It is estimated that more than half of people suffering from mental illness do not get help for their conditions. This is because of the shame and bias connected with mental health. For this reason, the observance of Mental Health Awareness Month started in 1949 to educate the public about mental illness.
Many women are diagnosed with and treated for mental health issues before they become pregnant. However, others may develop mental health issues during or after pregnancy due to changes in hormone levels and/or the stress that comes with this major life event. In fact, mental illness is most common during the childbearing years and 1 in 5 women develop a maternal mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse during pregnancy and childbirth.
Regardless of when or how it develops, taking care of your mental health during pregnancy and while breastfeeding is important for the health of yourself and your developing baby! Consequently, take care of yourself as much as you can, eat a balanced diet, exercise, get enough sleep, and take your prenatal vitamins.
And finally, it is important for you to have honest conversations with your doctor about your mental health if you are pregnant or wanting to become pregnant. Also, if are experiencing overwhelming worry or fear and/or if you are feeling sadness or irritability for weeks or months at a time do not be afraid to ask your doctor for help!