Perinatal and Infant Mental Health

Pregnancy and parenthood can bring many changes to a woman’s life, both physically and emotionally. The range of physical and lifestyle changes are likely to lead to mixed emotions, and even occasional doubts.  It’s normal to feel some level of stress when there is impending change and you cannot prepare or control everything, or even know what to expect.

The transition to parenthood can have significant and wide-ranging impacts on the emotional health for new parents. For some the transition appears smooth and without any major stress, but for others the experience is far from what they expected.

Bringing a new baby into the world requires you to develop many new skills, routines and constantly adapt to personal, social and lifestyle changes. Sleepless nights and the demands of a new baby can invoke feelings of sadness, exhaustion, anger feeling totally overwhelmed.

Some women are more vulnerable to emotional and mental health conditions in pregnancy. Some risk factors that increase risk are previous or existing mental illness, isolation and lack of family and social supports.

The baby blues usually occur between the third and fifth day after having your baby. Often women describe feeling very teary, or sometimes irritable. These overwhelming feelings are completely normal and natural, and are due to the sudden change in your hormone levels following the birth. Up to 80 percent of women experience this, and will usually disappear in a few days. If you are finding that these feelings are continuing it is important to seek help.

Women often feel that they are a failure if they express any negative emotion during this time. The media portrays motherhood as a blissful and glamorous time, our bodies should look perfect ASAP, and that we should be back at work. In reality motherhood can be a very stressful time and having someone to talk to will help you move past these feelings and into a more positive and enjoyable place. It is not a weakness to ask for help.

Some common Perinatal Mental Illnesses (click section for more info):

Our resident expert in all things Perinatal (i.e. mothers, babies, and everything in between) is Nattallee Allan.

She is the only Perinatal & Infant Mental Health Nurse in North Coast.