Pregnant women’s mental health impacts overall health of babies, finds study
Pregnancy, an exciting time for a woman, can also be challenging and stressful. In addition to the hormonal and physical changes, constant stress in anticipation of the new responsibilities, lack of support from family, and past or current substance abuse or mental health problem can put a would-be mother at a greater risk for developing mental disorders during pregnancy. While pregnancy brings its own set of challenges for a woman and her partner, any existing or a history of mental illness among pregnant women can lead to poor health outcomes for the baby, says a recent study by the Queen’s University, Belfast.
According to the study, almost one in five pregnant women in Northern Ireland reported having a mental illness, which, in turn, was linked to poor health outcomes for babies. Compared to women who did not report a history of mental illnesses, those who did were more likely to deliver premature and underweight children. For mental problems, women can avail medication along with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
As per Dr. Ciaran Mulholland, clinical senior lecturer in psychiatry at the Queen’s University, Belfast, the results provide clarity about something that was being interrogated for a long time. He added that premature birth and low birth weight were key factors in determining the development of the baby and can affect them in various ways.
Depression, schizophrenia and bipolar common among mothers
For the study, the researchers looked at data from 142,000 maternities in Northern Ireland between 2010 and 2015. Almost one-fifth of the participants reported a history of mental health disorders, including depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It was also found that mothers with a history of poor mental health were also likely to have a lower APGAR score, a test that assesses the overall well-being of a newborn. The study also revealed that between 2009 and 2013, mental health issues accounted for 3.7 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies in Northern Ireland.
According to psychiatrist and member of the research team, Dr. Janine Lynch, the findings “highlight the urgent need for investment in the provision of specialist maternal mental-health care in Northern Ireland.” This will help save lives and costs.
Maternal mental health is important
An estimated 10 percent of expectant mothers and 13 percent of those who have just given birth experience some form of mental health problem, primarily depression. In addition to affecting a mother’s health and overall quality of life, maternal mental health is also associated with the child’s growth and development. Additionally, after the birth of her child, a mother finds it difficult to get used to the new life with added responsibilities, lack of sleep, irritability, lack of time with partner, and fatigue. Those who are already grappling with a mental health issue can feel hopeless and suicidal that can hamper the mother-infant attachment and infant care.
It is important for women to realize that their physical health is as important as their mental health. A woman who is both physically and mentally fit can be in a better position to manage the challenges of pregnancy and motherhood. It is equally important for women planning to conceive to get their mental health assessed and seek the required treatment, in case they are diagnosed with any disorder.
Happy to help
If you are looking for a leading name in mental health treatment in the United States, Sovereign Health can help. Our depression treatment centers for women offer individualized treatment to women in a safe and supportive environment. We understand the unique needs of every patient and therefore, along with medication, we also offer other experiential treatments to help a woman become stronger and healthier.
For more information on our recovery programs or to locate our women’s depression treatment center, call our 24/7 helpline number and speak to a representative or chat live with a member of our team.
Get the latest news on program developments, behavioral health news and company announcements