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When Antepartum Depression Hits
When I was pregnant with my first child, I started having nightmares. These weren’t regular nightmares; these were real. Starting at about 5 months, I would have extremely realistic dreams that my husband was having an affair because I was getting too fat. While I knew in my head this was ludicrous, I couldn’t shake the feeling. I would wake up each morning, dreading when my husband would leave for the day because it meant I could no longer reassure myself that he wasn’t cheating since he wasn’t in my sight.
I had these nightmares every single night…..for weeks. After about two months, I wasn’t able to tell if what I was seeing and hearing in my dreams was real or not. I tripled my exercise and cut my calorie intake in half because I kept hearing my husband’s voice (in my dreams) mocking me for being fat.
My Health Started To Suffer
One day, my baby stopped moving. For almost the entire day, I felt nothing from the 31 week old baby in my stomach. My very loving, caring husband rushed me to the hospital, where they monitored fetal heartbeat and movements. They pumped me full of IV fluids, and they gave me lunch when I admitted the last time I had eaten anything had been the morning before. My poor, clueless husband was horrified when I confessed everything.
Thankfully, I had a kind and understanding OB/GYN who explained to me that almost 20% of women experience antepartum depression, which is depression during pregnancy. I’d always heard of postpartum depression, but I hadn’t realized it could also happen before my baby was even born! Just knowing what was happening and where these thoughts were coming from made a tremendous difference. Then with proper counseling and medication, I was able to control them for the rest of the pregnancy.
Luckily I Was Prepared The Second Time Around
When my second pregnancy hit and I began having vivid, disturbing dreams of my innocent husband molesting our now two-year-old daughter, I was able to recognize it right away. I spoke frequently with my husband and OB/GYN, and it made the pregnancy go much more smoothly. So often, husbands and friends are counseled to keep an eye out for symptoms of post-partum depression after a child is born. What is rarely spoken of is antepartum depression We need to be looking out for the same symptoms months before the child is even born.
It is almost more dangerous because the antepartum depression is often chalked up to pregnancy hormones. We assume that we’re just having “pregnancy brain,” we’re overly tired, etc. But if let untreated, antepartum depression can lead to premature birth, low birth weight, and developmental problems. My daughter was born at 37 weeks (so full-term), weighing only 4 lbs 8 oz.
Some of the symptoms of antepartum depression include
- Persistent sadness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Loss of interest in activities you typically enjoy
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Change in eating habits
- Recurring thoughts of death, suicide, or hopelessness
As you go through your pregnancy, or as you watch the pregnancy of someone else, please keep an eye out for these symptoms! Sometimes, yes, you’ll encounter these while pregnant (especially sleeping too much or a change in eating!). However, they could be a sign of something more serious, like antepartum depression.
Tiffany is a former math teacher, SAHM homeschooling mom, and CASA volunteer who loves finding good deals! She and her husband, Phillip, who is an engineer, work together on The Crazy Shopping Cart. They enjoy spending time with their family, geeking out over sci-fi together, and saving money.
The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.