Dear Is This Normal,
I’m 8 months pregnant, depressed, and I’m dreading being a mom. Before I was pregnant I always wanted to be a mom. What changed? I feel so selfish and guilty even thinking these thoughts.
Dear Pregnancy Blues,
Oh, mama, I feel you and you are so not alone! Pregnancy is a roller coaster even under the most perfect conditions—the physical changes, hormones, and emotional ups and downs you experience can mean you feel like a million bucks one second and like you’re drowning under the weight of it all the next. Pregnancy is a joyous time, for sure, but it can also be incredibly stressful. Especially right now—you are pregnant in a pandemic! The amount of stress that can create is…a lot. I want you to know that how you’re feeling right now has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you want to be a mom, and it shouldn’t cast doubt on your abilities once your little one arrives. Pregnancy depression is really common and not at all indicative of a person’s feelings about impending motherhood. It’s a condition during pregnancy that many, MANY pregnant people experience, and one for which there is help available. Is it normal to feel depressed when pregnant? Yes. Does it mean you don’t want to be a mom? Mama, not even a little bit.
It’s estimated that approximately 15% of pregnant people experience depression during pregnancy. But that number is likely much higher because many of the symptoms can mimic normal pregnancy symptoms and side effects. Depression in pregnancy symptoms can include mood swings, irritability, frequent crying, memory problems, changes to your sleep patterns (either sleeping too much or experiencing insomnia), changes to your appetite (eating more than usual or lack of appetite), difficulty focusing or making decisions, or a loss of interest in things you used to enjoy. Now, I’ve yet to meet a pregnant person who has not experienced one or several of these symptoms—so you see the conundrum, yes? It’s hard to know if you’re experiencing pregnancy depression, or if you’re just having one of those days. But if you’re experiencing at least three of these symptoms for two weeks or longer, coupled with some of the other feelings you’ve described (dreading being a mom, guilt, etc.), then it’s time to talk to your doc.
I know that right now, you’re feeling pretty helpless and hopeless. But I want you to focus on two very important facts when it comes to how to deal with pregnancy depression:
- Pregnancy depression is temporary.
- Pregnancy depression is very treatable.
With medication, talk therapy, or a combination of both, you can be back to feeling like yourself and getting ready for that babe to make their big debut. The first step, the MOST important step, is reaching out for help (which you did here, and for which I am immensely proud of you). Talk to your doctor about your feelings; not just the normal pregnancy stuff, but the intrusive thoughts you’ve been having. You and your doctor will decide if antidepressants are right for you—no judgement if you don’t want to take them, just know that it’s an option. If you decide not to go the prescription med route, your doc can refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist who can help work with you on managing your feelings, and developing some healthier tools to cope with your depression.
What you’re experiencing doesn’t make you a bad person, and it doesn’t mean you are ungrateful or won’t be a good mom when your baby is born. It just means that you are human. You shouldn’t feel guilty, and you are not selfish. You reached out here, which I know is so hard to do, and sounds pretty damn selfless to me. Give your doc a call, mama. Get working on loving and nurturing yourself so you can get back to being excited to love and nurture your little one. You got this.
From Blue to a Healthier You,
Is This Normal