The bad news? All parents are at risk for an emotional health condition around pregnancy and childbirth. Even with few or no risk factors a parent can develop a Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder. However, there are some factors known to greatly increase risk and can be reduced through planning and extra support when possible.
Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders can develop during pregnancy or after the birth of any child, not just the first.
The risk increases if:
- You have a history of depression, either during pregnancy or at other times
- You had postpartum depression after a previous pregnancy
- You have a history of sensitivity to hormone changes (birth control, PMS etc.)
- You’ve experienced stressful events during the past year, i.e. pregnancy complications, illness or job loss
- You’re having problems in your relationship with your spouse or significant other
- You have few supportive family members or friends
- You have financial problems
- The pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted
- You have prolonged sleep-deprivation
- You have utilized fertility measures i.e. Clomid, IVF
- You have a baby with medical issues, a NICU stay etc.
- You have a childhood or lifetime history of stressful or traumatic events, including childhood neglect
The risk of postpartum psychosis is much higher for women who have bipolar disorder.
To see what you can do to minimize your risk, please see our tab on Quick Tips and Treatment. These are all also proven preventative measures. Please talk to your healthcare provider for suggestions. In a nutshell, do whatever you can to improve your support system, guard your sleep and reduce stress in your life. Have a plan in place with extra resources lined up in case you start to feel unlike yourself for more than a two week period.