Five Tips for Improving Your Mental Health During Your Pregnancy

Recent figures show that postnatal depression affects one in seven new Australian mothers. Sometimes, the condition may develop during pregnancy and ultimately can have serious consequences for the women afflicted and their families. Fortunately, there are ways to be proactive.

Here are a few tips to improve your mental health while pregnant:

Get closer to nature

Did you know that spending time in and around the great outdoors can actually give you a mental boost? Find small ways to get more exposure to nature, whether it’s a daily afternoon walk or drinking your morning coffee on the porch. Stuck inside working all day? If you work from home, station yourself somewhere with lots of windows and sunlight. If you’re in an office, take your lunch break outside. You can even spend the weekend exploring one of the country’s many beautiful parks (with your doctor’s approval). Whether you’re feeling a little down or just looking for something to do, spending time outside can be a great way to improve your mood.

Learn something new

Just as you should keep up with your physical exercise, it’s important to also work out your mind to keep it healthy. Your pregnancy will probably leave you with some free time, so take the opportunity to learn a new craft, skill, game, or other hobby. Take a cooking class or try creative writing, for example. Not only will you make your brain stronger, you’ll improve your confidence and attain a sense of progress and accomplishment. Plus, you’ll have a new passion to be excited about and keep you busy on your uncomfortable, frustrating days.

Keep your expectations realistic

TV, movies, social media, books, and magazines are constantly blurring the line between real life and fantasy when it comes to pregnancy, and that can lead to some major disappointments, confusion, and distress. But your pregnancy as a reality may not look exactly like you imagined it would, and that’s OK. Go by what your doctor tells you and try to drown out the white noise of other unsolicited advice. Remember: every woman’s body is different and will react to pregnancy a different way, so even your sister’s experience may be completely different than yours. It’s fine to ask for advice from others, but consult your doctor before making any big changes.

Control what you can

The mind is a powerful thing, and it can go crazy with what-if scenarios when you’re pregnant. What if the baby gets into something he shouldn’t? What if a dog at the park gets too close? What if he finds a way into the backyard unattended? There are a million possible negative scenarios, but put your mind at ease. The truth is there are actually quite a few things you can do now to keep everyone safe and happy.

While there are many things you need to do to prepare for bringing your baby home, you don’t have to do everything straight away as you will ‘grow’ into the stages as your baby does too. For example you may think that you need to childproof your home from top to bottom, but know that when you have your baby you can do this in stages as they start to move around. 
If you have pets talk to your mates with pets and children about what they did, as this can help with any concerns you may have. If you have a pool and are thinking about this, ensure that it is fenced to safety standards, but you can also get an extra sturdy pool cover if you are concerned. Enjoy and focus on your little one now, and on all the things you are doing well at this stage, and your mind should stop panicking.

Seek support as needed

If you’re having a tough time, don’t be afraid to reach out. Talk to your partner, doctor, or a loved one about how you’re feeling and let them know if something feels off. If you’re not sure you’re ready to confide in someone close to you, you can contact a support group that can offer advice and understanding. You may even be able to find a local pregnant mums group in your area where you can go for support, tips, and even just a place to vent your frustrations.
Don’t let the joy of childrearing escape you. If depression or anxiety is making your pregnancy even more of a challenge, reach out to a loved one or a professional. Work with your support system to face your issues head-on and take control.

About the author:

Lisa Marshall wanted to start after meeting some of her long-distance online friends on a trip. Being from the States, they had a lot of “typical” questions about living in Australia, and so Lisa decided to provide a newcomer’s guide — a go-to for any and all info on moving to or living in the country. She is particularly interested in spreading the word about the physical, emotional, and mental benefits that come from spending time in Australia's "great outdoors." Now that she invests a lot of time in her site, she continues to think about the safety, wellness, and overall lifestyle advice she can spread to Aussies and their visitors.