Menu

Prenatal depression is a thing—a very real, important thing

And it’s time we all started talking about it.

Prenatal depression is a thing—a very real, important thing

When I was expecting my first child, I was prepared to encounter morning sickness, fatigue and even swollen feet that necessitated moving up a shoe size. What I didn’t anticipate was the emotional toll pregnancy would take: Beyond the normal fluctuations of hormones, I was among the estimated 14 to 23 percent of expectant mothers who experience prenatal depression.


Far from the blissful, goddess-like image often projected on pregnant women, this left me feeling unenthusiastic toward otherwise happy moments in life, uninterested in the activities I usually loved and unsure of my role outside of mom-to-be. After struggling with similar feelings at previous points in my life, the crippling sense of apathy that tends to characterize my depression wasn’t foreign to me. Yet, I was caught off-guard—unaware there was even such a thing as “prenatal depression.”

FEATURED VIDEO

This time, I believed, was supposed to be one of the happiest occasions of my life. Why was I feeling this way?

As long as we only talk with women about the joyous aspects of pregnancy and impending parenthood, we’re doing everyone a disservice, says postpartum therapist Thai-An Truong of Lasting Change Therapy. “These societal expectations lead women to feel shame when they don't always feel happy and excited about pregnancy,” says Truong. “They often know that it is an issue, but it's scary to open up to talk about.”

As a result, a 2003 study found 86 percent of pregnant women who expressed “significant depressive symptoms” in obstetric appointments were not receiving any form of treatment.

There has since been progress: In January 2016, the U.S. Preventative Task Force issued a long-overdue recommendation that healthcare providers screen for depression during pregnancy.

Still, treatment is lacking, says Erin Barbossa, LMSW. In order for that to change, she says healthcare professionals need to be more proactive with treating mothers’ emotional symptoms. “From my perspective, unfortunately, our medical system really lacks putting the mental health lens on unless symptoms are really severe,” Barbossa says. “We tend to focus on the physical symptoms related to the health of the baby, and if all of those check out, all is good enough.”

Watch out for the signs

According to the American Pregnancy Association, prenatal depression red flags that warrant outreach include:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest in typically enjoyable activities
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Suicidal ideation

On the surface—especially for parents navigating pregnancy for the first time—some of these symptoms may seem normal. But Barbossa argues they can be both “normal” and “distressing in a way that deserves attention and intervention.”

And that attention shouldn’t be limited to in-and-out healthcare appointments: We—as sisters, friends and fellow mothers—need to create safe spaces to talk about our true experiences without fear of judgment or shame. “When expectant mothers feel they aren’t alone in their experience, they are more likely to talk about it during an appointment and more likely to receive assessment,” explains Barbossa.

When I was struggling, my confusion and guilt only complicated matters. I desperately wanted this baby—so what was my early apprehension saying about my abilities as a mother? Nothing, says Barbossa. Rather, it’s natural to feel intense, potentially conflicting emotions during the huge life transition that is pregnancy.

“Becoming a mother is one of the most vulnerable things we do,” she says. “We grow something inside our body and love something so unconditionally it hurts. Sometimes that hurt literally comes up as physical and emotional pain.”

While prenatal depression isn’t an indication of parenting skills, it is a medical condition that deserves acknowledgement and treatment. As a postpartum therapist who also treats pregnant mothers, Truong says her aim is to give expectant parents the chance to work through their emotional experiences.

Outside of professional treatment, Truong says we would all benefit by creating safe spaces for each other. If you sense an expectant mom is struggling, Truong suggests using phrases such as, “Feeling scared or even angry doesn’t make you a bad mom, it just makes you human”—or by not saying anything at all and just hearing her out.

Now in my second pregnancy, I was better able to identify the symptoms of prenatal depression and put my intervention plan into action. Honestly, that’s all thanks to knowing there is help that comes without judgment and hope that comes with treatment.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less
Shop

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play