For many women, pregnancy and the 6 months afterwards can be a uniquely stressful and emotional time, especially if it is their first pregnancy. Traditionally most attention has been directed towards psychological problems after the pregnancy. However, more recently it has been understood that at least 1 in 10 women may have psychological problems during pregnancy. At least 50% of pregnancies are unplanned. Some women are unsupported and have no extended family network. Others may find themselves isolated and far away from friends and family or may have previous history of psychological problems. Anxiety depression and panic attacks are therefore not unusual during the antenatal period.
Fortunately these problems do not affect the growth or development of the baby and do not seem to change the way that the body works in late pregnancy or labour.
However if you do have psychological problems it may make pregnancy seem a lot longer and more difficult than it otherwise would be. All the side effects, discomfort, aches and pains may be much more difficult to tolerate.
If you feel that you may be suffering from any psychological problems whilst you are pregnant you must speak to your midwife or doctor who will advise you on the best course of action to take.
Many women may conceive while they are currently taking various medications for psychological problems. If this is the case then it is important that you get clear advice from your midwife or doctor about the safety of taking these drugs. Many are harmless for the baby but they may sometimes have implications for breastfeeding. As always, expert advice is essential. The potential risks of certain medications have to be weighed against the real benefits obtained and the disruption that may occur from stopping the medication. Most of the drugs currently prescribed for psychological problems are safe in pregnancy although some change in dosage or regime may be appropriate. Once again, expert advice is invaluable.