Understand your emotional health and wellbeing during your pregnancy

There are many definitions of perinatal. At GLOW, we define the perinatal period as starting from the moment you begin planning to become pregnant, through to when your child reaches kindergarten age.
This is a question many mothers-to-be ask. A number of factors have been shown to increase the risk of psychological difficulties during, and after, pregnancy, including:
  • past history of:
    • psychological illness at any time, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, personality disorders or psychosis
    • psychological illness during or after pregnancy, such as antenatal or postnatal depression or anxiety and postnatal psychosis
    • significant childhood trauma.
  • family history of psychological illness
  • recent major life event, such as major illness; or a significant loss such as pregnancy loss or loss of a parent, partner, child or other close relative or friend
  • stressful or adverse life events such as changes to, or loss of, work; renovating; moving house; relocating interstate or overseas
  • lack of practical, financial, social and / or emotional supports
  • relationship difficulties
  • perfectionistic personality style
  • assisted reproduction and IVF
  • intimate partner violence.
Women who are at particularly high risk include those with a past, pregnancy or family history of moderate-severe depression or anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and psychotic illnesses.
If you feel you may be at risk, book an appointment for a GLOW assessment and management plan.

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Women with a current psychological illness are at particular risk of becoming worse during their pregnancy. We recommend a consultation with your GLOW Psychiatrist or GLOW Psychologist to:
  • help you understand the risks to yourself, and to your developing baby
  • review your illness history; and,
  • together, decide upon the best plan to become well and stay well during your pregnancy.
If you feel you may be at risk, book an appointment for a GLOW assessment and management plan.

book an appointment 
Seeing a GLOW psychiatrist before you fall pregnant is ideal. However, we understand that up to 50% of pregnancies are unplanned. If you are on medication, you are at particular risk of relapse or deterioration if you suddenly stop medication during your pregnancy.

We understand that this can be a very stressful and uncertain time for you and your partner. For this reason, we will provide you with priority access to GLOW Care. We will also work with your General Practitioner (GP) or Obstetrician to manage your medications safely during the perinatal period.

The management of psychotropic medications during and after pregnancy requires specialist expertise. We recommend a consultation with your GLOW Psychiatrist. Together, you will review your illness history and current difficulties. You will explore options such as:
  • the risks and benefits to you, and your developing baby, of ceasing, reducing or changing your medication in a safe and supervised manner;
  • psychological therapy which may enable reduction or cessation of your medication and
  • GLOW wellness services such as nutrition, yoga, pilates or massage.
  • If you feel you may be at risk, we encourage you to book an appointment for a GLOW assessment and management plan.

    book an appointment 
Depression during pregnancy is common, affecting between 7 to 13% of women [1]. Without effective treatment, depression can persist through pregnancy with 50% becoming Postnatal Depression.

Anxiety during pregnancy is thought to be at least, if not more common, affecting up to 13% of pregnant of postnatal women in the past year [4]. Depression and anxiety often occur together.

There are other psychological illnesses that can occur during pregnancy, such as bipolar disorder. All carry risks for you and your developing infant.

Negotiating pregnancy can cause many different emotional responses. You may experience tiredness, or feel overwhelmed, or uncertain. You may find it difficult to know if these are normal experiences or part of a more significant problem, such as pregnancy depression or anxiety.

Some of the common signs of depression can include:
  • a loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities
  • feeling:
    • numb, or in a low mood
    • inadequate, like a failure
    • sad, empty, hopeless, worthless
    • unmotivated
    • unable to cope with daily routine
  • having difficulty sleeping, or excessive sleeping
  • loss of appetite, or over eating
  • excessive crying
  • thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Some of the common signs of anxiety disorders can include:
  • anxiety, fear or worry that is difficult to control
  • excessive worry about your baby’s health, or the birth
  • feeling irritable, tense, restless, on edge
  • experiencing difficulty relaxing and falling asleep at night
  • muscle tension
  • chest tightness, heart palpitations or shortness of breath
  • fear or worry that stops you going out
  • excessive checking on baby.
In many cases, a mixture of depressive and anxiety symptoms can be experienced.
There are a number of very good resources available that provide reliable, good quality information about psychological disorders during, and after, pregnancy. These are listed below.

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Other resources available to help you make decisions for an emotionally healthy pregnancy

Below is a list of organisations who can provide additional resources, information and support before, during and after, your pregnancy.

Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE)
An organisation dedicated to improving the emotional wellbeing of parents before and during pregnancy, and the year following the birth of a baby.

beyondblue is a national initiative raising awareness of anxiety and depression, providing resources for recovery, management and resilience.

Beyondblue Helpline: 1300 22 4636

National Perinatal Depression Helpline: 1300 726 306
Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA)
Providing National telephone support and information service for women, men and their families with perinatal depression and anxiety.

Action Postpartum Psychosis
A UK organisation of nearly 600 members in the UK and worldwide that informs, supports and advocates for women and their families affected by Postpartum Psychosis (PPP) and facilitates research on PPP.

In the case of a medical or psychological crisis

If you, or someone you know, is in need of urgent or crisis care and is unable to wait for an appointment please consider telephoning these crisis services:

Monash Health Psychiatric Triage Service
Phone: 1300 369 012

Peninsula Health Psychiatric Triage Service
Phone: 1300 792 977
Casey Hospital Monash Health Accident and Emergency
Phone: 03 9594 6666

Peninsula Health Accident and Emergency
03 9783 8522

For immediate police or ambulance assistance, call 000.
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