Some studies suggest that depression during pregnancy may increase the risk for pre-term delivery and low infant birth weight. However, there are experts who debate this.
Depression may interfere with your ability to bond with your growing baby, too. Being depressed during pregnancy can place you at greater risk for having an episode of depression after delivery (postpartum depression).
Take Care of Yourself
Preparing for a new baby is a lot of hard work, but your health should come first. So resist the urge to get everything done: Cut down on your chores, and do things that will help you to relax. Taking care of yourself is a key part of taking care of your unborn child.
Open up to your partner, your family, or your friends about what concerns you. If you ask for support, you'll find that you often get it.
Your OB-GYN or regular doctor may screen you for depression at a routine office visit. They can ask you a series of questions to check your risk for depression and can offer treatment if necessary.
Medication and Treatment
Studies on the effect of antidepressant medicines on your growing baby suggest they are safe for treating depression during pregnancy. However, there may be a very small risk of birth defects that include fetal heart and skull abnormalities with the use of SSRI antidepressants, which include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft) early in a pregnancy. But remember that not treating depression may be more risky than taking medication.
Talk to your doctor about the possible risks and benefits of antidepressants. They can work with you to manage your symptoms and develop a treatment plan. They can also refer you to a mental health specialist, if you need it.
When to Talk to Your Doctor
- Get support from your partner, family, and friends.
- Tell your doctor. Ask for help.
- Eat well. Depression can rob you of your appetite, but your baby still needs nourishment.
- Get some exercise. A walk or swimming can help improve your mood and is good for your baby.
- Don’t suddenly stop taking antidepressants. Talk to your doctor first.
- Consider counseling or joining a support group.