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Coping With Depression While Pregnant

Coping With Depression While Pregnant

Pregnancy should be a time of joy, but for 1 in 10 women depression while pregnant is the harsh reality they face. You should be aware of the symptoms, risk factors, and the fact that there are treatments available.

Symptoms of depression while pregnant

No two women will suffer in exactly the same way but they will have some of the following in common:

  • Experiencing a low mood for 2 weeks or more
  • Feeling a sense of guilt
  • Having a low supply of energy
  • Feel like eating less or eating more
  • Feeling a sense of hopelessness
  • Less interest in what’s happening around them
  • Lack of enjoyment in activities once enjoyed.
  • Having thoughts about death or suicide.
  • Sleeping a lot more or not sleeping enough.

Depression while pregnant is often associated with anxiety. Here are some of the symptoms of anxiety that you might experience:

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  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability
  • Feeling restless
  • Muscle pains
  • Excessive worry.

Risk factors of depression in pregnancy

Certain conditions predict whether a woman might be more likely to develop depression while pregnant.

  • If there are problems or complications during the pregnancy.
  • Women who undergo fertility treatments are at risk due to the ongoing stress of the treatment and the fear of losing the baby.
  • Expectant mothers who live alone (because they are single, divorced or separated) are at risk.
  • Young mothers under the age of 20 are at risk due to enormity of the responsibility they are faced with.
  • Those with a history of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
  • Women who have a history of abuse.
  • Those with poor social or family support.
  • Women who already have more than 3 children.
  • Women who feel indifferent about the pregnancy.
  • Experiencing stressful life events during pregnancy.

Pregnancy can be a difficult time even if you have excellent family support, a loving partner and a secure financial situation. It is no surprise then, that so many pregnant women become depressed when under stress of some kind.

Risks of untreated depression in pregnancy

If depression goes untreated during a pregnancy, which happens in over 80% of cases, some of the following could happen?

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  • The patient may end up having a C section
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Attachment problems (the mother may find it difficult to bond with her baby)
  • Substance and alcohol use
  • 50% develop Post Partum Depression
  • Low birthweight of baby
  • Premature birth
  • Low APGAR score (assessment of baby at birth)
  • Suicide
  • Pregnancy termination
  • Baby can adapt poorly outside the womb
  • Mother can neglect her health

Treatment options

Fortunately there is help available to women who find themselves depressed at this sensitive time.

Psychotherapy

Talking about your problems can really help, especially if you have no one you can confide in at home. Psychotherapy has been known to help many people who suffer from depression. This is the first port of call for those who would rather not use medication.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is particularly good for helping with anxiety and negative thoughts. CBT helps to rewire the way we think–turning negative thoughts into positive ones.

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Psychotherapy really helps you to feel that you are not alone and so could be very beneficial for single or divorced mothers in this position.

Acupuncture

This is an eastern medicine which involves placing needles gently on certain points in the body to bring about particular therapeutic affects. Acupuncture is well-known for its powerful healing benefits for people suffering from depression. It is also a natural therapy and poses no risk to the fetus.

Light Therapy

Recently, a study revealed its results, announcing that Bright Light Therapy is beneficial for all types of depression and not just seasonal depression. It demands little time and effort to sit in front of a light box for 20-40 minutes each morning to allow your body to absorb light. Light therapy has about a 60% success rate in treating depression.

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Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids

Studies have found Omega 3 to be beneficial in the treatment of depression. It is best to buy a good quality brand with a high percentage of omega 3.

Antidepressants

You should check with a doctor before taking anything, but it has been said that many antidepressants are safe to take during pregnancy. It has also been found that in many cases where women stopped taking antidepressants in pregnancy their depression returned during the course of the pregnancy.

Depression can have a devastating affect on an expectant mother. Pregnant women are under huge pressure today to provide for and look after their families, typically while continuing to work outside the home. It’s little wonder so many become depressed. It is really important that symptoms are not ignored.

Doctors and family members are there to help. Get a support team on board if you are feeling depressed. Reach out and you will soon be relieved at how much better you will be feeling.

For your own sake and that of your baby it is your right to seek help. If you act now you will be feeling well again, long before your baby arrives. Then you will sail through the months and years ahead as a parent.

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Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

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The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

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As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

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I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

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The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

Reference

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