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Mental Health

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Mental health during and after pregnancy

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Women Veterans

Mental health during and after pregnancy

Becoming pregnant is a life-changing event. Women’s emotional reactions to pregnancy can vary widely according to life circumstances, such as social support, safety, housing, financial resources and stress. The physical changes of pregnancy can cause discomfort and sleep loss that affect emotional well-being.

The first year after giving birth, the postpartum period, is a time when women may be more vulnerable than usual to mental health challenges, especially if they don’t have enough support. In addition to experiencing dramatic hormonal changes, women who have recently given birth are often sleep deprived, in pain and adjusting to motherhood. It can be challenging for new mothers to find time to relax, exercise, prepare healthy meals and care for themselves. It’s not surprising that many mental health symptoms arise or worsen after childbirth .

Fortunately, postpartum depression and other postpartum mental health conditions are treatable, and they can often be prevented if women seek mental health services before or during pregnancy. If you would like to learn more about protecting postpartum mental health, or if you’re experiencing postpartum distress, consider speaking with your primary care provider or mental health clinician about prevention, assessment and treatment options.

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