Mental Health During Pregnancy and the First Year
Pregnancy and the first year after giving birth (together the perinatal period) are a time of huge changes.
Some feelings of worry and anxiety are common during pregnancy. But if you are feeling extreme worry, sadness, anxiety or depression, there may be something more serious going on.
Pregnancy-related depression and anxiety is the most common complication during pregnancy.
The Birth Squad: Support Groups
Experiencing emotional distress during pregnancy or after the birth of a baby is extremely common. It can make you feel sad, stressed out, worried, and wonder if things will ever get better or if anyone else understands.
However, help and support are available.
The Colorado Chapter of Postpartum Support International (PSI) is excited to announce a new initiative: The Birth Squad. PSI offers two types of support groups in the Denver area, including spaces for Black and Latinx moms and birthing people in English and Spanish. Babies are welcome at both groups.
Check out the support group schedule here.
Ready to get started? Schedule a quick call with The Birth Squad in English or Spanish.
The resources listed below offer support for perinatal mental health in Jefferson County:
Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners
Call 844-493-TALK (8255) to connect to the Colorado Crisis Services Walk-in Center at Jefferson Center for Mental Health.
Emergency Services Location: 12055 W 2nd Place Lakewood, CO 80228
Foothills Behavioral Health Partners
Resources and services for individuals with Medicaid in and around Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson, Gilpin, and Clear Creek Counties. Services may include individual and group therapy, case management, and referrals. Check the website or call 1-866-245-1959 for more details.
Jefferson Center for Mental Health
Individual clinical therapy treatment for people suffering from pregnancy-related mental health challenges, including partners. Jefferson Center also offers a full range of services and resources to support the mental health of children, youth and families.
Eligibility requirements: Health First Colorado (Medicaid); private insurance accepted; uninsured/indigent services available on sliding-scale
Contact number: 303-425-0300 (request Maternal Mental Health Services)
“Baby blues” and “postpartum depression” are often used to describe these conditions. But there are several forms of maternal mental health disorders that women may experience.
Up to 80 percent of women will experience baby blues — or feelings of worry and sadness in the days and weeks after they give birth.
Signs and symptoms of baby blues:
- Mood swings
- Often feeling sad and crying
- Feeling overwhelmed that you can’t do a good job caring for the baby
- Trouble sleeping, eating or making decisions
Baby blues usually go away without treatment one or two weeks after birth.
Learn more about symptoms of the baby blues here.
Up to 15% of women will develop anxiety during pregnancy or after childbirth. Some women experience anxiety alone, and sometimes they have anxiety and depression. Women experiencing severe anxiety and/or depression should be treated by a health care professional.
Signs and symptoms of pregnancy-related anxiety:
- Excessive worry
- Trouble sleeping or nightmares
- Fear of being alone with your baby
- Physical symptoms or panic attacks — muscle soreness, dizziness, nausea, chest pains, trouble breathing, sweating, shaking, heart racing, tingling in hands and feet
- Persistent, intrusive thoughts or mental images that you can’t get rid of
- Repetitive behaviors that are hard to control
- Lack of interest in the activities and/or people you used to love
Pregnancy-related anxiety is temporary and treatable with professional help. Learn more about anxiety during and after pregnancy here.
Depression during and after pregnancy is more common than people realize. In fact, depression is the most common complication associated with childbirth.
About 15% of women experience significant depression after childbirth. Ten percent of women experience depression during pregnancy. Symptoms of pregnancy-related depression can start anytime during pregnancy or throughout the first year after giving birth.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Feeling angry and irritable
- Lack of interest in your baby or difficulty bonding
- Crying and sadness
- Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
- Regret over having a baby
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Trouble eating, sleeping or engaging in routines normally
- Possible thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Pregnancy-related depression is temporary and treatable with professional help. Learn more about depression during and after pregnancy here.
Find treatment and support programs for pregnancy-related depression here.
Pregnancy-related Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder during and after pregnancy is more common than people realize. In fact, perinatal women are 1.5 to 2 times more at risk for OCD than the general population.
OCD often co-occurs with pregnancy-related depression, and if you have been diagnosed with OCD prior to pregnancy, you may be at a higher risk for developing postpartum symptoms.
Symptoms of pregnancy-related OCD can start anytime during pregnancy or throughout the first year after giving birth. Symptoms appear to be most common in the weeks following delivery.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Intrusive, upsetting, repetitive thoughts — usually of harm coming to the baby
- Significant feelings of guilt or shame
- A sense of horror about the thoughts you’re having
- Hypervigilance with a focus on protecting your baby
- Engaging in behaviors to avoid harm or to minimize perceived threats
- Fear of being left alone with your infant
Pregnancy-related OCD is temporary and treatable with professional help.
Learn more about OCD during and after pregnancy here. Find treatment and support programs for pregnancy-related depression here.
Psychosis is a very rare — but very serious — illness that only occurs in just 1 of every 1,000-3,000 births.
Symptoms of psychosis usually come on suddenly within two or three weeks of childbirth. Women are most likely to experience postpartum psychosis if they have a personal or family history of bipolar disorder or psychotic episodes.
If you or someone you know develop any of these symptoms, seek medical help right away.
- Strange beliefs (for example, that your baby is possessed)
- Hallucinations (e.g., seeing someone else’s face instead of your baby’s face, or hearing things that are not there)
- Feeling confused or disoriented
- Rapid mood swings
- Difficulty communicating
- Decreased need for sleep or unable to sleep
- Feeling suicidal or wanting to harm your baby
Learn more about the risk factors and symptoms of postpartum psychosis here.
If you are struggling with substance use while pregnant or after the baby’s birth, there are confidential and non-judgmental resources in our community to support you.
The Recovery Nurse Advocate Program serves any person prenatal through one year postpartum who is currently struggling with or has a history of substance use disorder. Participants do not need to be currently in treatment.
The program includes home visits from a nurse during pregnancy and for one year postpartum for people who are struggling with substance abuse or have a history of substance abuse.
Nurses support clients with finding healthcare and insurance coverage; getting mental health and substance use treatment; nutritional needs; stable housing; child care; pregnancy and parenting education; support groups; and more.
Contact number: 303-467-4080
Website: Recovery Nurse Advocate Program at Lutheran Medical Center
People who want support to quit smoking or vaping for their own health and the health of their baby can get free resources through the Baby and Me Tobacco Free program.