The challenges of postnatal depression are increasingly part of our conversations around birth. But too often the mental distresses encountered while pregnant are misunderstood or unspoken.
Ididn’t know about antenatal anxiety until I had it. I’d been concerned about postnatal depression, and prepared to handle it as best I could. But I’d never heard of mental distress occuring during pregnancy.
When I look back, some of my thoughts and feelings showed really clearly that I was distressed. I was obsessed with counting the movements of my baby because I thought he was dying inside me. I thought sleeping might hurt him so I used to try and stay awake all night. I was convinced he didn’t want me to be his mother. These are obviously not the thoughts of a healthy person.
But other thoughts were more subtle and insidious. I cried in the shower most days. I put this down to hormones – but actually, you shouldn’t cry that much while you’re pregnant. I put a lot down to hormones when what I was actually experiencing was anxiety – feeling worried every day about finances, how we would manage, what kind of parent I would be with two children. It is normal to worry a little bit; but if you’re constantly worried, it could be a sign of something bigger. I felt emotionally numb a lot, it was hard to make a connection with my baby.