pregnant woman sighing

By Associate Professor TAN Thiam Chye Head & Senior Consultant, Dr Janice TUNG Associate Consultant, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital

Many mums- and dads-to-be find the journey of pregnancy very memorable and the bond they develop with their baby very special. At the same time, they may also have worries about the baby's health and the future. This is very common as parenthood is a big transition in your life. For mums-to-be, hormonal changes during pregnancy may also make you more sensitive, especially in the first trimester.

But if you're feeling extremely moody, irritable and tearful around week 20, this may be a signal of something a bit more serious. Here's what you need to know about the pregnancy blues and how you can get help to start smiling again.

Signs of Pregnancy Blues

pregnancy blues

  • Irritability, anxiety and sadness

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Severe feelings of guilt or the tendency to blame yourself

  • Feelings of hopelessness and feeling that life is meaningless

  • Mood swings

  • Disinterest in the things you used to enjoy

  • Wanting to cry all the time

  • Loss of appetite

  • Insomnia or poor sleep quality

  • Fatigue

  • Forgetfulness

Related: Antenatal Depression

The Risks of Developing the Blues

risk of developing pregnancy blues

One in five pregnant mums is likely to have these symptoms. Often, it's a combination of these factors that increase the likelihood of this condition:

  • Having an unplanned pregnancy, especially as a teenager or young mother

  • Having difficulty with pregnancy symptoms and complications

  • Foetal abnormalities

  • Previous episodes of depression

  • Previous miscarriages or difficulties conceiving

  • Environmental factors such as interpersonal problems and financial stress

Related: Coping With the Unexpected: Pregnancy Complications

What You Can Do

what can you do with pregnancy moods

It's important to identify and treat these baby blues to ensure a physically and emotionally healthy pregnancy and a healthy environment for your little one. These steps will help you:

  • Ensure you enjoy proper nutrition

  • Avoid smoking and alcohol

  • Exercise regularly

  • Continue to participate in activities that interest you

  • Join a mothers' support group so they can address your concerns

  • Talk to your loved ones so they can give you the support you need at this important stage of your life

  • Consult a doctor immediately or seek professional help. Your doctor may ask you to go for counselling or other forms of therapy that will help you. The earlier you seek treatment, the earlier you can recover. Always remember that you are not alone in this journey

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Sources:

The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, World Scientific

Healthy Start for your Pregnancy 2012, Health Promotion Board Singapore