The main thing to remember is not to lose touch with the network of people around you, while you deal with your mental health challenges. There are usually several professionals involved in your care during pregnancy. They all need to work together with you and your family to make sure you have the care and support you need. This is really important as talking goes a long way to helping you maintain mental health.
If you have had a severe mental illness, it is helpful to have a meeting to plan your care during pregnancy. This meeting will include you, your partner and all the professionals involved in your care. You may also want to bring other close family members or friends who can help you at home. The meeting helps everyone agree a plan for your care during pregnancy, delivery, and for the first few months after birth. This plan will be written down and you should have a copy.
Who else can support me during pregnancy?
Some people have more support than others. Your main support may be your partner, family or friends. It is helpful if the people closest to you know about your mental health challenges. If you are at risk of becoming unwell, they should know what symptoms to look out for. They also need to know who to contact for help if they are worried about you. Your partner, family and friends can also help in practical ways to take the pressure off you – E.g, cooking dinner or cleaning up or making the bed.
Many other sources of help and support are available for pregnant women and new mothers. This will vary depending on where you live. Your midwife and health visitor should be able to tell you what is available in your area.
What things can I do to maintain my mental wellbeing during my pregnancy?
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Get regular sleep.
- Reduce alcohol intake, stop drinking if possible.
- Stop smoking (ask your midwife or GP about ‘stop smoking’ services).
- Find some time each week to do something which you enjoy, improves your mood or helps you to relax.
- Let family and friends help you with chores around the house, shopping etc.
- Exercise (ask your midwife about exercise in pregnancy and local exercise classes).
- Discuss any worries you may have with your family, your midwife or GP.
Source: Antenatal and postnatal mental health: clinical management and service guidance. NICE Clinical Guideline 45.(2007)