Here are some of the things that I asked my OB/GYN while I was pregnant: “OMG, I just ate a homemade pickle, is that OK?” and “The baby has been hiccupping a lot this week—is that normal?” and “Someone at work thinks that they might have the measles—what should I do?”
That’s a small sample of approximately 300 totally weird (but, you know, normal) questions about the baby, my body and being pregnant. But the one thing I didn’t bring up with my doctor? How I was feeling. And I don’t mean all those aches and pains. I’m talking about how I was doing emotionally—which, to be honest, wasn’t always so great. Especially in my first trimester when I would lie awake at night as feelings of anxiety washed over me. Of course, there’s nothing unusual about feeling stressed or nervous about becoming a parent for the first time, but this level of worry went beyond the standard Oh my God, I’m making a tiny human concerns. And I wasn’t alone.
A poll by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America found that 52 percent of pregnant women report increased anxiety or depression. And according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, it’s estimated that 14 to 23 percent of pregnant women experience depression during pregnancy.
It’s unclear why this is, although hormones definitely play a role. “Studies show that estrogen and progesterone [the chief pregnancy hormones] can improve mood for some women or cause depression in others,” OB/GYN Dr. Lieberman tells us. And these hormones also cause fatigue—another contributing factor to anxiety and depression.