Pregnancy and early parenthood

It’s common to have mixed feelings when you find out that you’re pregnant. You might be: excited, scared, happy, unsure, stressed out, nervous or upset. This is all pretty normal but if the negative feelings last for more than a few weeks, or if they start to get really bad, it’s a good idea to tell your doctor, midwife or someone else who you trust.

What are the baby blues?

You’ll feel lots of normal emotional changes after you have a baby. You might have heard of something called the ‘baby blues’. Signs of the baby blues include: 

  • crying a lot and feeling teary or down in the dumps
  • being grumpy or irritable
  • lots of mood swings or really sudden feelings
  • being really sensitive to everything.

The baby blues should go away within a few days without treatment. If these feelings don’t go away in a week or two then you might want to learn more about mental health problems including postnatal depression or anxiety. This isn't something you should get scared about. Lots of other mums go through it too. Talking to your doctor and putting a few things in place will make you more confident that you can handle everything coming your way.

Antenatal and postnatal depression and anxiety

There is no right or wrong way to feel during pregnancy. Your reactions and emotions will depend on your situation, although it can be hard to know whether your feelings are within the 'normal' range when you are not under your 'normal' circumstances.

Depression and anxiety can happen at any time – but we know women are more likely to experience these conditions during pregnancy and the year following the birth of a baby.

Signs and symptons

There are a lot of different signs and symptoms but here are some that might indicate you need to talk to your doctor:

Feelings

  • Are you feeling sad more than you feel happy? 
  • Big mood changes
  • Feeling unable to cope

Thoughts

  • Negative thinking all the time
  • Feeling inadequate most of the time 
  • Thoughts of harming yourself  

Behaviour

  • Withdrawing from others
  • Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Constantly checking on your baby because of worry or anxiety
  • Fears of harming your baby
  • Avoiding certain places, situations or things

Physical

  • Changes in appetite
  • Feeling constantly exhausted or hyperactive
  • Getting a racing heart, sweating or headaches for no physical reason

What can you do to start feeling better?

Talking to your partner, family or friends about how you are feeling will help them understand your moods. Tell them (and yourself) that this is a normal part of the process and in most cases these feelings will pass in time.

Make sure that you try and look after yourself by resting and eating well when you are pregnant and once you have had the baby.

Where to get support?

Sometimes you need more than the help of your friends and family. It can be hard to ask for help but it show’s you care about yourself and your family and you want to be a good parent. 

Antenatal and postnatal depression and anxiety are medical conditions and so treatment from a health professional is sometimes necessary. There are a range of health professionals including your midwife and doctor who can support you while you recover from anxiety and depression.

Support groups, websites and helplines can also be a great help, including the I’ve Been There and Brave Foundation websites for young parents to find out more about pregnancy and parenting and Just Speak Up where people affected by postnatal depression share their experiences.

Content for this page was provided from the I’ve Been There website by the Mental Health Association NSW in association with MH-CYP NSW Ministry of Health. I’ve Been There is a website for young parents to find out more about pregnancy and parenting, as well as some of the mental health problems that are common during this time.