Depression During Pregnancy: How It Affects Your Baby

Dr. Laura Tanzini

Pregnancy is supposed to be a happy time. You’ve heard about the pregnancy glow, right? It’s a fun time when you set-up the nursery and open shower gifts. Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life but it can also be an emotionally unsettling time. Women are more at risk of depression while they are pregnant. The risk continues after the baby is born resulting in what doctors call post-partum depression or the baby blues. If you or someone you love is expecting a new bundle of joy and struggling with depression, learn more here about how depression affects the baby and how you can get help at a major depressive disorder treatment center.

Depression is Common

You should be happy, so why don’t you feel happy? First, let’s do away with the word “should.” Of course, having a baby is an exciting time and you’re looking forward to meeting your new son or daughter. But your body is going through a huge amount of change in a short time. During pregnancy, hormones change. The changes affect chemicals in the brain. In many women those hormone changes cause depression. You’re not alone. According to the March of Dimes, depression affects 10% of women in the United States. About 15% of women experience depression during pregnancy. In many, the depression carries over to the first year of their child’s life. Understanding the symptoms of pregnancy-related depression is the first step toward getting help.

Signs of Depression

How do you know you’re depressed? Sometimes, pregnant women don’t realize they’re depressed. It’s not uncommon to assume you feel a little down because you’re pregnant. Unless you discuss it with your doctor, you may not know the signs of depression. Depression isn’t like a cold or a stomach virus. It takes time for symptoms to develop and symptoms aren’t the same for every woman. Symptoms may be mild, moderate or severe. The most common symptom is a feeling of sadness. You might feel hopeless. You may cry for no apparent reason. Some women experience changes in appetite. You might overeat or have no interest in food. Your sleep patterns may change and you might either sleep too much or not be able to sleep. Another common symptom of depression is lack of interest or pleasure in things you usually enjoy. Even if you only experience one of these signs of depression, consider visiting one of the major depression treatment centers for women. If you don’t get help, it may cause problems not only for you but for your baby too.

Depression and Your Unborn Baby

Pregnant women who deal with depression sometimes turn to coping mechanisms like smoking or drinking. They’re also less likely to eat a healthy diet. They may also avoid consistent prenatal care. These behaviors directly affect an unborn baby.

Another problem caused by untreated depression in pregnant women is high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. High levels of cortisol during pregnancy may contribute to premature birth and low birth weight. Newborns of depressed moms also have higher levels of cortisol than babies born to mothers who aren’t depressed. These babies are often born with difficult temperaments and are hard to soothe. According to Psychcentral’s Rick Nauert, PhD., children of depressed parents are at an increased risk of developing depression themselves.

There’s good news if you’re suffering from pregnancy-related depression. Contact Kinder in the Keys, Inc. today and take steps to protect your health and the health of your unborn baby.


Author Bio

Dr. Laura Tanzini, DrPh, MA, MFT

Dr. Laura Tanzini is a highly educated and accomplished professional with a background in biology and psychology. She received a BS in Biology from UC Riverside, an MA in psychology from Phillips Graduate Institute, and a Doctorate in Public Health with a specialty in Lifestyle Medicine from Loma Linda University.

Dr. Laura Tanzini is a Board Certified Professional Counselor, Integrative Medicine Clinician, and PTSD Clinician. She has worked in multiple medical hospitals, mental health institutions, and inpatient eating disorder clinics. Also, Dr. Tanzini has written scholarly papers and spoken on various topics related to nutrition, stress, menopause, obesity, depression, anxiety, and human development.