Home Mental Wellness Why mental health is important during pregnancy | The New Times

Why mental health is important during pregnancy | The New Times


Pregnancy comes with a mixture of feelings, and not all of them are good. There is always the case of worry, anxiety and adapting to the big transition especially if it’s the first pregnancy.

If not dealt with, such feelings can take a toll on the expectant mother’s mental health and their general wellbeing.


For some however, mental health issues could have been existent even before the pregnancy, but either way, medical experts recommend handling the issue as early as possible.


Working on mental wellbeing during pregnancy is very important. A lack of it has potential to cause harm both to the mother and baby.


Dr John Muganda, an obstetrician and gynaecologist explains that poor mental health can cause several dangers including complications during delivery or cause a high-risk pregnancy, depression and anxiety among others.

“Changes in a woman’s body during pregnancy and everyday worries can take a toll on them and lead to stress, but it’s totally normal. The problem occurs when the woman feels down all the time or shows other different signs that might harm her or the baby. In many cases, medics might choose a C-Section over normal delivery so as to save a child’s life and later deal with the mother’s issues,’’ he says.

Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and others, during pregnancy can also lead to miscarriage, delivering before the due date (preterm), and giving birth to underweight babies, he adds.

Muganda further explains that it’s important to treat mental health concerns during pregnancy as mothers who are depressed, anxious, or have other mental wellbeing issues might fail to take care of themselves or might harm themselves by using drugs and alcohol yet all this harms the baby too.

“If a woman has a mental health problem, it is important to consult a doctor. Thought it might be hard, treatment should be sought before any complications. Sometimes poor mental wellbeing can affect a child’s character and behaviour but these cases are rare,” he notes.

How to deal with it 

Experts say that infants as young as one month can sense when their parent is depressed or angry and are affected by parent’s mood and emotions. This is another reason why mental wellbeing matters a lot during pregnancy.

According to Uzziel Manirareba, a medical psychologist, there are several mental health illnesses that can affect pregnant womens but the common ones include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – this can happen when a woman had a traumatic birth or experienced abuse. There is also Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression and panic disorder among others.

With such cases, counselling or therapy can be offered as treatment.

 “Early detection is the best protection. When mental wellbeing issues are recognised before it’s too late, they can be treated,’’ he says.

“Talking to a therapist is a great way to manage stress, deal with depression, and ease anxiety during child bearing period. Interacting with other mothers who know what you’re going through also can help,’’ he notes.

There are however, other things that can help a pregnant woman maintain mental health such as engaging in activities like yoga, meditation, exercises. Many women might also find comfort in talking to a friend, a social health worker.

Felix Dushimimana, a psychologist based in Kigali highlights that it is a concern for both parents to maintain mental wellness during the child bearing period.

“A partner’s support is important for the pregnant woman and the baby during this period of nine months. A mother who feels supported by her partner during and after pregnancy, feels happier and less stressed, and this boosts her mental wellbeing and reduces her worries as well. In my point of view, the baby also wants to feel his father’s love and affection, despite playing music or other physical activities, the father needs to make his partner comfortable and avoid conflicts,’’ he notes. 


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