Many women have good mental health during pregnancy. Some women may already have a mental illness when they get pregnant. Others worry about the mental health problems they have had in the past. They are scared about getting ill again during pregnancy or after childbirth. Some women have mental health problems for the first time in pregnancy. Unfortunately, pregnancy does not stop people from having mental health problems. Women who stop the medication when they get pregnant have a high risk of getting ill again (e.g. 7 out of every 10 women who stop antidepressants in early pregnancy become unwell again).

Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health problems in pregnancy. These affect about 10 to 15 out of every 100 pregnant women. Women also experience many other mental health problems during pregnancy, just like at other times.

How your mental health is affected during pregnancy depends on many things. These include:

  • The type of mental illness you have experienced
  • Whether you are on treatment
  • Recent stressful events in your life (such as a death in the family or a relationship ending)
  • How you feel about your pregnancy. You may or may not be happy about being pregnant. You may have upsetting memories about difficulties in your own childhood.

Symptoms of mental illness in pregnancy are similar to the symptoms you have at other times. Some symptoms might focus on the pregnancy. For instance, you may have anxious or negative thoughts about your pregnancy or your baby. You may find changes in your weight and shape difficult, particularly if you have had an eating disorder.

Sometimes pregnancy-related-symptoms can be confused with symptoms of mental illness. For example, broken sleep and lack of energy are common in both pregnancy and depression.

Some people find it more difficult than others to cope with the changes and uncertainties which pregnancy brings. For some women, it can be a very happy and exciting time. Others may have mixed, or negative, feelings about being pregnant.

Many women worry about how they will cope with having a baby. Worries about some of the following are common when you are pregnant:

  • Changes in your role (becoming a mother, stopping work)
  • Changes in your relationships
  • Whether you will be a good parent
  • Fear that there will be problems with the pregnancy or the baby
  • Fear of childbirth
  • Lack of support and being alone.


  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Reduce your alcohol intake. You should stop drinking if possible. Otherwise, you should not drink more than 1-2 units, once or twice a week.
  • Stop smoking (ask your midwife or GP about ‘stop smoking’ services).
  • Find some time each week to do something which you enjoy, improves your mood or helps you to relax.
  • Let family and friends help you with housework, shopping, etc.
  • Exercise (ask your midwife about exercise in pregnancy and local exercise classes).
  • Discuss any worries you may have with your family, your midwife or GP.
  • Get regular sleep.