MENTAL HEALTH IN PREGNANCY: TOP TEN FACTS THAT MATTER.

1. Women who are living with mental illness can attain pregnancy. Mental illness can also occur for the first time in an expectant woman. 
2. It is known that pregnancy increases the risk of suffering a mental illness both during the pregnancy and upto 3 months after delivery. Therefore pregnancy does not protect against mental illness.
3. Depression occurs in approximately 1 in 4 of all expectant women. More than half recover without treatment.
4. Depression during pregnancy can affect the IQ of a child through poor diet.
5. The risk of suffering psychosis (break with reality, abnormal behaviour , disorganized speech etc) increases 20 times after delivery. 
 6. Common medications used for treating mental illnesses are not safe in pregnancy. Some are known to cause abnormalities in the unborn child while the safety of some of the medications in pregnancy is uncertain.
7. A woman who is on treatment for any mental illness (including epilepsy) and is planning a pregnancy should make an appointment with a psychiatrist to have a review in their medication and an updated plan of management.
8. Psychiatric illness is a risk factor for congenital malformation (defects present in a child at birth) as well as death of child shortly before or after birth. (Perinatal mortality). 
9. The most crucial period in the development of an unborn child is the 1st 8 weeks after conception. Unfortunately a majority of mothers may not be aware or sure of their pregnancy in this period. Hence the importance of no. 7.

 

10. Good mental health of the mother results in better self-care, wellbeing and development of the child. Those who need mental health services should be referred promptly and appropriately.

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