Depression in pregnancy is perhaps less widely talked about as postnatal depression. I suffered from antenatal depression during my second pregnancy, having not fully recovered or been treated from the PND I had with my first daughter. Added to that I was terrified of giving birth again, so I suffered from extreme anxiety about what lay ahead.
Pregnancy is obviously a time of HUGE physical change and many clients come to me in pregnancy because they want to maintain some sort of “control” over their changing bodies. By continuing to exercise they can feel empowered and physically stronger and as a result hopefully suffer less of the nasty pregnancy niggles such as fatigue, poor posture, back ache, weakened pelvic floor muscles and excessive abdominal separation. Exercise also better equips mums for labour and birth. I personally found maintaining my exercise routine during pregnancy helped alleviate the depression. Although it is not a magic cure, it can be hugely beneficial both for your mental health AND physical well-being.
Tips on Exercising to help Ante-natal Depression
- Walk as much as you can in pregnancy – it really is one of the best and safest forms of exercise – getting out and about in the fresh air is great at lifting your mood naturally.
- Some exercise classes and gym work ARE safe for you to continue taking part in during your pregnancy. If you have been doing classes for a while, you don’t have to stop as soon as you get pregnant! Always tell your instructor you are pregnant though. For more tips on exercising in pregnancy, see our blog on the benefits of exercising in pregnancy and also our online pregnancy programme has details on how to continue to attend your favourite exercise classes but with little tweaks here and there to accommodate your growing bump safely.
- A pregnancy Pilates or Yoga class can be very beneficial as both concentrate on the breathing and relaxation techniques which can help you feel more calm and focused. There is also “mindfulness” linked to these forms of exercises where you can “switch off” and be in the moment which has been shown to help alleviate feelings of depression. Plus you get to meet other expectant mums, great if you are feeling a little lonely or isolated in your pregnancy.
- Try our safe and effective pregnancy Fitness and Pilates programmes – they can be done in your own home/garden or at your gym. It means you can keep up your exercise but secure in the knowledge the exercises you are doing are safe for your stage of pregnancy. We also have lots of great healthy recipes for you to try too.
If you are experiencing depression in pregnancy then please seek the help you need. Speak to your family and friends and your doctor or midwife. You can also contact ante/post natal depression charities/helplines for further advice. If you have experienced a traumatic first birth and you are worried about subsequent births like I was, then counselling can really help. Find a counsellor or organisation that specialises in dealing with these issues.
- For those Bristol based Bluebell Care is a fabulous charity working with those suffering from depression in pregnancy and postnatally. http://www.bluebellcare.org/ - it also has useful links to other organisations that can help.
- The Samaritans - http://www.samaritans.org
- Mind helplines - http://www.mind.org.uk/help/advice_lines