For many women, pregnancy can be one the most joyous times of their lives – but for one in 10 African women, it is the most depressing.
Mental health during pregnancy is as important as going to your check-ups and setting up the baby’s room.
We chatted to Sister Neliswe from Philips Mother and Child Care, to find out how expectant mothers can minimise anxiety and stress.
Here are seven tips to help you take care of your mental health during pregnancy:
1. Step away from the computer
Don’t become a Google doctor! Research is great, but too much can end up causing you unwanted anxiety. It’s enough that you’re being bombarded with info from your mother-in-law – so no need to add extra stress by spending hours on the internet researching all the things that could go wrong.
Sister Nelisiwe suggests limiting the amount of time you spend on the Internet. “Don’t get to a point where it consumes your entire life and fuels your paranoia,” she says.
Take time to care of your number one priority – yourself! After all, a healthy mom means a healthy baby. Set time aside each day to clear your mind and do something you enjoy doing.
Sister Nelisiwe suggests meditation as it will help keep you calm and level-headed when reacting to stressful situations during your pregnancy.
As difficult as it may be, take some time to yourself and rest whenever possible… because when baby comes you might never sleep again (kidding)!
Whether it’s going to bed early, taking breaks throughout the day, having brunch with the girls or a holiday – ensure that you are stress-free and as rested as possible.
4. Eat healthy foods
Eating good healthy food will not only be good for you and baby, but it will make you feel good too. Eating a bowl of oatmeal will give you a dose of B vitamins which will enhance the brain’s production of serotonin, the happy hormone, helping to reduce mood swings.
Exercising will get a rush of endophines going, helping lower your stress and anxiety levels.
Exercising while pregnant has heaps of benefits, such as offering relief from an aching back, helping with constipation and keeping your weight at a healthy level.
6. Don’t over do it
Sister Nellsiwe suggests not overloading yourself with work. Don’t commit to long hours or to stressful amounts of work. Listen to your body and know your limits. Try to plan your daily tasks to avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Also try not to make any major changes such as moving house – adjusting to having a baby is enough of a challenge.
7. Build a good support network
It’s vital to have a good support network around you during pregnancy. This could be anyone from your partner, parent, friends or healthcare professional. Who is in your support network is all dependent on how much you trust them and your level of interaction.
Having supportive people in your life can make all the difference to how you deal with stress, anxiety and negative emotions.