What is maternal mental health?
Maternal mental health, also known as perinatal mental health, refers to a mother’s overall emotional, social, and mental well-being, both during and after pregnancy.
Mental Health Illness During Pregnancy
- As many as 1 in 5 women will have mood and anxiety disorders while pregnant, with the most common being depression.1 2
- Only about 10% of pregnant women will seek treatment for these concerns.1 2
What are some risks of not treating a mental health condition while pregnant?1 3
Risks for the baby
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Sleeping and feeding troubles
- Cognitive deficits
Risks for the mother
- Poor prenatal care
- Depression or other mental health disorders occurring after giving birth
- Increased risk of substance use
Could this be depression, or is it the “baby blues”?
- Unexplainable mood changes
- Lasts less than 2 weeks after delivery
- Generally happy feelings, with some low mood
Postpartum Depression3 4
- Feeling sad, worthless, or hopeless
- Loss of interest or pleasure in life, hard time concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite
- Thoughts of harming self or the baby
- Lasts for more than 2 weeks
What are the next steps?
- Talk with a healthcare provider if there is a mental health concern during or after pregnancy.
- Treatment options can include therapy and medications, alone or in combination. It is important to compare the risks and benefits of medications to those of untreated mental illness during pregnancy.
- Medications are often helpful, however some medications are safer than others during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Women should talk with their health care provider to determine the best treatment plan for them.
- Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant while being treated for a mental health condition should talk with their healthcare provider to closely monitor mental health changes.
Are there available resources to learn more?
Andrea Zuloaga, PharmD, January 2020
To view the references for this resource, please visit aapp.org/428329.
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