Depression During Pregnancy: 6 Things You Can Do To Help Prevent Prenatal Depression

The entire childbearing year -- including pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum -- is a time of tremendous change, psychologically and physically. Women need support to take care of themselves, emotionally and physically, through this important life-changing event.

Pregnancy can make you vulnerable to emotional swings, caused not only by hormones and physical change, but psychological change, too. Bouts of depression may increase during pregnancy. Much depends on what the emotional meaning of the pregnancy is for you, how you deal with your body image during this period, the state of your support system, and of course, how well you take care of yourself physically and emotionally, throughout the course of your pregnancy. Use these six tricks to help you during this monumental year.

1. Take a look inside. The psychological task of pregnancy is giving birth to a new identity as mother and woman. Finding a way to mother that includes things you want for yourself can help resolve depression in pregnancy, yielding a happier mother postpartum. Ask yourself these questions: How prepared are you for motherhood? What kind of parent do you think you will be? What are you looking forward to?

2. Explore your family history. Mother-daughter relationships, relationships with siblings and your marital relationship will all play parts in your psychological preparation for becoming a mother. Sometimes, treatment of postpartum depression has been termed "getting the ghosts out of the nursery."This refers to past childhood pain, which must be understood so that it is less likely to be projected onto the your relationship with your own child. Postpartum depression is often preceded by depression in pregnancy, in anticipation of the factors underlying the changes to come.

Ask yourself these questions: What was/is your relationship like with your mother? How do you want to mother? Is this similar to the way you were mothered or different? What are your fears?

3. Take your needs seriously. This can help you anticipate your needs in motherhood. Take care of yourself by seeking support and anticipating your needs for help, whether it is with housework or issues related to family relationships that come up during pregnancy. Ask yourself these questions: What do you need yourself, in order to mother a child? What will you be giving up to have a child?

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