We receive a number of questions about the effects of stress and depression on pregnancy. Here is some information that can help you better understand these conditions, how they can affect your pregnancy, and when you should talk to your provider.
Feeling stress during pregnancy is very common. There are so many changes happening all at once—to your body, your emotions, and your family—it is hard not to feel overwhelmed. But too much stress can make you uncomfortable. Stress can make you have trouble sleeping or have headaches. Regular stress during pregnancy, such as work deadlines and sitting in traffic, probably don’t add to pregnancy problems.
However, more serious types of stress may increase your chances for premature birth. Serious types of stress include:
We don’t completely understand the effects of stress on pregnancy. But stress-related hormones may play a role in causing some pregnancy complications.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PTSD occurs in some people after they have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. People with PTSD may have:
As many as 8 in 100 women (8 percent) may have PTSD during pregnancy. Women who have PTSD may be more likely than women without it to have a premature or low-birthweight baby. A 2014 study looked at the effects of PTSD on pregnancy. Researchers reviewed over 16,000 births and found that having PTSD in the year before delivery increased a woman’s chance of giving birth early by 35%.
Depression is a medical condition in which strong feelings of sadness last for a long time and interfere with your daily life. People who have depression need treatment to help them get better. About 1 in 5 women has depression sometime in her life. And 1 in 7 women is treated for depression at some time between the year before pregnancy and the year after pregnancy.
If you’re pregnant and have depression that’s not treated, you’re more likely to have:
Being pregnant can make depression worse or make it come back if you’ve been treated and are feeling better. If you have depression that’s not treated, you may have trouble taking care of yourself during pregnancy. And if you have depression during pregnancy that’s not treated, you’re more likely to have postpartum depression (PPD) after pregnancy. PPD can make it hard for you to care for and bond with your baby. Treatment for depression during pregnancy can help prevent these problems.
If you are concerned that you may have one of these conditions, please talk to your health care provider. She can help you to get the appropriate treatment so that you and your baby can be as healthy as possible.
We help moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies. And if something goes wrong, we offer information and comfort to families. We research the problems that threaten our babies and work on preventing them.
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