Emotional changes and mental health during pregnancy and after birth
Pregnancy, giving birth and becoming a parent are some of the most significant life transitions that you will experience. This is not only the case with your first pregnancy or when you have your first baby – having a second or subsequent child is also a major change for the family. There are many pressures on parents. It’s common to feel that you don’t live up to your own or others’ expectations of the ‘perfect’ parent. Everyone needs support and help from those around them at this very important stage of life.
Being a parent can be the toughest and most satisfying experience in equal measure. It is common to experience a wide range of emotions during pregnancy and the first postnatal year (known as the perinatal period). Sometimes you may feel happy and excited. At other times you may feel worried, anxious, overwhelmed or negative. Many different factors can affect how you feel, including:
- Previous or current stressful events in your life
- Your own experience of childhood and relationships with your parents
- The support that you have from family and friends
- Complications in your current or previous pregnancy
- A traumatic birth experience
- Your physical health
As many as 1 in 5 women (20%) experience mental health issues in pregnancy or after birth. The most common mental health issues that are experienced during pregnancy or after birth are depression and anxiety. These conditions affect 10 to 15 in every 100 women (15%). Partners and fathers can also have mental health problems at this time.
It’s equally as important to have the right treatment for mental health conditions as it is to receive treatment for physical health problems during pregnancy and the postnatal period. This will help you to stay as well as possible and enjoy family life. Priory’s nationwide network of hospitals and wellbeing centres offer specialist treatment for depression in pregnancy (antenatal depression) and in the first year after birth (postnatal depression). This is delivered by highly experienced consultant psychiatrists and therapists.
Priory's Perinatal Wellbeing Service
The Perinatal Wellbeing Service at Priory Wellbeing Centre Harley Street offers specialist psychological and psychiatric care, treatment, support and advice, for parents with a wide range of mental health issues who are planning a pregnancy, are already pregnant, in the postnatal period, and beyond. A wide range of specialist treatment is available including relationship-based treatments and advice about using psychiatric medication in pregnancy and breastfeeding. We are also able to provide support for antenatal and postnatal depression across our national network of specialist hospitals and wellbeing centres.
This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Lucinda Green (BA, MBBS, MA, MRCPsych, MSc, CCST) in August 2018, and is scheduled to be reviewed again in August 2020. To view all Priory perinatal depression specialists, please click here.