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Mental Wellbeing in Pregnancy & Beyond: Connecting you with support & free resources

Pregnancy and childbirth are some of the most significant, exciting, and at times scary experiences that a couple will experience in their lifetime.
The mental wellbeing of the woman during pregnancy and the post-pregnancy period is therefore so important and crucial to the ongoing wellbeing of the whole family.

Conversations around mental health and pregnancy are often lacking and often stigmatized for fear of looking weak or vulnerable. This really upsets me as the vulnerability of this stage in life literally occurs for every single woman (you can read the stats here) and should be explored with curiosity and support, not shame and discomfort.
I am so passionate about guiding women towards their best pregnancy experience possible and supporting their mental health plays a huge role in that journey; vulnerabilities and all.
The best news yet is that there are so many valuable and accessible resources available to women right now in the moment that they need it. Gone are the days of having to see your GP to then get a referral to then work out a time to see a professional to get mental health support (which is not a bad way to get support!), now we have support, information and comfort at our fingertips, online and very often FREE.

Let’s close this disconnect between vulnerable, depleted women and the resources that were set up to support them. Let’s embrace reaching out for help and lets be real.. pregnancy and motherhood is not all smooth sailing and having a few tips, tools and connections can mean the world to a woman on their unique journey.

In this blog, I aim to bridge that gap by providing a wealth of accessible, real-time resources, tips and tools that I have learnt from my masters in repro med, my pregnancy and clinical experience, to help women and men mentally and emotionally through their pregnancy journey no matter what it looks.
I encourage you to bookmark this page even if you are not experiencing any mental fatigue or emotional stress as it may come in handy for a friend or yourself at a different stage of your journey.

What we know about supporting mental health during pregnancy

A 2017 study has shown mindfulness-based interventions can be beneficial for outcomes such as anxiety, depression, perceived stress and levels of mindfulness during the perinatal period.

Why online resources are so important

Many women will not seek or connect with mental health services or professionals because of a perceived stigma or negative experience in the past however when reflecting back on their pregnancy admit to feeling not themselves, anxious or depressed in this time. This is why a range of free, accessible resources both face to face and online are important. It gives the woman a choice in the type of care she would like and how engaged she would like to be in supporting her mental health.

Resources to support your pregnancy journey

If you are experiencing anxiety in early pregnancy..

1. Centre for perinatal psychology – talk through how you are feeling with a professional

2. Expectful meditation app – A haven of holistic care for moms: hopeful, expecting, and new

3. Headspace meditation app- A mindful pregnancy program taking you step by step through your journey

If you have experienced pregnancy loss, firstly I am sorry for your loss. You deserve all the support you feel you need and here are a few options:

1. Pink Elephant – miscarriage and early pregnancy loss support

2. Panda – Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia supports women, men and families

3. Bears of hope – Infant and pregnancy loss support

4. COPE – a database of health care professionals who focus on perinatal mental health

If you are feeling low, have a history of depression, or are having worrying thoughts during your pregnancy..

1. Spencer health – the perinatal collective a group of health practitioners who are passionate about providing dedicated services to families in the perinatal period

2. COPE – a database of health care professionals who focus on perinatal mental health

3. MumSpace supporting your mental and emotional health through pregnancy

4. Mum2BMoodBooster is a free online program designed to help women recover from depression during pregnancy and after birth

5. A moment for pregnant mothers – Carolyn Anne Budgell 10 minute meditation to connect you with your baby and calm the mind

6. Panda – Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia supports women, men and families

If you are feeling anxious about giving birth or would like to process the birth experience you had:

1. Birth Talk: healing from birth trauma

2. Ina May Guide to childbirth – an inspiring book about preparing for child birth3. Spencer health – the perinatal collective a group of health practitioners who are passionate about providing dedicated services to families in the perinatal period4. Calm Birth with Mel Webb breath work and mindfulness to support you through your birth5. Birth Ready – Help with the transition into life as a parent

If you want to connect with other women, feel part of a community and have your journey and voice heard..

1. Gidget Foundation Virtual Village – a private, moderated peer support group for expectant and new parents2. Managing motherhood – a safe, nurturing and non-judgemental small group meet up

If you would like to feel confident and calm in your pregnancy..

1. A moment for pregnant mothers – Carolyn Anne Budgell 10 minute meditation

2. The mum drum – podcast to help mums navigate the beautiful chaos of pregnancy and motherhood

3. Towards parenthood (book)4. Ready to cope receive free emails aligned with your due date filled with trustworthy and supportive insights, strategies and advice

4. Expectful meditation app – A haven of holistic care for moms: hopeful, expecting, and new

5. Headspace meditation app- A mindful pregnancy program taking you step by step through your journey

If you are a new parent..

1. Mum mood booster designed to help women recover from postnatal depression.

2. MumSpace supporting your mental and emotional health through pregnancy

3. MumMind App – You can rate your mood and get resources quick4. Tresillian is a not-for-profit early parenting service offering families guidance in the early years of their child’s life.

5. What were we thinking! app – Information, resources and reassurance for new parents navigating the highs and lows of life with a baby

6. Babysteps – Baby Steps is a free online program that aims to enhance the wellbeing of new mums and dads.

7. Expectful meditation app – A haven of holistic care for moms: hopeful, expecting, and new

If your baby was born prematurely..

1. Miracle Babies – Australia’s leading organisation supporting premature and sick newborns, their families and the hospitals that care for them.

If you are an expecting or new father..

1. DadSpace – providing support for the emotional health of dads

2. Raphael service – offer vital early-intervention counseling, therapy and support to baby’s fourth birthday, enabling mums and dads to thrive – emotionally, physically and as a family

3. Beyond Blue

4. Birthing Dads – gives you a clear pathway to fatherhood. A ‘how to guide’ for supporting birth and transitioning into fatherhood

5. SMS For Dads – SMS based support for fathers-to-be and dads

If you are anxious about giving birth during covid

RANZCOG response for pregnant women during covid 19

Other ways to support your mental health

– Take a walk daily

– Connect with loved ones and friends

– Eat a nourishing wholefood diet with balanced macronutrients

– Journal before bed

– Meditation for 5 minutes each morning

– Build your strength with pilates or personal training

– Take a dip in the ocean

– Enjoy a midday nap

– Connect with health care practitioners that give you time to speak, that are empathetic and non-judgemental and that are open and collaborative in supporting you
Want extra support through your pregnancy? It’s my focus area and I am currently seeing patients.

To book in for a free base chat to see if we are the right fit click here.
Author
Jennifer Ward, Adv dip Nat, BCom Econ, competing Masters Repro MedJennifer is a qualified naturopath with a focus on preconception, pregnancy, postpartum

Learn more about Jennifer here Book a session with Jennifer here

For speaking enquiries on this topic get in touch at hello@halsahealth.com.au


References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5693962/https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/four_reasons_to_practice_mindfulness_during_pregnancy

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