Tips for improving mental wellbeing in pregnancy

Some mums expect to feel excited and happy throughout their pregnancy. Unfortunately this isn't always the case, but there are things you can do to take care of your mental health.

Feeling emotional during pregnancy is common because of hormonal changes. So, it’s natural to feel more stressed or anxious than usual.  And, as expectant mums, your emotional wellbeing can easily be overlooked with all the focus being on your growing baby.

There are lots of practical ways to look after your emotional wellbeing. The following suggestions are based on things mums have told us they did to cope with dark days in pregnancy.

"I didn’t really want to see people, do anything. I felt unenthusiastic about being pregnant, didn’t really want to prepare for it, wasn’t very quick at buying baby clothes or to decorate nurseries or doing anything like that. I just wanted to ignore it and whenever I did think about it, I just felt really anxious about it all."

Talk it out

Being a mum can be a lonely business so getting to know other parents can be a lifesaver. You can share the woes of parenthood and laugh at the not-so-funny aspects of being a mum, or being pregnant.

Find out about antenatal classes near you. You might meet mums expecting babies at a similar time. If you’re feeling shy out and about, see what’s happening online. Chatting to people on forums like Mumsnet  can be a useful outlet for your fears and worries.

Don’t forget your midwife is also there for you if you need to talk.

"The support I've received from my friends has been beyond incredible, from the random ‘How are you and baby doing?’ texts, to the casual banter, to the ‘I really need someone’ chats. On one occasion a set of friends just dropped what they were doing to come to my house and get me out because they knew I was in a state. I couldn't feel more blessed to call these guys my friends."

Find out when to get help.

Exercise

You could try swimming, walking, running, dancing, yoga. Whatever works for you, keep doing it through pregnancy.

Exercise gives you a chance to focus on something different, and is great for you and your baby’s health. A surge of endorphins, or stress-relieving stretches, can help you feel good and sleep better.

"I loved pregnancy yoga. It was ‘me’ time and I felt so relaxed afterwards."

Find out more about exercise in pregnancy.

Try meditation, breathing techniques or hypnobirthing

Many mums find meditation and breathing techniques help them relax in pregnancy and manage pain in labour.

"The best thing I did was meditation, including positive visualisation. After a difficult first birth I found I could create my own positive space and vibe the second time. I felt calm and together even when I was in pain. The meditation also gave me space in my pregnancy from being the mum of a toddler."

Find out more about hypnobirthing.

Treat yourself

Why not book a treat for every month of your pregnancy? This could be anything from a cinema trip or dinner out to a massage or manicure.

It will give yourself something to look forward to, away from all thoughts of pregnancy and babies (and other children if you have them).

"I booked a one hour treatment each week before my due date. I had a bit of a back massage or reflexology, depending on how I felt. Best money I ever spent!"

Get extra support

Get some help if you’re struggling to cope emotionally, or physically, with your pregnancy. Whether it’s help with housework, or shopping, or childcare. Try not to exhaust yourself.

"I was feeling exhausted and emotional all the time in my second pregnancy. I decided to put my son with a childminder for six hours each week and just have some ‘me’ time, or a chance to do the chores leisurely."

Consider counselling

Sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone that doesn’t know you. Counselling can provide a safe space to voice all your worries and try to make sense of or control any negative thoughts. You may be able to refer your yourself to a local NHS counselling service or you could ask your GP for a referral. You could also pay for private counselling.

"Counselling got me through the first trimester of my second pregnancy, following a missed miscarriage. I was consumed by anxiety to the point where I felt I couldn’t function at work or home. I was obsessed with the idea that it would happen again. Counselling gave me space to talk about my worries and grieve for my first baby. The therapist also gave me techniques for managing my anxieties."

Find out what help and support is available.

Try complementary therapies

If you’re finding it hard to relax, you might want to try a complementary therapy, like acupuncture, reflexology or shiatsu. Complementary therapies are generally safe to use in pregnancy but check with your midwife before you try anything. You should also always use a qualified practitioner for any treatments.

"I found pregnancy a nuisance, rather than a joy, second time around. I was so distracted by my demanding, energetic toddler, I hardly had any time to think about being pregnant. This made me feel horribly guilty and ungrateful."

Find ways to connect to your baby

Mothers have told us that focusing on the baby for a short time each day helped them feel better about their pregnancy.

"I tried to spend some time each day focusing on the baby - it could just be putting my hands on my tummy when they’re kicking. Thinking about my baby, rather than everything else that was going on around me, helped just a little bit."

Go to antenatal birth classes

Sometimes worrying about your baby’s birth can weigh you down and affect you throughout your pregnancy.

Getting ready for labour  by finding out about your options and ways to manage fears and pain, such as hypnobirthing, can help you relax and enjoy pregnancy more.

Find out about local childbirth classes and talk to your midwife about all your options.

Find out more about antenatal classes here.

Talk to your midwife

If your anxieties or moods are affecting your day-to-day life, please don’t hesitate to talk to your midwife. Lots of mums feel this way and your midwife is there to help you. Download our Wellbeing Plan to help you find the right support.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to feel good. 

'I always called my midwife if I had any problems, or the day assessment unit. They have been a great help and reassuring. I've gone over my due date by 10 days now so there is no way I cannot feel tired and worried.'

Don’t forget, you can also call our Tommy’s Pregnancy Line on 0800 0147 800.

Ask for help

Pregnancy can be a very emotional experience  and it can sometimes be difficult to know whether your feelings are manageable or a sign of something more serious. Trust yourself.You are the best judge of whether your feelings are normal for you. Talk to your midwife or GP if you are feeling low for more than two weeks.

Read more

Last reviewed on October 17th, 2018. Next review date October 17th, 2021.

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Comments

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 23 Mar 2018 - 16:00

    I just wanted to say I found it great that this article didn't mention asking your partner/husband for help. as a single mom it is so stressful that articles always assume you have a partner who's going to give you a massage, etc... the lack of having a partner is often a big cause of stress in the first place, so it's always so annoying when articles assume there is one! so thanks for that!

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 23 Mar 2018 - 16:35

    Hi,
    Thank you very much for your feedback and glad you found this article useful.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

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