Can stress and depression during pregnancy harm your child? An expert weighs in

Do you know that if you are stressed and battling depression during pregnancy, it can harm your unborn baby? Read on to know more about it.

sympathetic pregnancy
Seeing the mom in stress is the reason for sympathetic pregnancy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Thejaswini J Published on: 30 November 2022, 12:39 pm IST
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Depression can affect the way we think and feel and it has become a very common condition. Over 6 per cent of women will experience this condition at least once in their lives. And 1 in every 10 pregnant women suffers from depression. During pregnancy, hormones fluctuate and this change can lead to changes in brain chemicals which can make you feel unstable emotions thus, pregnant women are more vulnerable to depression. In many cases, women don’t even know if they are depressed and just treat it as something that comes along with pregnancy.

Are you worried that your mental health will affect your child? Well yes, but the good thing is that depression is treatable, you just need to look for the symptoms and ask for help.

What are the signs of depression?

Depression can come slowly and the symptoms may differ from person to person. It can be mild, moderate, or severe depending upon the case. When stress can heal in the short term, depression happens because of prolonged sadness.

Some of the most common signs of depression include:

1. Changed appetite: It can change your eating patterns. You will either start eating too much or too little.
2. Changed sleeping patterns: People with depression struggle with having a healthy sleeping schedule. They either have trouble sleeping or sleep too much.
3. Lack of energy: You will feel as if you are lacking mental and physical energy. You will often find yourself exhausted after simple tasks.
4. Feeling low: We all feel low at different points but this feeling has to heal with time. If the feelings of sadness or hopelessness don’t seem to go away, then it can be a sign of depression.
5. Loss of interest: You don’t feel like doing things you once enjoyed.

depression during pregnancy
Ensure that your mental health is at place for a healthy child. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How can depression and stress affect your unborn baby?

Suffering from depression while pregnant can lead to pregnancy complications such as:

  • Preterm delivery can also affect the health of your baby.
  • Low birth weight
  • If you are depressed during pregnancy then, you won’t be able to take proper care of your body which will negatively impact the growth of your baby.
  • It can also lead to miscarriage

If depression during pregnancy is left untreated, then it can turn into postpartum depression which continues after the birth of the baby, and in most cases, it is confused with baby blues.

A lot of women think taking antidepressants is the way out of it. But you should remember that such conditions should not be self-diagnosed and treated, as they can have negative effects on you and your baby. Talk to your doctor about having medications and follow the trusted guidance.

depression during pregnancy
Don’t shy away from taking help if you’re dealing with depression. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Some newborns can show symptoms such as fast breathing, tremors, irritability, and poor eating habits if the mother has taken antidepressants during pregnancy. However, these conditions are mild and start to go away in a few weeks. In some rare cases, serious problems like heart complications and severe breathing issues can happen.

Takeaway

Stress and depression can have negative impact on the growth of your baby. Your mind too needs special care along with your body during pregnancy. Most mothers recover from depression even without taking antidepressants. Finding support groups or individual therapy is the best way out there to find a cure for your unstable emotions. If you are concerned about the health of your baby, talk to your healthcare provider about it.

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About the Author
Dr Thejaswini J Dr Thejaswini J

Dr. Thejaswini J is a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist at motherhood hospital electronic city, Bangalore.

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