Pregnancy refers to the period when a baby grows inside the mother’s womb. Usually lasting around nine months, a human pregnancy is divided into three roughly equal trimesters. One of the early signs of pregnancy is a missed period, although a woman may also feel fatigued, have sore breasts, be sensitive to smells and certain foods, or run a low temperature. Some women start experiencing mood swings and morning sickness early on; others have no symptoms at all. Certain factors can make a pregnancy more risky for both baby and mother, including the mother’s age (teenagers or women over 35), diabetes, and high blood pressure. Expectant mothers should take steps to protect and enhance their emotional well-being as well as physical health during this critical developmental window.
A Window Into Gestation
Healthy Pregnancy Expectations
First-world nations, including the U.S., are increasingly sophisticated about the importance of fetal environment, its long-term impact on a person’s physical and psychological development. For this reason, expectant mothers are bombarded with information about what to eat, what nutritional supplements to take, how to cope with morning sickness and other physical symptoms of pregnancy, the best way to give birth, how to breastfeed a baby, and more. Pregnancy itself is more complicated for many women at this point in time, as more become pregnant later in life, and fertility treatments and multiple births are increasingly common.
Moms and Mental Health
Pregnancy and its attendant hormonal changes have varying effects on moms-to-be and their mental health. It’s normal for pregnant women to experience a wide range of emotions, from joy and excitement to bouts of anxiety and mood swings. Paying attention to any emotional and psychological changes during and after pregnancy will help keep mother and baby safe and healthy. For instance, some women may experience postpartum depression or anxiety or even psychosis. New mothers and their families should be alert for anxious thoughts, mood swings, and other symptoms that may reflect more than sleep deprivation.