Pregnancy can be a crappy time. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be a glowing, spiritual and joyous experience, but personally, I didn’t really enjoy it. The physical and hormonal changes, the stress and anxiety about such a big life shift, the nausea, the constant need to pee and the inability to enjoy a glass of wine. Too much. I love my son to bits and pieces, but unlike some, I just didn’t find pregnancy to be a blissful time.
So it didn’t surprise me to learn that the perinatal period (which includes pregnancy and the following year) is commonly when a woman is at her most vulnerable and at the greatest risk of experiencing mental illness. In Australia, at least 1 in 7 women will experience postnatal depression, and 1 in 10 will experience antenatal depression during pregnancy. Anxiety conditions are also as common as depression during the perinatal period. And even for those who don’t experience mental health problems, pregnancy can often lead to feelings of uncertainty and fear.
Fortunately, our society is becoming much better informed and equipped to help people experiencing mental health difficulties. One tool that can be particularly calming for new and expectant mothers is Mind the Bump, a free mental health-related mindfulness meditation App created by Smiling Mind and Beyond Blue.
You can listen to guided mindfulness meditations that directly address the different stages of pregnancy and the postnatal period. The meditations are short can help ease stress, clear the mind and reduce the risk of developing anxiety or depression. In fact the App is not only designed to support new and expectant mothers, but fathers and partners too.
Mind the Bump is designed by mental health professionals and is based on extensive research showing the benefits of mindfulness, a process of not worrying about the past or future and instead paying attention to the present moment with purpose and without judgement. Mindfulness teaches acceptance, which is a very useful skill for all parents coping with the pressures of bringing home a new baby.
You can download the free App onto your smartphone by visiting the App Store or Google Play, or head to www.mindthebump.org.au to learn more.
If mindfulness is not quite your thing, or you feel that you, or someone close to you, is in need of more support, we suggest you contact PANDAs helpline on 1300 726 306 between 10 and 5pm Monday to Friday. PANDA is a not-for-profit self-help group that provides vital support, information, referral and counselling to thousands of Australian parents and their families.
Alternatively, you can call beyondblue’s Support Service 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1300 22 4636.