Emotional Well-being during Pregnancy: Janitri's Approach to Maternal Mental Health

Sep 2111 min read


Table of Content

Role of Maternal Mental Health in Pregnancy
What is Janitri's Approach to Maternal Mental Health?
Understanding Pregnancy-Related Emotional Challenges 
Common Emotional Challenges Faced by Pregnant Women
Impact of Emotional Stress on the Mother and Baby
What Approach Should be Taken to Tackle Mental Health?
Tips For Maintaining Emotional Well-Being During Pregnancy
Mindfulness and Stress-Reduction Techniques 
Breathing Exercises and Relaxation Techniques
Nutrition and Exercise for Emotional Well-being 
Summing up, 

Pregnancy is a happy time- the most joyful, rewarding, and exciting. However, it can be worrying and stressful as women experience emotional difficulties throughout their pregnancy. 

On a journey to becoming a new parent, they will encounter major changes in their life including relationships, finances, body changes etc. Being emotionally well helps mothers deal with the changes they are constantly experiencing.  

Further, the baby is exposed to what a mother experiences emotionally and physically. If a mother is calm, the baby will grow in a happy and calm environment. 

Role of Maternal Mental Health in Pregnancy

As per WHO, maternal mental health is “a state of well-being in which a mother realises her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her community.”

Many women experience baby blues, mild symptoms of dysphoria after 10 days of giving birth. Moreover, postpartum depression may continue 2 weeks after postpartum. 

Even when women are diagnosed with mental health issues, they are not able to get connected with mental health care. The barriers include the stigma, conflicting medical appointments, lack of time, trust, and insurance.   

What is Janitri's Approach to Maternal Mental Health?

Janitri aims to provide quality care through digital solutions to the expecting mother and baby in the womb. The 1000-day journey of a mother from the conceiving stage till the child is 2 years old is the most life-changing journey for a mother-to-be. 

Even frequent checkups and hospital visits cannot ensure the safe birth of the child without any last-minute complications. To protect the expectant mother and baby, it is important for women to be stress-free and calm. One way of providing peace of mind to the mothers is by monitoring the heartbeat of their baby or performing NST at home. 

Understanding Pregnancy-Related Emotional Challenges 

We know women go through emotional changes and struggle to deal with them in different phases of pregnancy. But, do we know what those pregnancy-related emotional challenges are? 

If you understand the challenges, it will be easier to find solutions and deal with them.

Common Emotional Challenges Faced by Pregnant Women

Here are a few common challenges listed down below along with the tips to manage them throughout pregnancy.

Hormonal Changes and Mood Swings During Pregnancy

The physiological and hormonal changes that come with pregnancy are unique in their own way. The sudden increase in progesterone and estrogen levels that women experience during pregnancy doesn’t just affect their mood but also:

  • Alter physical activity and exercise on the body. 
  • Aid in fetus development

Pregnant women experience mood swings during the first trimester between 6-10 weeks and the third trimester when their body prepares for birth. 

However, mood swings are normal and can be coped by managing your stress level by:

  • Enrolling in meditation and pregnancy yoga classes
  • Being kind to yourself
  • Eating well and rest well
  • Getting regular physical exercise
  • Taking frequent breaks 

Anxiety and Fear of the Unknown

The fear of the unknown and losing control result in anxiety, especially for first-time mothers. It’s normal to be a little scared, but you can handle the fear by educating yourself, and getting enough support and reassurance. 

By understanding the process and knowing what to expect, you are allowing yourself to experience confidence in your parenthood. 

Body Image and Self-Esteem Issues 

Research shows that there is a significant correlation between psychological well-being and positive body image during pregnancy. The changes result in perceiving a negative body image. 

The negative body image results not only because of changes in body shape, weight, and appearance, but also changes in health & fitness. 

The weight changes in the body during pregnancy are due to: 

  • Increased blood volume 
  • Enlarged breast size, growing fetus, amniotic fluid and placenta
  • Fat redistribution

Negative body image results in depression and it can perpetuate negative feelings and thoughts about the body. It lowers the confidence of being in public and discussing body weight with people. 

If a woman shares their life events on social media, it allows hate comments and criticism which furthers humiliation and self-doubt.  

Impact of Emotional Stress on the Mother and Baby

Emotional stress during pregnancy is harmful for both the mother and the baby. From pregnancy complications to fetal development and physical health issues, the mother and the baby are both at risk if the mother is not emotionally well during pregnancy. 

Some women face complications in their pregnancy that may affect the fetus’s health, the mother’s health or both. Some of the most common complications are:

  • Stillbirth: Stillbirth happens when loss of pregnancy after the 20th week of pregnancy. Health conditions that may contribute to stillbirth include infection, chronic health issues of the mother, poor fetal growth, placental problems, and chromosomal abnormalities. 
  • Miscarriage: If the pregnancy loss happens before 20 weeks, it is called a miscarriage. The signs include tissue or fluid passing from the vagina, cramping, bleeding or vaginal spotting. 
  • Preterm Labour: Any child born before 37 weeks is a preterm labour and can result in increased health problems. 
  • Preeclampsia: It is a serious medical condition that can result in death or preterm delivery. 
  • Infections: Infections like STDs may be possible during pregnancy or delivery that can lead to further complications. 
  • Gestational Diabetes: Pregnant women with no diabetes before are at higher risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy. 
  • High Blood Pressure: Hypertension is common in pregnancy as pressure increases in the arteries making it hard for blood to reach the placenta to provide oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. 

The psychological distress mothers experience such as depression, anxiety or stress is associated with fetal brain development. Maternal stress influences a child’s behaviour and their ability to regulate their emotions. 

In a study, the hormone cortisol in mothers is related to a baby’s brain development. Cortisol is involved in how the body responds to stress. The higher the cortisol levels, the higher will be the stress impacting fetal growth.  

The stress in the womb affects a baby’s neurobehavioral development and temperament. If mothers experience high levels of stress in the first trimester, the infants may show signs of irritability and depression.  

As an expecting mother, if you are dealing with too much stress, it will negatively result in numerous physical health issues. High levels of stress result in high blood pressure, increasing your chance of having a low-birth-weight infant or a preterm labour.   

Preterm infants may deal with a range of complications later in life, such as infant mortality, learning disorders, developmental delays or lung disease. Some compelling evidence from animal research and epidemiological studies is that babies experiencing stress in the uterus are more likely to develop chronic health issues as adults, including, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. 

Moreover, if a mother is stressed over a longer period of time, the stress hormones increase in the amniotic fluid as proven by the University of Zurich’s interdisciplinary team of researchers. 

What Approach Should be Taken to Tackle Mental Health?

Let's delve into the importance of emotional preparation or emotional support for pregnancy.

During pregnancy, doctors monitor the blood pressure, and uterus size, and hear the heart tones of the baby. However, no one emphasises on asking how things are going in the woman’s life.

Medication can lower the stress to some level but it will not remove the root cause of the stress. Therefore, it has become necessary to address emotional stress to protect the mother and her unborn child. 

It is important to guide women and provide them with enough information about pregnancy and prenatal care.  

Tips For Maintaining Emotional Well-Being During Pregnancy

  • Talk it out: Share your worries and joys of being pregnant with your doctor or loved ones. Join antenatal classes to meet fellow pregnant mothers and share your woes. 
  • Make a plan for your well-being: Start thinking about how you feel and what kind of support you need from your loved ones during your pregnancy and labour. A well-planned tool will help you keep track of your emotions. 
  • Indulge in Physical Exercises: Being physically active will help relieve stress and make you feel good and sleep better. You can try yoga, walking, dancing, or any other physical exercise as per your comfort. Make sure you ask your doctor before doing any exercise.
  • Give yourself a treat: What if you are pregnant? Can’t you go on a trip or treat yourself to a relaxing massage? Sure, you can. You will look forward to the rewards and divert your mind from stressful thoughts.

Mindfulness and Stress-Reduction Techniques 

Mindfulness is the key to being one with yourself as you breathe and relax. It’s about staying in the moment. By practising mindfulness, mothers can learn to manage the stressful moments in their lives. 

Meditation and mindfulness are not about achieving a blissful state. It’s about creating your own space to let yourself breathe and think. 

How can you perform mindfulness? Here are a few tips: 

  • Take out 10 minutes of time for yourself
  • Indulge in relaxing activities such as going for a walk or lying down on the cosiest chair
  • Pay attention to your environment or your breathing
  • Refrain from focusing on any comments and avoid judging yourself

Breathing Exercises and Relaxation Techniques

Let us  help  you with some breathing exercises and relaxation techniques for stress relief.

  1. Breathing Meditation for Stress Relief

You can practise deep breathing anywhere to feel relaxed. The key takeaway is to breathe from the abdomen deeply to get as much air as you can get in your lungs. This way you are inhaling more oxygen. 

  • Keep your back straight as you sit comfortably. Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.  
  • Take a breath through your nose as your hand on the stomach rises and the hand on your chest should slightly move.
  • Exhale through the mouth and push the air out while contracting your abdominal muscles. 
  • Continue the exercise a few times. Make sure you inhale through your nose and inhale enough such that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Slowly count as you exhale.

If you are not comfortable doing this exercise while sitting, try lying on the floor. You can combine the exercise with other relaxation therapy, such as music or aromatherapy.

2. Visualisation Relaxation Technique

By visualising that you are going through different stages of pregnancy, you can prepare your body and mind for the experience. 

  • Try to find a comfortable place to sit or lie down
  • Take a few deep breaths after you close your eyes
  • Begin to visualise that you are going through different stages of pregnancy and your baby is growing well inside you.
  • Visualise you are giving birth successfully.
  • See yourself holding your newborn baby in your arms

Spend some time every day visualising your pregnancy and childbirth, you will be surprised to know how it can help you ease your anxiety and calm your nerves.

3. Rhythmic Movement for Stress Relief

The physical activity or rhythmic exercise that engages your legs and arms is most effective at relieving stress. Mindfulness and meditation require you to fully delve into the moment so you can focus on your body and how you are feeling. 

While walking/running/doing any physical activity, you should try to focus on the sensations in your body rather than your thoughts. Even if your mind wanders to other thoughts, try to gently divert your attention to the movement and your breathing. 

Nutrition and Exercise for Emotional Well-being 

A nutritious and healthy diet will ensure that proper nutrition is going inside the body to help the baby grow and develop. Generally, mothers are guided to eat a diet high in nutrients and low in saturated fats, salt, and sugar. 

A nutritious diet during pregnancy is directly related to a healthy birth weight and good brain development, reducing the probability of birth defects. Moreover, a balanced diet helps reduce the risks of unpleasant pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness and fatigue as well as anaemia. 

A well-balanced nutritious balanced diet should have the following: 

  • Folic acid
  • Adequate fat
  • Iron-rich food
  • Whole grain
  • Vegetable and fruits
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin C
  • Protein

Research suggests that if a baby is inadequately nourished in the womb, it increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes when they are adults. 

Being physically active during pregnancy offers a number of benefits. Therefore, be active and say goodbye to your pregnancy worries. 

Some of the suggested exercises during pregnancy that are safe, even for beginners are: 

  • Pilates
  • Yoga or stretching
  • Exercises in water
  • Muscle strengthening exercises or pelvic floor exercises
  • Jogging
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Walking

These exercises are safe to perform, however, the positions and movements should be carefully performed. 

  • Make sure your body temperature remains normal. Do not over exercise during humid days and stay hydrated.
  • If your body doesn't allow you to exercise, do not push yourself to exercise. Listen to your body.
  • Maintain the intensity of your sporting program and always exercise at less than 75% of your maximum heart rate.
  • Perform controlled stretching to not harm yourself and your baby. 

If at any time while you are exercising, you feel a headache, dizziness, chest pain, contractions, or any unusual changes in your baby’s movement, stop exercising immediately and consult your doctor.

Summing up, 

The morning sickness, itchiness, headache, backache, vaginal discharge, indigestion among others are realities of pregnancy. All of them affect how the expectant mother will experience during pregnancy and it affects how they would feel. 

For some mothers, the pregnancy worries range from worry about the future, concern about childbirth, or worrying about how the relationship will change after the child is born. 

The stress, anxiety, sadness may affect your life and if not treated on time. 

Let you and your baby enjoy the beautiful journey of pregnancy, cherish the moments, seek medical help as needed and practise mindful techniques. 

Janitri provides extensive pregnancy monitoring care devices to mothers to monitor their baby’s heartbeat, movement, and perform NST at home starting from the third trimester.

Connect with us and book a demo to monitor your baby and keep it safe.