Maternal Mental Health

Caring for your mental health and well-being is vital during pregnancy. If you are mentally healthy, you can better manage your pregnancy and new duties as a parent. Some new parents may develop health conditions such as depression or anxiety. If you have symptoms for more than 2 weeks, it important to see your provider for support.

Perinatal Mood Disorders 

Perinatal mood disorders are mental health conditions that may develop during pregnancy and/or within a year of giving birth (postpartum). They differ from “Baby Blues” (mild depressive symptoms) which are commonly experienced during the postpartum period. 

“Baby blues” symptoms may occur within 1-2 weeks after you give birth. Some signs are:  

  • Irritable
  • Overwhelmed
  • Mood changes
  • Anxious
  • Tired
  • Sleepy

It is normal for parents to feel anxious or nervous about having a new baby. However, the mental health disorders listed below have more severe effects on you and your child’s health and well-being.

Some perinatal mood disorders are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Psychosis

Perinatal Depression

Perinatal Depression is the onset of symptoms that can begin during or after pregnancy through the first year of birth. Symptoms may include anger, guilt, fatigue, loss of appetite, excessive crying, insomnia, and loss of interest in activities.

Perinatal Anxiety

Perinatal Anxiety includes symptoms such as overly worrying about the health and well-being of the infant, one’s abilities as a mother, and general distress related to life circumstances.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual and dramatic shifts in mood, energy, activity levels and the ability to complete daily tasks.

Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum Psychosis is a mental state in which mothers lose connection with reality. It is associated with seeing and/or hearing things, delusions, and increased thoughts of harming oneself or their child.

Postpartum OCD

Postpartum OCD is a condition in which one has unwanted thoughts or urges. One may also feel the need to engage in behaviors to ward off these thoughts to avoid a feared outcome. Symptoms may also include excessive washing of clothes, constantly checking/waking the baby, and fear of harming your baby.

Causes of Mood disorders may be due to:

  • Genetics
  • Hormonal Changes
  • Lack of Support
  • Perfectionism
  • Sleep Disruption
  • Poor Health or Nutrition
  • Interpersonal or Cultural Stress
  • Loss and Grief
  • Returning to Work

How to manage your mental health:

Know your triggers and symptoms.

Stress Management – Practice things like controlled breathing, meditation, and mental health breaks in order to maintain healthy levels of stress.

Physical Fitness – Physical activity is beneficial for your body, mind and spirit.  Staying active and physically fit is a great way to maintain mental health.  Be mindful of your limits and be careful not to over exert yourself.

Build a support network – Lean on your partner, family, and friends for support.  Having a dedicated support group will make you feel more confident about your ability to manage new responsibilities as a parent.

See a mental health specialist – Get help from a licensed mental health professional.  They can guide you through this tough time and help you on the road to recovery.

The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) is a questionnaire that can help identify if you are experiencing the signs or symptoms of postpartum depression. Please go to the Perinatology website to complete a self-assessment. If you score 10 or higher please contact Carelon Behavioral Health at 1.877.344.2858 / TTY 711 or 1.800.735.2929

Call the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline for additional support at 1.833.852.6262 to speak to a counselor (TTY users dial 711 and then 1.833.852.6262).

Visit Maternal Mental Health Now for more information about maternal mental health.

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a free and private line to support people in distress. You can call or text 988, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.