Think about your expectations of birth – are they realistic or based on TV, magazines or your own childhood? Consider talking with your doctor, midwife or friends about what to expect, and then think about what’s right for you as an individual.
Planning ahead can help you avoid stress. It’s reassuring to know you have things in order as best you can predict and a basic knowledge of what’s to come when you’re pregnant.
It’s a good idea to involve your partner or family in the planning process and establish your support network right from the start. This network might be your family and friends, but may also include community support services and/or your GP.
Be aware of all of the people you can rely on if you need help with your mental illness when you’re pregnant and after birth. You will find they are invaluable during stressful times when you need support.
Remember, asking for help is a positive move.
Consider the following to ensure you are as relaxed as you can be before you have your baby.
You can expect some hormonal and emotional changes throughout your pregnancy – this is where you’ll find your support network most valuable. You’ll need family and friends you can ring or ask for help if you become upset, exhausted or angry. These are all normal emotions which may arise during the phase of pregnancy. You can always call Lifeline if no one is available on 13 11 14.
Continue to visit your treating psychiatrist or GP to discuss your medication, future breastfeeding and warning signs of your illness. And remember to follow up with then after the birth to let them know how you’re going.
It’s important to be in good physical health whilst pregnant. This will require enough rest (reduce your daily workload if you need to) and healthy food and moderate exercise. Remember to include enjoyable things in your day that are also relaxing – something to make you smile without raising too much a of a sweat.
Alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs (including misuse of prescription drugs) can affect your own physical and mental health and also the health of your unborn baby. This can really hinder your ability to parent effectively.
If you need support to manage cigarettes, alcohol or drugs, there are non-judgemental services available. Call the Family Drug Support line on 1300 368 186. You can do it - your baby deserves it.