In January of 2015, my husband and I found out we were expecting our third baby. This was good news. We were thrilled but more than anything, I was relieved.
So when I found out I was pregnant after feeling like a crazy person for several weeks, I was so relieved. “Oh good, Im not crazy. I’m just crazy hormonal. I can handle this.”
I was suffering from prenatal depression and anxiety, which I learned is actually pretty common.
I had hoped it would only be a first trimester thing, much like morning sickness. Unfortunately, I never really felt like myself again until weeks after giving birth. And even though I thought I could handle it, I think everyone else ended up handling me.
It was a long, scary nine months, but I’m hoping that what I learned can be an encouragement to others who might find themselves in the same situation. So if you think you’re suffering from prenatal depression, below are a few things that might help you get through it.
How to Get Through Prenatal Depression
TALK ABOUT IT
Don’t keep your feelings to yourself. Find someone that you do feel comfortable talking to. I always felt better after expressing my feelings to others, even though they were sometimes hard to explain.
TALK WITH YOUR MIDWIFE OR OBGYN
In my case, low levels of vitamin D and iron were contributing to my feelings of anxiety and my prenatal depression. If you talk to your healthcare provider, they can order tests that might reveal a deficiency that you can easily take supplements for.
PICK UP THE PHONE
I pretty much hate talking on the phone. But a sweet friend of mine reminded me that hearing another person’s voice is much different than just receiving a text. So, when I was really struggling, I’d call my mom. And sometimes I couldn’t even say hi before I started to cry. There were times I called her three times a day. And it helped, a lot.
This can be hard to eat well when you’re sick, tired, and pregnant. From food cravings to food aversions, it’s hard enough to eat well when you’re not depressed. I did find though that when I made sure I was getting enough protein and fruits and veggies, I felt a lot better.
GET MOVING AND GET OUTSIDE
One of my favorite quotes comes from Legally Blonde: “Excerise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy and happy people just don’t kill their husbands.” Exercise is one of the best cures for depression. And it’s even better if you can do it outside. We have beautiful weather here in Albuquerque most of the year. So if you’re feeling blue, walk to the mailbox, play with your kids at the park, or go for a hike.
KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS
I kept notes of my emotions in my planner, writing down good days and bad days. Eventually I was able to pin point things or situations that triggered my prenatal depression. Then I could avoid them or take steps to make them easier.
PLAN OUT YOUR WEEK
You’re less likely to make bad food choices or spend money based on your emotions if you have a plan. And I found that when I planned out my week, I had things to look forward to.
“Interrupt anxiety with gratitude.” I’m not sure where I found that saying, but it became my motto, my screen saver, the name of my blog, and a frequently used hashtag. When I felt anxious, I would try to list the things I was thankful for. It’s harder to be anxious when you view everything as a blessing or a gift you didn’t deserve in the first place.
DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE
Have you ever noticed how your problems don’t seem so bad when you hear about other people’s troubles? I almost always felt better when I was focused on blessing and serving others.
Instead of checking up on your “friends” on Facebook, get into a good book or watch a funny show. (Only one or two though! TV binging isn’t really great when you’re fighting prenatal depression.) Or start on a project like organizing your closet or making a quilt. These are great distractions that can help you get your mind off of your depression.
REMEMBER GOD’S PROMISES
Prayer and time reading the Bible were vital for me during this time.
Prenatal depression is different for everyone and what worked for me might not work for you.
It’s very important that if you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or your kids to get help right away, and there isn’t anything wrong with taking medication. But know that you’re not alone and whether you use medications or not, you can get through it.
If you need help, reach out to your medical provider. Also, see this list of local mental health crisis resources.
Originally published January 2016.