Preventing Prenatal Depression

Friday, October 11, 2013 11:35 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
Preventing Prenatal Depression
Dr. Jill Diana Chasse

Prenatal Depression is a serious issue that often gets overlooked by both women and their healthcare providers. Depression during pregnancy not only causes sadness for the mother, it can also have significant developmental effects in the fetus, including altering of the baby's brain structure leading to increased vulnerability for mood disorders in the child's future. Additionally, depression during pregnancy may cause early delivery and a preterm baby.

One of the main determinants of depression during pregnancy, although it is often ignored or not given the attention it deserves, is stress. Stress can be cultural, environmental, or social. A parent may give an adult child a hard time for having a child with a spouse they disapprove of, society may disapprove of a lesbian mother's choice to carry a child, co workers may belittle a single mom for being artificially inseminated, etc, all leading to environmental and social stress. There are religious prejudices and lifestyle issues as well as heredity and personal choice such as where to birth and who to have as a practitioner. Stress not only has an effect on the mother, raising blood pressure, causing headaches and digestive problems and of course mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. It also directly related to the child's development. More stress correlates to less synapses, potentially stunting brain development or leading to behavioral issues and disorders.

SO what is the best way to avoid stress, decrease the chance of prenatal depression and increase a healthy and safe pregnancy and birth? The answer lies with both the mom and her care provider. It should be a team effort of respect, understanding and strong communication.

First preparing for the emotionally for baby is just as important as physically. Get to know the child growing inside you, talk about your worries, fears and apprehensions with friends and loved ones, knowing it is normal to have concerns. Also pay attention to your physical habits and stay active with a healthy diet. This significantly reduces stress and tension.

You should also talk to your provider about your feelings. Not all care providers understand mental health issues. Some pregnancy care providers discuss emotional and psychological issues with their moms, test for signs of prenatal depression and regularly refer out if more support is needed. Other providers reflect strong stigma with mental health issues or have misunderstandings, assuming that depression is more prevalent in the postpartum period so they avoid discussions and ignore the signs. Educating providers is key in reducing stress and depression. It is important that all pregnancy care providers have a thorough understanding and respect for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and understand how to recognize and either treat or refer when symptoms present.

If depressive symptoms are identified, getting treatment is still an issue. There are many barriers and obstacles that pregnant women face including treatment location and options as well as personal concerns about embarrassment, weakness or mental illness stigma. Understanding that depression is not a sign of weakness or or sign of a bad parent is extremely important. A mother's strength actually reflects in her ability to admit the need and reach out. We are all just human and it's okay to ask for help.

Depression during pregnancy is a serious issue that warrants better attention, focus and care. Our children deserve healthy physical and emotional environments to develop in, and our mothers deserve support. Support yourself, your baby, and your family by understanding this mental health issue and reaching out if needed.

Dr. Jill Diana Chasse is maternal/child public health practitioner, an author and a counselor. Jill has been working with the mother-baby dyad in birth and psychology for over 20 years.

She has studied midwifery at both Ancient Arts Midwifery Institute and Institute of Holistic Midwifery, holds Master's degrees in Psychology and Public Administration, and a Doctorate in Health Administration.  

Personally, she loves the ocean, skiing, horseback riding, and cuddling up with her kids, hot coffee and a good book in front of a fireplace on a snowy evening.

Currently, she works in public health for the federal government and teaches classes for the Childbearing Year at Wise Woman University, online, including the childbirth education method she founded, BEBE- Baby-Empowered Birthing Education.

Listen to a 30 minute radio interview with Jill Diana Chasse

Study with Jill Diana Chasse Online

~ Pregnancy and Postpartum Mental Health Support ~
  ( link to detailed description of Pregnancy and Postpartum Mental Health Support )

Manage pregnancy and postpartum emotional challenges including baby blues and PPD symptoms to help reduce the risk of depression and keep yourself and your baby mentally and emotionally strong.  REGISTER HERE

~ BEBE - Baby Empowered Birth Education ~
( link to detailed description of BEBE )

Baby-Empowered Birth Education is a Complimentary Natural Childbirth method for use with or without medications, at home, birth center, or in a hospital with key concepts of "Experiencing, Understanding and Enjoying" your labor and delivery through emotional support, empowering yourself, and empowering your baby. REGISTER HERE

~ BEBE Childbirth Educator Certification Program ~
  ( link to detailed description of BEBE for Educators )

Become a "Baby-Empowered Birthing Education" Certified Childbirth Educator offering women and babies an empowering, magical, enlightening, and passionate natural choice for childbirth education, encouraging them to "experience, understand and enjoy" the Magic of Motherhood! REGISTER HERE

This is an online workshop intended for parents who have lost a baby during pregnancy or after birth. It is a self paced, guided tour through the healing process to work through grief and bereavement issues. Working through these issues in this format is especially helpful in the early stages of grief when the shock and pain is still raw.

Baby Magic for your Magic Baby
By Jill Diana Chasse

Baby Magic is a Spiritual Guide to Motherhood. Beginning before conception, Baby Magic guides a woman on her magical journey of becoming a mother.


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