I am thrilled to have a guest blogger speaking about Antepartum Depression, this is not something I’m familiar with, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share with you all. Make sure you leave Tiffany some love in the comments for sharing her story and some advice!
When I became pregnant with my first child, I started feeling some anxiety. I would envision myself on a walk after she was born, and then someone would come steal the stroller from me. Or I would be driving down the road, and suddenly I could clearly “see” myself in a horrific car accident that would cause too much damage to my abdomen for the pregnancy to be saved.
It’s typical for first-time moms to be nervous about when the babe comes, so I thought I was just normal. I mentioned it once or twice to friends, and they would all assure me that they all had the same thing happen to them.
And then the nightmares began.
These weren’t regular nightmares. They were real. Every night, I would find out my husband of less than two years was having an affair because I was getting too fat.
While I knew in my head this was ludicrous, I couldn’t shake the feeling. I would wake up each morning, dreading when my husband would leave for the day because it meant I could no longer reassure myself that he wasn’t cheating since he wasn’t in my sight.
I had these nightmares every single night. For weeks. They got more and more real, and after a few months, I couldn’t really distinguish between my dreams and reality. I tripled my exercise and cut my calorie intake in half because I kept hearing my husband’s voice from my dreams mocking me for being fat, asking, “How could I ever still love you when you look like that?”
Until one day, my baby stopped moving. For an entire day and a half, I felt nothing from my 31-week belly.
My husband rushed me to the hospital, where they monitored my baby’s heartbeat and pumped me full of fluids. When I admitted to my doctor that I hadn’t eaten anything in about 24 hours, he insisted I eat lunch.
I still remember the look of horror on my poor, clueless husband’s face when I confessed everything that had been going on.
Thankfully, I had a kind and understanding OB/GYN who explained to me that almost 20% of women experience antepartum depression, which is depression that occurs during pregnancy. I’d always heard of postpartum depression, and even knew what to look for once the baby was born, but I hadn’t realized it could be happening while my baby was still inside of me!
Just knowing what was happening and where these thoughts were coming from made a tremendous difference. Then with proper counseling, medication, and my now-informed husband, I was able to control it through the rest of the pregnancy.
Thankfully, I did not have postpartum depression with my first pregnancy. Most women who experience antepartum depression will then go on to have postpartum depression.
When my second pregnancy hit and I began having vivid, disturbing dreams of my innocent husband molesting our now-two-year-old daughter, I was able to recognize it right away. I spoke frequently with both my husband and my OB/GYN. This allowed this pregnancy to go more smoothly, and I even was able to recognize my postpartum depression more quickly.
So often, husbands and friends are told to keep an eye out for symptoms of post-partum depression after a child is born. What is rarely spoken of is antepartum depression We need to be looking out for the same symptoms months before the child is even born.
It is almost more dangerous because the antepartum depression is often chalked up to pregnancy hormones. We assume that we’re just having “pregnancy brain,” we’re overly tired, etc.
But if left untreated, antepartum depression can lead to premature birth, low birth weight, and developmental problems. It directly affects the physical health of the child, since their nutrition is entirely dependent on the mother’s.
My daughter (my first child) was born full-term at 37 weeks, weighing only 4 lbs 8 oz.
Some of the symptoms of antepartum depression include:
- Persistent sadness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Loss of interest in activities you typically enjoy
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Change in eating habits
- Recurring thoughts of death, suicide, or hopelessness
As you go through your pregnancy, or as you watch the pregnancy of someone else, please keep an eye out for these symptoms! Sometimes, yes, you’ll encounter these while pregnant (especially sleeping too much or a change in eating!).
However, they could be a sign of something more serious, like antepartum depression.