pregnancy are not pleasant. 

It is normal that with pregnancy, one might have worry and fear as it is a life-changing event. It comes with a lot of responsibilities and hardships. So pregnancy can generate mixed feelings. 

pregnancy and mental health

Hormones are also contributing factors to mood changes during pregnancy. They can either make your mood good or bad. In all of this, there’s an increased chance of developing mental health issues. Researchers state that poor maternal mental health in pregnancy can also affect the baby in the womb. If you are constantly worrying and feeling anxious, affecting your physical health and life, you should seek help. 

About 20% of pregnant women experience depression, anxiety, and postpartum psychiatric disorders. You don’t need to worry. You can find help and work towards achieving good mental health in various places. 

Let’s understand how pregnancy and mental health are interlinked. 

Pregnancy and mental health

Pregnancy is a life-changing event, so our mood and mental health might be affected. It is normal to feel worried and anxious due to all these changes. 

You may have negative thoughts or even feel sad and frustrated while pregnant. It can sometimes be challenging to handle pregnancy’s adjustments and uncertainties. Several factors can influence how you feel during pregnancy. Your body undergoes a variety of changes throughout pregnancy. 

The realities of pregnancy include morning sickness, backaches, headaches, leg cramps, varicose veins, itching, constipation, hemorrhoids, indigestion, and vaginal discharge. Naturally, they can also impact how you feel about being pregnant.

Many reasons cause worry during pregnancies, like the sudden role change, and becoming a mother can be overwhelming at first. Changes in relationships with people in your life, the fear of becoming a bad parent or failing to give a good life to the baby, fear of complications in pregnancy, changes in physical health, and some cases, the fear of being alone or not getting the required support; may lead to mental health problems or issues. But don’t worry; we are here to explain everything about pregnancy and mental health. 

mental Health affects pregnancy
Mental Health Affects Pregnancy

What are the psychological effects of pregnancy?

The first few weeks and months of pregnancy are a time of substantial psychological changes. 

These psychological changes during pregnancy affect parent-infant connection, self-identity, couple relationships, and parenting readiness and adaptation. A pregnant woman’s psychological condition is dynamic and shifts throughout each trimester.

Understanding the psychological changes occurring during this crucial time is key. Additionally, this would aid in identifying and treating any mental health issues early. Psychological changes can occasionally cause a lot of stress as well. Some of the common psychological effects of pregnancy are: 

1. Increased Anxiety

The changes in hormones due to pregnancy can alter the chemicals in your brain. This causes anxiety. Everything that causes you stress is out of your control and could worsen. This may be entirely new for you, but some fear is normal. However, anxiety sets in if those thoughts interfere with your normal activities.

2. Sudden mood swings 

Unstable fluctuations in your hormone levels primarily cause mood swings. It’s possible that one minute you’re thrilled, and the next you’re anxious. It is normal to go through numerous emotional peaks and valleys now.

3. Decrease in memory 

The cognition of a pregnant woman changes. It is normal to lose focus when going through a lot of change. Even though you’re an excellent multitasker and organizer, you could need help remembering tiny details. But it’s only a matter of time.

4. Body dysmorphia

Gaining the proper amount of weight is essential for your baby’s health, but it also affects your appearance. You can be concerned about your appearance, stretch marks, acne, etc. You feel unattractive and gloomy as a result of your bodily alteration.

While some women enjoy every aspect of pregnancy, others do not. Don’t be hard on yourself. Discuss your feelings and worries with a trusted person, such as your physician or midwife. You might find a lot of comfort in it. You might pick up some helpful insights on handling the circumstance better.

5. Stress

Major role changes like pregnancy can be stressful. A pregnant woman’s capacity to make decisions may be impacted by the stress she experiences. The discomfort she might experience could increase the tension she already feels. Determine whether the woman is in an abusive relationship, which could worsen her stress.

6. Exhaustion 

During pregnancy, our typical sleep patterns can be affected by backaches, leg cramps, and the sensation that our organs are shuffled. It can be enough to keep you awake at night for hours in bed as you think over whether side to sleep on or not. This sleep disruption frequently results in weariness during the day, making some people dread going to work or looking after older children.

Other psychiatric medications are also available.

Under the supervision of a doctor, mood stabilizers and some antipsychotic drugs may be safe to take during pregnancy. On the other hand, Valproic acid is a mood stabilizer that pregnant women should avoid (Depakene). It’s linked to a substantially increased chance of birth abnormalities.

During their reproductive years, doctors frequently prescribe alternatives to this medicine to women with unexpected pregnancies.

What are postpartum psychiatric disorders?

Approximately 85% of women have some sort of mood instability postpartum. Most people only experience moderate and transient symptoms; 10 to 15% of women experience more severe depressive or anxiety symptoms. 

There are three types of postpartum psychiatric disorders: 

1. Postpartum blues

The first and the most common postpartum psychiatric disorders mothers are likely to undergo is postpartum blues. Between 50 and 85% of new mothers experience postpartum blues in the initial weeks following delivery. 

Women with the blues more frequently express emotional instability, tearfulness, anxiety, or anger instead of sadness. Usually peaking on the fourth or fifth day after delivery, these symptoms can linger for a few hours or a few days until going away on their own two weeks following delivery. 

Although no specific therapy is necessary, it should be emphasized that the blues can occasionally signal the onset of a more severe mood illness, especially in women with a history of depression. To rule out a more serious mood illness, the patient should be assessed if depressive symptoms last more than two weeks.

2. Postpartum Depression 

It usually appears during the first two to three months after giving birth, although it can happen anytime. Some pregnant women report experiencing milder depressive symptoms for the first time. Clinically, postpartum depression is identical to depression that a woman has at other points in her life.

Unhappy or depressed mood, loss of enthusiasm for routine activities, constant guilty feelings, feelings of worthlessness or utter incompetence, fatigue, disruption in sleep, modified appetite, ineffective focus, or suicidal thoughts are some of the symptoms of postpartum depression. 

3. Postpartum Psychosis 

The most severe type of postpartum psychiatric disease is postpartum psychosis. It is a rare occurrence that happens to 1 to 2 women out of every 1000 after giving birth. It frequently presents dramatically, with symptoms beginning as soon as the first 48 to 72 hours following delivery. Most women who experience puerperal psychosis show symptoms in the first two weeks after giving birth.

Postpartum psychosis appears to be a bipolar disease episode in most cases; the signs and symptoms of puerperal psychosis most closely match those of a quickly progressing manic (or mixed) episode. The first symptoms are sleeplessness, irritability, and restlessness. Women with this illness display irregular or chaotic conduct, a fast-changing melancholy or joyful mood, and bewilderment or disorientation.

Delusional beliefs are frequent and frequently revolve around the baby. Also possible are auditory hallucinations instructing the woman to harm herself or the baby. Both infanticide and suicide risk are elevated in this demographic.

How mental health affects pregnancy? 

Depression, anxiety, or stress can negatively affect maternal mental health during pregnancy. They could neglect their own needs or indulge in drug and alcohol use while pregnant. These can all be harmful to a developing infant. These are some of the cases on how mental health affects pregnancy: 

1. Active Amylgada 

According to studies, infants exposed to more stress hormones as they develop are more likely to have a highly active amygdala. They, therefore, experience increased anxiousness.

2. Decreased activity 

Babies of pregnant mothers with depression exhibited decreased brain activity in the areas of the brain that regulate emotions.

3. Decreased growth 

Mothers undergoing depression or other mental health disorders may not take proper care of themselves or have a good diet, which can lead to a lack of proper growth. 

What are the ways to enhance mental health during pregnancy?

If you are experiencing mental health issues during your pregnancy, here are some ways to help you lift your mind and make you feel good. 

1. Making friends with other new or pregnant parents can make you feel less alone during your pregnancy. Nowadays, meeting in person is more complex, but you can still discover a community online.

2. Communicate your feelings to trusted people to remind them of their support and love.

3. Increased endorphins, better sleep, and maintaining a healthy weight are advantages of staying active throughout pregnancy.

4. While occasionally giving in to cravings is acceptable, keep a regular eating schedule and choose nutritious food selections. Try eating more frequently in smaller portions to combat hunger and morning sickness. Concentrate on taking prenatal vitamins along with nutritious grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats like nuts and olive oil.

5. Sleep is crucial for balancing your human growth hormone, which impacts your kid’s healthy growth.

6. Set aside time each day to care for yourself, even for only 15 minutes.

Is it safe to take psychiatric medications while pregnant?

It is advised that psychiatric medication should not be taken during pregnancy, but no studies prove that it harms the baby. Consulting a doctor and planning out the medication is recommended. Mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications may be safe during pregnancy and help reduce the psychological effects of pregnancy when taken under a doctor’s care. 


The mental health of pregnant women should not be neglected. Understanding how mental health affects pregnancy will prevent the symptoms from getting worse. Pregnancy is a significant life-changing event for a person’s life. It is normal to feel overwhelmed by all the changes and feel tired. Understanding how mental health affects pregnancy can be challenging. 

Keeping a check on your mental health is what needs to be done. You can care for your baby properly if your mental health is good. Your baby will develop better if you feel good, eat well, and sleep well.

Being a mother is a challenging role. It requires a lot of patience, endurance, hard work, and effort. It can get exhausting sometimes. Learning about how mental health affects pregnancy is essential for a mother. Ignoring the signs and symptoms of poor mental health can worsen with time. Engaging in self-care activities and caring for your mental health will help you be there for your baby. To know more, click here.  

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  1. This is such a good reminder about the importance of intentionally taking care of our mental health all the time! If we work now to build coping skills, we will be prepared for pregnancy and maintaining positive mental health throughout! Great post 🙂

  2. Well I truly enjoyed studying it. This subject procured by you is very helpful for correct planning.

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