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Behind the beautiful baby bumps

Pregnant african woman using smartphone at home

The sight of a baby bumps is like a magnet, they never fail to captivate, drawing people in with eager hands, curious to feel the life within. A midst the adoration and excitement, pregnant moms often radiate happiness, glowing with anticipation for the arrival of their little one. However, behind the facade of smiles and glowing cheeks, lies a hidden struggle known as Antenatal depression. While some moms bask in the bliss of pregnancy, others find themselves slipping into a dark abyss, often without even realizing it. It’s like being lost in a maze with no map, where joy feels out of reach and every day is a battle.

Antenatal depression is a form of depression that occurs during pregnancy. It could occur during the first, second or third trimester or through the entire period during pregnancy. This is common and affects up to 1 in 5 expecting mothers but it is a type of depression that is easily overlooked. Some mums even have the feeling of guilt for feeling differently rather than feeling happy and grateful as the society expects, there fore they may shy away from expressing there feelings and go deeper into depression.

Young pregnant woman practicing yoga at home

Risk factors of antenatal depression.

  • Lack of support or strained support network
  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • Use of drugs and smoking during pregnancy
  • Personal or family history of depression or other mental health disorders.
  • Experiencing significant stress or life difficulties during pregnancy, e.g., financial strains.
  • History of reproductive loss vii. Sleep deprivation
  • Stressful or violent relationship with your partner.
  • Limited support from your parents when you were a child.
  • History of childhood trauma

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Symptoms of antenatal depression

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  • i. Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • ii. Overwhelming anxiety or worry about the pregnancy or impending motherhood.
  • iii. Changes in appetite or sleep patterns (either sleeping too much or too little).
  • iv. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed.
  • v. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions. vi. Feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
  • vii. Withdrawal from friends and family.
  • viii. Persistent fatigue or low energy.
  • ix. Thoughts of self-harm or suicide, and in some cases, panic attacks or intense fear.

It’s essential to recognize that experiencing some of these symptoms doesn’t automatically mean you have antenatal depression, but if you’re experiencing several of them consistently, it’s crucial to reach out to a healthcare professional for support and guidance. Early intervention and treatment can significantly improve outcomes for both the mother and the baby.

In Kenyan hospitals, screening for antenatal depression is uncommon, yet it’s a prevalent form of depression that can impact the well-being of both mother and baby. As a mother, it’s crucial to advocate for yourself by expressing your feelings to trusted friends, family, and your partner. Surround yourself with safe and supportive environments, consider journaling your emotions, prioritize self-care, Indulge in nourishing foods and participate in mindful exercises. Remember, you’re not alone, and speaking up is a powerful step towards healing.

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