What increases my risk of developing a mental health condition during pregnancy?
A very common question that many women may ask is what increases my risk of developing emotional or mental health problems in pregnancy or after having a baby? We know that some women may be more vulnerable to emotional and mental health conditions in pregnancy due to a combination of factors – ranging from your genetic make-up and biology, your upbringing and the way you have learned to think, feel and behave in situations (psychological) and your current situation (social factors).
Known risk factors
There is a range of factors that are known to increase your risk of stress and/or mental health conditions developing in pregnancy.
The most common risk factors
- Experiencing mental health problems in the past or currently
- Experiencing past or current physical, sexual or psychological abuse – including partner or family violence
- Current alcohol and/or drug abuse
- Having stressful situations or factors (stressors) in your life recently (e.g. over the past year)
- The quality of your attachment with your own mother
- Having a perfectionist personality – liking routine and order in your life
- Your access to practical and emotional support
Am I at risk?
Just because you may have been or are currently experiencing one or more of these factors, it does not necessary mean that you will develop emotional or mental health problems in pregnancy. However, it can increase your risk of this occurring. That’s why it is good to have an awareness and understanding about these factors to help you to be aware of their possible impact and, if possible, talk to someone about this should you feel that it may impact on your feelings during pregnancy or after having a baby.