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Mental health in pregnancy

Being pregnant is a big life event and it is natural to feel a lot of different emotions. But if you’re feeling sad and it’s starting to affect your life, there are things you can try that may help.

You are not alone

Support is available. If you need someone to talk to now contact your maternity unit or find out where to get urgent help for mental health.

Things you can try to help with your mental health

Do

Don’t

  • do not compare yourself to other pregnant people – everyone experiences pregnancy in different ways

  • do not be afraid to tell healthcare professionals how you are feeling – they are there to listen and support you

  • do not use alcohol, cigarettes or drugs to try and feel better – these can make you feel worse and affect your baby’s growth and wellbeing

Apps

You may find that some apps can help your mental health. The NHS Apps library has pregnancy and baby apps and mental health apps.

Non-urgent advice: Speak to your midwife or a doctor if:

  • things you’re trying yourself are not helping

They will offer you more support. They may offer you a referral to perinatal mental health services or other emotional support. Perinatal means the time you are pregnant and up to 12 months after giving birth.

Treatment

The 2 types of treatment for mental health problems in pregnancy are talking therapies and medicine.

Talking therapies can help with common mental health problems like stress, anxiety and depression.

If you decide to take medicine while you are pregnant your doctor will explain how this may affect your baby. Try not to worry – you will be offered the safest medicine at the lowest amount that will still work.

Mental health problems

There are many mental health problems you could experience in pregnancy. They can happen at any time, even if this is not your first pregnancy.

A table explaining symptoms of mental health problems and what it might be.
If you You may have
feel sad all the time depression
have flashbacks, nightmares or feel intense distress when reminded of a past experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – this can happen if you had a pregnancy go wrong, a traumatic birth or have experienced abuse
have sudden attacks of panic or fear panic disorder
have obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
have an intense fear of giving birth Tokophobia – Tommy’s has more information

You may also find it hard to cope with your body changing shape, particularly if you have had an eating disorder.

Further support

Information:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice

Get advice about looking after your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic:

Page last reviewed: 19 February 2021
Next review due: 19 February 2024