Month four Q&A
Q:I have two children, with a third baby on the way. I’ve also adopted my late sister-in-law’s two children. I had a rough start in the business world after I graduated from varsity, but I hung in there, and soon found out I was four months pregnant. I assume the stress and workload made me overlook the signs that I was pregnant. I’ve become terribly depressed. My husband thinks I’m exaggerating and my mom wants me to pray about it. I’ve seen a professional, but they advise I go onto antidepressants. I don’t want to take any medication – but I feel incredibly depressed. I want to change for the better, for the baby’s sake.
A:Karin answers: I’m so proud of how courageous you are, deciding to love this child, and desiring to celebrate your pregnancy and your new baby, despite this being an unplanned surprise. I can hear that the timing of this baby has thrown you off course. You were finally getting going in your work, and now things will probably have to change for a little while. In addition to all the pregnancy hormones flooding your body and your brain, your body seems to be telling you that you’re finding it a bit difficult to adjust and not sure how to move forward. Depression and feeling overwhelmed go hand in hand. Good quality support (definitely someone who is clear-headed) is necessary – someone to help you manage the household and the other children; someone to make sure that you and your unborn baby are taken care of; someone to love and support you and reassure you that you’ll be okay. There are many natural and alternative treatments for depression. For more severe depression you may have to consider using pregnancy approved antidepressant medication (which recent research has shown isn’t detrimental to the health of the baby) in conjunction with the following: Natural remedies for depression are St John’s Wort, flower remedies, 5-HTP, B6, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. Exercise (such as brisk walking, swimming, cycling or yoga) is an excellent way to de-stress and assist your body in making the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. You may have to nudge yourself to exercise when at first you may not feel like you have the energy to do it. You can also consider acupuncture to treat depression. It helps to identify and express your thoughts and start to create more positive and helpful thoughts for yourself, your baby and your future. Be honest with yourself about what you feel you have lost now that things have changed, and mourn that loss properly. Consider going for psychotherapy or counselling, or joining a support group (even online support group). You could call Lifeline for free emotional support, or approach FAMSA (Family Life South Africa) or SADAG (The South African Depression and Anxiety Group) for assistance. Get good sleep. Your body needs to rest to repair itself and generate new life. Eat healthy and nutritious food to feed your body and mind. Even if you don’t feel like eating, you have to eat small meals, good proteins. Avoid consuming refined sugar and carbohydrates or caffeine, which can make symptoms of depression feel worse, as well as placing extra stress on the body. Please seek assistance if you continue to experience symptoms of depression (low mood, constant crying, lack of energy or desire, and suicidal thoughts or plans). It’s unnecessary for you to feel that bad for so long, and it is not beneficial to the developing baby in your womb.
Karin Steyn Counselling psychologist and hypnobirthing practitioner