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Pregnancy

Psychological Effects of Pregnancy

Read more to discuss how pregnancy impacts your mental health and how to manage it.

Women during pregnancy, need to undergo regular medical care in order to ensure a healthy pregnancy. It mainly keeps birth-related complications and various others risk factors at bay during the prenatal stage. Consulting healthcare professionals during pregnancy also ensures that the mother is made aware of the various changes that go on in her body. Besides the visible physical changes, pregnancy is also like a roller-coaster of emotions for the expecting mother. The psychological and hormonal changes during this period of development can sometimes cause psychological effects of pregnancy like mental disorders amongst pregnant women and that is why just like physical health, the discussions regarding mental health concerns cannot be overlooked. 

 

It is absolutely normal

Even though almost all pregnant women are prone to mood swings, a few others might experience graver mental health issues like stress, depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, etc. in major to mild levels. The ones who are most often affected are mainly the women exposed to stressful or conflict situations and violence of any kind during pregnancy or in general. While, a few others might face these mental health issues due to an unplanned pregnancy, a previous pregnancy with some sort of complication or a miscarriage. However, you must take note of the fact that the problem does not lie in having these concerns but rather in ignoring and brushing them under the rug. The first step that you must take in such a situation is identifying it and if you find it unmanageable, seeking professional guidance from a psychiatrist or psychologist to receive adequate treatment or therapy.

 

How does it affect you and your unborn?

As we talk about the effects of pregnancy on your mental health, the most critical question that needs to be addressed is how it affects you and your baby. According to Dr. Vaishali Joshi, who is a senior obstetrician and gynaecologist at Kokilaben Hospital in Mumbai, some of the effects are as as follows:

 

  • For those women who are already on medications due to concerns related to their mental health, it is extremely essential to bring down the dosage of these medications to their minimum requirement as it may cause harm to the developing foetus. It should be done only after getting reviewed by a health professional because stopping the medications abruptly can also have adverse effects on the mother’s mental health in the form of withdrawal symptoms and weaker mental health conditions.

  • The unborn baby can sometimes develop certain growth defects and abnormalities due to the medications of the expecting mother. Therefore, it is extremely important to make sure that you are on the right drug. However, any such abnormality can be diagnosed through sonography scans.

  • It is true that mental health disorders can be treated effectively when diagnosed at the earliest and prompt treatment is received in an adequate manner. Therefore, it becomes essential for the expecting mother to keep her psychologist in the loop and ensure that she has people around her to share her agitation or mental distress with. 

  • Since, the pregnancy hormone can increase anxiety, one most definitely needs to add medicines to keep it under control. It is mainly because pregnant women as they undergo various bodily changes, might feel threatened by the same and see that as a problem.

 

Know when to seek help

Now that you know your concerns related to your mental well-being is nothing to be ashamed of, you should also know how to look for signs and when to ask for help. 

 

Listed below are some of such psychological effects of pregnancy that maybe an indication to seek help:

 

  • If you have been worried or weighed down by sadness consistently for more than two weeks
  • These negative thoughts have become a hurdle in your normal functioning abilities
  • If you face loss of interest, difficulty in coping or feeling of hopelessness
  • Your anxiety or worry does not leave you at all
  • You experience panic attacks and develop disorders like OCD

 

Strategies to maintain a healthy state of mind and cope with psychological effects of pregnancy

 

 

In order to manage your mental wellbeing during pregnancy, there are a plenty of things you can do, that might help you feel more in control or at peace:

 

  • Be gentle on your own self

If you are feeling low or stressed, don’t start to worry about that and put undue stress on yourself that you do not need. You are going through a big life change. Conflicting emotions, especially dramatic ones, are natural and part of the process. Be patient and kind with yourself. Emotions pass, and it is important to remember that.

 

  • Meditation and breathing

If you are feeling overwhelmed, meditation can help to calm yourself down and also overcome your negative thoughts and feelings. Deep breathing is a great form in this regard as it reduces stress and treats symptoms of depression.

 

  • Journaling to the rescue

Penning down your thoughts can also do the trick. As you write down about your thoughts and feelings when you are stressed or at times when your anxiety strikes, you find an outlet to let go of your negative emotions.

 

  • Being in touch with your loved ones

As you might feel greatly vulnerable during this time, you must try to be around your near and dear ones. Their care and support can work wonders on your entire journey to being a mother.

 

  • Indulge in your favorite pastime

Indulging in your hobbies and keeping yourself engaged with the activities that you enjoy the most like- listening to music, reading, baking, cooking, gardening, etc. can be a great way to keep your mental health intact during pregnancy.

 

  • You are not alone

You can join birthing classes and meet other pregnant women going through the same process. Reading books by experts or women who went through a similar experience might help you as well.

 

So, as the months roll by and your pregnancy progresses, always remember that these psychological effects of pregnancy like mental health issues and discomfort do not last. They are temporary but always require adequate attention and professional help. Therefore, your medical consultant must always be kept on the loop.

December 24, 2020 |  read

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Single Parents

Raising your Child as a Single Father

Are you a single father looking for some advice on raising your child? Do you want to know how other single dads are doing out there? Read more

Conversations about single parenthood are usually centred around the mother and rarely about fatherhood. Don’t worry daddies, we are here to talk about you. While you can figure out a few things easily, some can get really confusing when you are raising your child as a single father. Based on the experiences of other single dads, here are some tips, hacks and advice for you to make fatherhood more joyous.

 

Form a Bond

                                                        

As a father, you might feel like you would not be able to form a strong connection with your child like the mother would. While the role of a father and mother are usually different, when you are playing both the roles, you can definitely try and form the best bonds with your children. A single father of two 11-year old boys says that he feels like he has been able to connect on a deeper level with his children because he is a single father. He believes the same would not be the case if there were two parents involved.

 

Dedicate Some Time

                                                                

Spending time with your child(ren) is very important, both when they are just born and during the later stages. They are emotionally dependent on you and crave a lot of attention. Being a single dad, you might not be able to give them your whole day or stay with them all the time, but you surely can dedicate a couple of hours to them. Relax and watch a cartoon show with your child after you come back from work. Laugh with them, cuddle with them and make it a point to have dinner together. 

 

Reaching Out is Good

                                                                    

Everybody needs help at some point. While raising your child as a single father, you might want to reach out a lot, and that is a good thing! While you are at work, you would need a sitter or nanny or a family member to look after your kid. You would also need a few extra adjustments on the part of your colleagues and bosses to accommodate your schedule with child(ren). You might have to pick them up from school in the middle of the day or attend a PTA and at such times, ask your colleagues to cover for you.

 

Financial Plans

                                                                   

Many believe that it is slightly easier for single fathers to manage their finances as in a typical Indian society, it is traditionally assumed that men are breadwinners of the family. Nevertheless, it is very important for you to learn to budget your salary to support yours as well as your child’s needs. Teach your kids how money management works, let them know their spending limit in a month.

 

Build the Trust

                                                           

An experienced single father says that trust is the key factor in a father-child relationship. When you are a single parent, the responsibility to maintain and build that trust is relatively higher. You can start with simple steps like keeping them updated about your whereabouts, especially if you have parted with your partner through a divorce and your child has abandonment issues. You can also let your kid(s) know that you are available for them, whenever they need you.

 

Don’t Be a ‘Yes’ Sir

                                                                             

Overcompensation is never a good thing. Just because one of the parents is missing from the equation, there is no need for you to say ‘yes’ to everything your child asks of you. You can tell them no when they are doing something wrong. You need to be firm with them without being harsh; you balance that equation and you would be a golden dad!

 

Seek Therapy

                                                              

If you are a single father by choice, then you might be well prepared for everything that comes next. But if the responsibility of raising your child as a single father falls on you unexpectedly, then going to therapy can be one of the wisest choices you make. The father of a 7-year-old says that therapy did help him a lot while dealing with the changes in his life which included a divorce and an introduction to single parenthood. Seek help in the form of parenting tips when you need it. 

 

Mommy Talk

                                                             

It is a good plan to keep your child informed of his/her mother. If you guys might have separated, or she might have, unfortunately, passed away. Either way, talk to your child about it. Explain why the mother isn’t around. Help them understand how your little family is made up. Train them to proudly answer the questions their peers/friends ask them about your family structure. Of course, wait till your kid develops the emotional maturity to understand these things.

 

Daughter Dearest

                                                                

As a father, you can take the best care of your baby girl, but sometimes, she might need a female figure in her life to talk about certain things. She will need a bra or need to talk about her period and at these times, she might find it easier to talk to another woman. Dads, this doesn’t mean that she doesn’t trust you, it simply might be easier for her to talk to someone who goes through the same experiences as her. You could introduce her to a sister or close relative or close friend to guide through these times. 

 

The responsibilities can surely seem overwhelming and difficult to keep up with at times. But a father is every child’s favourite superhero. He/she would love and adore you no matter what. At the end of the day, that’s all it takes to make you feel like it is all worth it. Happy fatherhood, superdads!



 

February 15, 2021 |  read

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Adoption

Possible Psychological Problems faced by an Adopted Child - Emotional and Behavioral

Concerned about what might be bothering your adopted child? Let us understand better by delving deeper into their psychology.

Adoption, in a lot of ways, is not all that different from childbirth. Parenting in any of its forms, quite truly, is one of the most difficult yet rewarding experiences in life. Whether it is in your belly that you carried your child for most part of the year, or have spent a long time to complete your family coordinating with an adoption agency, when the child finally arrives, all you really want as a parent is to have a happy and healthy child.

 

However, adoption as a legal process can involve a lot of emotions and feelings for all the people involved - you as a parent, your partner, your family, and the adopted child. Further, it can make child care quite a challenge as many emotional and behavioural problems could occur. Every child needs hugs, lullabies, and ofcourse – their homework checked. While adopted children too face similar issues to the ones non adopted children face while growing up, given the temperament of an individual child, some experiences may directly be related to being adopted. As a result, adopted children may be more likely to struggle with emotions and behaviours. Whatever the nature of the problem may be, some kind of intervention becomes necessary. Especially during the adolescent years, the child will begin to explore their identity, and find a place in the world. 

 

To make sure that the health, progress, and well- being of your child is not hampered, let us look at some common psychological problems of adopted children that might occur, and what steps can be taken to reduce the probability of the child experiencing them.

 

Feelings of Grief or Loss

Certain behavioural problems in adopted children can come out of their sense of abandonment. If the child is old enough, he or she may grieve for their biological parents, grandparents, siblings, culture, or language. If feelings of grief, loss, anxiety, or even anger are left unexpressed and not attended to in this regard, it may stir up a sense of uncertainty. They might start to wonder if there is something wrong with them, or if their adoptive parents will leave them too. 

 

What is needed then is to make sure there is enough communication of thoughts and feelings. To be able to overcome these anxieties, the child must be talked to. Parents must provide the child with a safe outlet for self expression, and acknowledge their feelings. This will allow the child to feel secure and be comfortable with the adoption arrangement.

 

A Sense of Low Self- Esteem

As the child grows, he or she may face challenges with their self- esteem, which relates directly to their sense of value, identity, dignity, and belonging. The adopted child might think of himself or herself as different, somewhat out of place, and not the right fit in the society with others. It is when the child is ashamed or embarrassed of being adopted, they display a lack of self confidence.

 

To let them have a better sense of self while growing up, adoption should be looked at in a positive manner when being raised. A sense of self worth and self esteem in the child can be the result of healthy relationships between parents and their adopted child.

 

Formation of Identity

Development of Identity can be slightly complicated for kids that are adopted. They are likely to ponder over several questions like who their biological parents are, where they live, or why they were given up for adoption. It is like trying to put several pieces of a puzzle together. Identity formation begins during childhood and becomes more prominent into the teenage years. It is a sense of purpose that they seek from life in this setting of adoption, by filling these blanks. In such a case, an ‘open adoption’ (if possible) can be extremely beneficial for children as well as for adoptees.

 

Open Adoption

An ‘open adoption’ is one where the birth family and the adoptive family keep in touch for the sake of the child. Keeping in touch can mean different things - exchanging letters or mails, or making phone calls or visiting regularly. It is what suits best to both the parties. This kind of a set up makes the adopted child have tangible answers to several important questions. It helps them overcome challenges, and get a wholesome feeling while growing up. They truly understand their identity, and often even carry it with pride, knowing that their biological and adoptive families both love them a lot.

 

Over-Indulgence

At times, adoptive parents with sincere intentions tend to over- indulge their child. They may treat the adoptive child as someone “special” simply because he or she is adopted. They indulge the adopted child more than they would indulge the biological one. While it may be done out of sympathy and a pure heart, it can create additional anxiety, sadness, or fear for the adopted child. Parents may even not discipline the child if he or she misbehaves, thinking that may not have complete “right.” 

 

However, over-indulging any child does not lead to a positive outcome in the long run. The adopted child should not be treated any differently. Every child needs to understand that there are rules and that a little bit of discipline can go a long way. 

 

If nothing seems to work out, reach out to an expert - one that understands your child and you as a parent. With the right kind of assessment and intervention, the psychological problems can be managed and you and your child will learn to honour the positivity and strength that exists in your relationship as a family.

July 29, 2021 |  read

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Pregnancy

Depression During Pregnancy - Signs, Causes, Solution, How to Manage

While one expects the time of pregnancy to be a joyous ride, sometimes it can get stressful to a point that it becomes depression.

While one expects the time of pregnancy to be a joyous ride, sometimes it can get stressful to a point that it becomes depression. Since pregnancy means having a new person coming into our lives, we expect that the pregnancy will be a joyful journey. What we don’t anticipate is the other emotions that come with it. Those emotions are only natural, given that our lives will be changed forever and our bodies are going through a lot of changes trying to prepare itself to foster a life. We get scared because we think something is wrong with us for feeling all of this and that makes us feel worse. What you need to know is that more women experience scary and negative emotions than you hear of. It is only now starting to be talked about how much more common pre and post natal depression are. If you think this could be the case with you or someone you know, do not worry because you are not alone. The good news here is that it can be treated. All that needs to be done is to work towards how you or they are feeling, and navigate the next steps to attend to depression during pregnancy.  You can also schedule an appointment with a therapist who can guide you through this process.

 

First things first - What needs to be made clear is the idea surrounding the word ‘depression’. A lot of us may use the word very casually when we are sad, or witness someone else being so. Also it is good to keep in mind that when you approach someone who is pregnant, try not to lead with questions that may suggest to the pregnant person that their experience should be totally positive. It is to be noted that there is a huge difference between feeling disappointed, sad, frustrated, or lonely, and being depressed. Depression is a mental illness that somebody copes with. It is not to say that these feelings can not be deliberating, or excruciatingly painful. 

 

If a person is sad, they may not feel like wanting to get out of the bed, but when someone is diagnosed with clinical depression, they really are not able to. It is in the way people start to feel, think, and act that as an illness, Depression starts to affect them. Some women are at a risk of getting depressed while pregnant. Let us try to find out what causes clinical depression, what are some of the ways to cope with it, and how one can manage it. Here is what you need to know. 

 

Signs, Symptoms and Risk Factors 

Depression occurs gradually. It shows slowly, and the symptoms can vary from one person to another. There may be some additional signs that can indicate depression during pregnancy. They may be categorized from being mild, to moderate, to severe. Some of the signs are as follows :

 

  • Constantly feeling anxious about the baby.
  • No longer seeking pleasure from activities that were otherwise fun.
  • Feeling hopeless, sad, a sense of worthlessness.
  • Wanting to cry for no particular reason.
  • Experiencing a lack in energy.
  • Undergoing a certain change in appetite - either eating too much or too little.
  • Having troubles sleeping, or experiencing changing sleep cycle.
  • Finding change in libido.
  • Having upsetting and scary thoughts.
  • Feeling inadequate about the idea of parenthood.

 

Some of the factors that may put women at a higher risk than others include :

 

  • Mother’s history of any mental illness
  • A lack of family support
  • Monetary issues
  • Problems in marriage
  • Any mental illness or depression in the partner
  • Negative feelings about giving birth to a baby, and bringing up in the world
  • Life events that have had a negative impact
  • Substance abuse
  • Violence in the family
  • You could develop it even if none of these categories fit you.

 

Treatment of Depression During Pregnancy : Its Importance

If depression is left untreated during pregnancy, the kind of parental care one needs may not be taken care of. Important things like eating the right foods for the health of the baby, and taking care of oneself may be overlooked. While a few symptoms of depression during pregnancy include changes in energy levels, sleep, libido, appetite, they are also quite similar to those of pregnancy. If the to-be mother is reluctant to talk about the changes due to any preconceived notions about depression, the health care provider may not be able to help her out. Therefore, it is important to address problems in your meetings with the doctor. Your mental health is essential.

 

Types of Treatment

Given the right kind of treatment, depression can be cured. In order to manage depression, one or more of the following treatments can be taken up, depending on the severity of one’s depression. Some of the medicinal and non medicinal approaches include :

 

  • Talking to someone you trust, and finding comfort in discussing your issues with them. Indulge in talk therapy. 
  • Involving yourself in a network of people, family or friends for social support. It is a community that you can turn to in the time of need. You can seek parenting education outside, in this social group.
  • Indulging in therapy, and taking one-on-one sessions with their doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist or any other mental health care provider.
  • Consumption of Omega - 3 fatty acids that are essential can become natural boosters of your mood. Such foods include walnuts and oily fish.
  • Exposing yourself to sunlight or artificial sunlight at certain specific times in a day can help relieve symptoms of depression. It is called light therapy.
  • Medicinal intervention can be used to fight depression, and most often includes consumption of SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressants. Please consult your doctor before you decide on any, to discuss whether or not there are risks involved in their consumption. He or she will decide on the judicious amount that your body and the baby can take orally. 
  • Acupuncture might also help in influencing and lifting up mood.
  • Support group with other pregnant women facing the same issue.

August 02, 2021 |  read