Mental health

Mental health during pregnancy and for the first year after the baby is born is often called perinatal mental health. Perinatal is just a word that means the time between the start of your pregnancy up to roughly one year after giving birth. You may also here the term ‘antenatal’ that means before birth and ‘postnatal’ that means after birth.

Preparing for a baby brings huge changes and the future can often seem very daunting. You might have worries about work, money, being a mother, birth or the health or your baby.

Worrying about life changes, your body and your unborn baby are all very common – you are going through a huge change and this requires some serious adjusting!

Your changing body and your feelings

Having a baby has a huge effect on your body and this can affect how you feel. Some women love the experience of pregnancy and feel happy and strong. Others don't enjoy it and may not like how they look or feel. For example, you might worry about gaining weight or feeling sick and tired, which can make you feel miserable.

It's important to be kind to yourself. We often see pictures of women looking perfect and happy during pregnancy in magazines and on social media. But real life can be different. Not everyone feels great about the changes in their body during pregnancy.

It's normal to feel a little worried about how pregnancy might alter your body. If you have constant negative feelings that are overwhelming, it's important to get help. Talk to your midwife or doctor if you have any concerns or worries about the changes happening to your body during pregnancy. They can provide guidance and support.

Coping with pregnancy worries and stress

When you are pregnant it is completely normal to worry about issues that may affect you, your family and your baby.

You may have expected to feel happy and excited all the time during pregnancy, but it's okay not to feel that way. Many factors can influence how women experience pregnancy, and not enjoying it doesn't mean it was a mistake or that you won't love your baby. Everyone experiences pregnancy in their own way and you don’t need to feel guilty for not feeling happy 100% of the time.

The next few points are things you can do to help yourself get through it:

Don't bottle up your feelings

A wellbeing plan is a helpful tool that assists you in assessing your feelings and identifying the support you may need during your pregnancy and when the baby is born. It can be used to start conversations with your partner, family, friends, or midwife regarding your mental health.

Pregnancy and post-birth wellbeing plan

Deal with stressful issues one at a time

Handling pregnancy worries can be even more difficult if you're dealing with other issues in your life, such as being a single parent or having no support network. When feeling stressed, consider breaking down your worries into smaller pieces and looking at them one at a time, starting with the ones you can change or control. There are lots of mental health tools and apps in the NHS library that can help you cope.

Get support when you need it

It's normal to feel a bit worried or sad at times during pregnancy, but if these feelings stay around for a long time, it might be a sign of a bigger problem.

It can be tough to admit you're feeling down when everyone expects you to be happy and excited during pregnancy. But remember, mental health issues like depression and anxiety are common during this time, so you're not alone. Talk to your midwife or GP about your feelings. They can guide you to the right treatment and support to take care of both yourself and your baby.

You can also self-refer to Talking Therapies here: Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Talking Therapies.

Mixed emotions

Whether your pregnancy was planned or unplanned, it’s natural to have mixed emotions about it. You may swing from excited to worried, or happy to sad and back again. Pregnancy hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone can contribute to giving you this mix of emotional highs and lows, especially in the first three months.

Although it’s normal to have periods of worry and stress when you’re pregnant, some women have feelings that don’t go away and this can be a sign of something more serious.

Sex, pregnancy and emotions

It's entirely normal for your interest in sex to change when you're pregnant. Some women find it enjoyable, while others may not. This difference in desire can sometimes cause concerns for couples, especially if one person wants to have sex, and the other doesn't.

Remember, it's safe to have sex during pregnancy, unless your doctor or midwife has advised otherwise. Having sex won't harm your baby.

Having an open conversation with your partner about your sex life can be useful. Discussing how your feelings about sex have changed and the reasons behind these changes can help both of you. Talking now can give you a chance to tell your partner about any worries or tensions. Additionally, you may discover other ways to maintain intimacy that don't involve sex. If you have any concerns about sex during or after pregnancy, you can also consult your midwife for guidance and support.

Local activties

Breastfeeding network support groups (welcome mums to be).

  • Shelton Family Hub (Thomas Boughey Family Hub), ST4 2DQ Wednesday 10am – 11:30am
  • Bentilee Family Hub, ST2 0HP Monday 12:30pm – 2pm
  • Westfield Family Hub, ST3 4RF Friday 10am – 11:30am
  • Tunstall Family Hub, ST6 5TP Wednesday 12:30pm - 2pm

For more information, see our events page.

  • Bentilee Bumps, every other Friday at Bentilee Family Hub 9am-11am

Stoke-on-Trent Family Hub has partnered with the Solihull Approach to offer free access to expertly designed online courses for parents, carers, grandparents and teens living in the region. Click here to sign up and to access the course you need: In our place - Stoke-on-Trent.