How To Work Through Antenatal Depression During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an exciting time as you begin to prepare to welcome your new baby into your life. Despite the excitement, joy and anticipation that you, your friends and family feel, you occasionally might also feel stressed or anxious too. Your hormones are also playing a role in your emotional shifts, making pregnancy a time of intense feelings. Pregnancy and birth are incredibly fulfilling, yet challenging periods of life, where you have to make big changes to your lifestyle and health. Dealing with the physical, mental and emotional changes throughout pregnancy is stressful, and sometimes, it can feel like it’s becoming too much. 

Emotional changes are normal in pregnancy, but prolonged periods of sadness or anxiety could be a sign of antenatal depression. If you are feeling this way, just remember you are not alone, and there are ways you can support your mental wellbeing during pregnancy. We’re going to go over ways you can monitor yourself for antenatal depression, as well as ways you can help yourself if you’re struggling with your mental health during pregnancy. 

What is Antenatal Depression?

You have probably heard of postnatal depression – an onset of depression after the birth of your baby. Antenatal depression, however, is the onset of depression during pregnancy. Pregnancy is a time of intense physical and emotional changes, and feeling exhausted, sad or stressed occasionally is common. Likewise, it's common to be very busy during pregnancy and not have any time for yourself, leaving you feeling burnt out. However, if these feelings persist, you could be experiencing antenatal depression. Some signs of depression during pregnancy include: 

  • A feeling of hopelessness or feeling constantly low, sad, or teary 
  • Withdrawing from your family or social circle
  • Losing interest in things which previously gave you joy 
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby*
  • Brain fog or poor concentration

Recognizing the signs of antenatal depression is essential, as if it is not caught early, it can develop into postnatal depression after having your baby. Both antenatal and postnatal depression could also influence your ability to bond with your baby after giving birth, causing even more emotional strain during an already difficult time.

Why Does Antenatal Depression Occur?

Antenatal depression is the result of a combination of risk factors, which can cause strain on your mental health if not properly addressed. Some of the reasons antenatal depression can develop include: 

Hormonal Changes

Pregnancy involves constant changes for your body. In order to support your growing baby, your body works overtime, adapting to meet new physical and hormonal demands. In particular, the hormones progesterone, oestrogen and cortisol increase during pregnancy, leading to changes in mood and energy levels. These hormonal changes influencing your mood and wellbeing can therefore contribute to depression during pregnancy.

Stress and Anxiety 

Preparing for a new baby can be incredibly exciting, but can also mean you now have a long list of things to complete before you give birth. Completing important tasks whilst being physically drained can leave you feeling stressed and anxious. Likewise, many parents-to-be feel as though they are underprepared, or not going to be ‘ready’ enough to welcome their new baby into their home. These feelings can weigh heavily on you during pregnancy, and snowball into depression if not promptly addressed.

What You Can Do About Antenatal Depression

Antenatal depression can make your experience of pregnancy more stressful, leaving you feeling overwhelmed about the journey ahead. If you are looking for ways to make pregnancy less stressful as you focus on your mental health, here are some things you can do to lighten the load: 

Be Prepared

A new baby requires so many resources and so much of your attention. Making sure you can prepare as much as you can ahead of time can help ease any stress or worry you might be experiencing. Preparing everything you need for your baby means you can cross off important things from your ‘to-do’ list as early as possible, and spend more time on your mental health. 

Aside from preparing all the material items like clothing, carseats and tableware, you can also take parenting or birthing classes to ease some of the worry about childbirth and motherhood. 

Find Community 

Feelings of isolation, worry, anxiety and stress can be exasperated if you try to do everything alone. Try and seek a community of people to lean on during the difficult times in pregnancy. You can look for local mom groups, play groups or pregnancy classes to find a sense of community and be surrounded by other moms. By having a place to share your thoughts and feelings, you will feel less alone. Likewise, by talking with other moms, you will be able to share the joys of preparing for a baby with other pregnant moms as well.

Support Your Gut

Did you know that our mental health is closely linked to our gut health? Our gut is responsible for producing important hormones like serotonin and dopamine, which are key players in our mental wellbeing. Interestingly, your gut microbiome also undergoes dynamic changes during pregnancy, with the diversity and quantity of gut bacteria changing nearly every trimester. Supporting your gut could be one great way to support both your mind and body if you are experiencing depression during pregnancy.

How Can I Support My Gut For Antenatal Depression?

The gut and mind are closely linked due to the gut-brain axis (GBA), a bidirectional channel of communication between the gut and brain. This well-researched connection plays a key role in our mental health, with the gut producing almost 90% of our serotonin. Serotonin is known as one of our ‘happy hormones’, and is what usually becomes unbalanced during depression, including in antenatal depression. Taking care of your gut health could be an important part in overcoming periods of poor mental health, by supporting the gut-brain connection. 

Why Take Probiotics for Antenatal Depression?

Taking a probiotic during pregnancy can help you support the changes your mind and body are experiencing. Many pregnant women will take a prenatal vitamin to provide the necessary nutrients for their baby, but by taking a probiotic in pregnancy, you can take care of your own wellbeing too. Taking probiotics during pregnancy can support your gut microbiome, digestion, and any common pregnancy side effects like constipation, nausea and vomiting.

Which Probiotic Should I Take For Antenatal Depression?

Probiotics can be used to support your gut microbiome, but some probiotics are more effective than others. For example, PS128 is the world’s first gut-brain medical probiotic, backed by 14 clinical studies, including ones involving people with depression. PS128 supports your gut-brain axis to produce those important hormones like serotonin and dopamine.

By providing your gut with the probiotics it needs during pregnancy, you can directly address the influence the gut-brain axis has on your mental wellbeing. Choosing the right probiotic for your pregnancy can provide you with a variety of benefits for your gut health and mental wellbeing at the same time. To read more about PS128, you can do so here.


Antenatal depression can make your experience of pregnancy difficult, and exasperate any stress or worry you have as you get ready to welcome your baby. By being prepared, finding community and taking care of your gut health, you can create a holistic plan to take care of your mental health throughout your pregnancy. Always reach out to a qualified health professional for advice on managing antenatal depression.  

*If you experience thoughts of suicide or self-harm, contact a medical professional immediately.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified healthcare professional. If you have concerns about your health, symptoms, or treatment options, please consult a licensed medical professional for proper diagnosis and advice tailored to your individual situation. 


Recommended Reading 

 How Do I Know If I Need Probiotics?

What Does Serotonin Do?

Work, Motherhood and Mental Health – Tips for Working Moms


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