Exploring the ‘Pregnancy Blues’: A Look Inside the Mind of an Expecting Mother

Exploring the ‘Pregnancy Blues’: A Look Inside the Mind of an Expecting Mother


“Hush little baby, please don’t cry, 

Mummy is tired and doesn’t know why. 

Sleep through tonight, after you’ve been fed 

Let mummy rest in her warm, soft bed. 

Hush little baby, sweet are your dreams 

Mummy does care, hard though it seems 

No one told her just how it would be 

The hours that stretch out for eternity. 

Hush little baby, keep quiet for tonight 

Let mummy sleep in brief respite 

She’s lost sight of herself, nothing is left 

Crying in sadness, lonely and bereft. 

Hush little baby, try to be good 

Mummy will get better, just as she should 

She loves you so much, though hard to say 

Let time be the healer, and peace come to stay.” 

Penned by Dr Kathryn Gutteridge, Consultant Midwife & Psychotherapist, from the United Kingdom, this poem perfectly describes a mother's emotions after giving birth. Pregnancy is often portrayed as a time of joy and anticipation, and those feelings are undoubtedly present in a mother's soul. However, right after becoming a mother a woman becomes too tired.  The state of her body and mind changes completely. But, many people including herself are not aware of these changes. It's completely fine to feel this way and it's important to acknowledge that pregnancy can also bring emotional turbulence for a woman.  

During labour, a woman experiences intense physical pain. But the mental toll of pregnancy is often overlooked. However, that is a severe problem. For a healthy pregnancy, higher levels of progesterone and estrogen are important. Therefore, during pregnancy, ovaries produce more progesterone and estrogen to support the pregnancy. These hormonal changes may cause morning sickness, tiredness, and mood swings, and the woman can feel more emotional. Additionally, stress can exacerbate these symptoms. 

This blog aims to shed light on the connection between pregnancy and mental changes in women. We'll explore the most common conditions, discuss potential risk factors, and highlight the importance of seeking help. 


The prevalence of emotional disorders during pregnancy: 

Research shows that many pregnant women suffer from emotional issues, which is contrary to the stereotypical image of pregnancy. Recent studies shed light on the emotional journey expecting mothers go through. Usually, pregnant women face common emotional struggles like mood swings, depression, and anxiety. However, research suggests these emotional problems may not necessarily harm newborns. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth reports that a study including 555 women revealed no connection between these feelings and negative outcomes for the unborn child. 

Furthermore, it's important to recognise that many mothers have shown extraordinary resilience, even though 15.2% of pregnant women may have diagnosable anxiety disorders. Even during tough times like the COVID-19 pandemic, many pregnant or postpartum women experienced depression (24.9%), anxiety (32.8%), stress (29.44%), PTSD (27.93%), and sleep issues (24.38%). But, they handled these challenges well. By understanding these emotional disturbances and offering support, we can empower mothers to navigate pregnancy with confidence. 

Here are some of the common conditions women face during pregnancy: 


Depression in pregnancy is the most common emotional illness. According to research, 7% of expectant mothers may experience depression at some point in their pregnancy. They show symptoms like mood swings, disinterest in activities, changes in eating or sleeping habits, and difficulties in concentration. According to a global survey titled 'Maternal Mental Health During Pregnancy: A Critical Review' by Ankit Chauhan and Jyotsna Potdar, prenatal depression rates ranged from 15% to 65% with a pooled majority of 17% in the rich and poor, respectively. 

Antenatal Anxiety:  

During pregnancy many women get anxious. That's natural. But for a few of them, anxiety becomes dangerous. Anxiety during pregnancy is called antenatal anxiety. In which, the feeling of worry and stress comes for apparently no reason. If this situation occurs, then the pregnant woman can face generalised anxiety, panic disorder, agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social phobia. According to a report published in the MGH Center for Women's Mental Health, up to 20% of pregnant women suffer from anxiety disorders. 

Perinatal Obsessive-compulsive disorder (P-OCD):  

One of the anxiety disorders that affects about 7 to 11% of women during pregnancy and the first 12 months after giving birth is perinatal obsessive-compulsive disorder, or P-OCD. Dr. Karen Kleinman, an international expert in maternal mental health, stated to Psychology Today, “Good moms have scary thoughts.” Thoughts, such as, “What if I drop the baby?” According to Kleinman, more than 90% of new moms will experience unsettling thoughts about their children and themselves at some point. Nevertheless, this does not imply that almost every new mom has P-OCD. 

Postpartum depression:  

Most new mothers suffer from postpartum "baby blues" after childbirth, which commonly includes mood swings, weeping, anxiety and trouble during sleep. These baby blues start from the first two to three days following the delivery, and they can last up to two weeks. However, few of the new mothers experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression. It is known as postpartum depression. A 2017 study from the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that 22% of surveyed Indian women, totalling 20,043, suffered from postpartum depression. Even though postpartum depression officially happens after childbirth, it is nonetheless important to discuss because of its relationship to emotional health during pregnancy.  

Risk Factors: 

Understanding the risk factors for emotional disorders during pregnancy is crucial for expecting mothers' well-being. Factors such as a history of mental illness, stressful life events, unplanned pregnancies, and hormonal changes can contribute to the vulnerability of an expecting mother. If someone faces these problems, then they need to seek help. Because it is essential because it guarantees the fetus's well-being and enhances the mother's health. 

Treatment Options: 

Treatment options for emotional disorders during pregnancy offer hope and support for expecting mothers. Therapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), provides valuable coping skills to manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. Sometimes medication is needed in these cases. However, healthcare providers always consider safety, thinking carefully about what's best for both mother and child. Additionally, making lifestyle changes such as maintaining healthy sleep patterns, balanced nutrition, and regular exercise can significantly improve emotional well-being during pregnancy. 


Pregnancy is a transformative experience, and it's perfectly normal to experience a range of emotions. However, if you're struggling with constant symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other emotional disorders, seeking professional help is crucial to ensure the well-being of both yourself and your baby.