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WIRF is one of Australia's leading organisations that is dedicated to improving the health of women and infants.

Emotional health, mental health and pregnancy

Expecting a new baby into the family is usually a very promising and hopeful time.women-mental-health-(3).jpg

Most expectant parents have feelings of excitement and joy, as well as the apprehension that comes with expanding their family. This transition is an important time to support parent’s emotional health as they prepare to stretch themselves to cope with the new life ahead of them.

Just as our expectant mothers are encouraged to remain physically active and maintain healthy nutrition, flexing their emotional and social muscles is also beneficial. A baby in-utero is sensitive to its mother’s stress through the release of hormones, influencing growth and brain development.

Finding ways to care for herself and feel supported by her loved ones is just as important as eating well and exercising.

Unfortunately some women have emotional, social and physical complications during pregnancy that introduce different worries and elevated stress: neonatal loss, preterm birth, history of mental illness, other health or social conditions. 

Growing and delivering a baby in these contexts can be extremely difficult. Feelings of worry, sadness and loss can be particularly hard to manage alongside the development of their very special relationship with their unborn baby.

Learning how to manage worry, stress, fear and grief can be critically important in protecting or supporting a woman’s longer-term postnatal adjustment to motherhood.

Up to 1 in 10 women and 1 in 20 men experienced depression during the perinatal period. Anxiety is at least as common, and may be more common, in expectant parents.

Psychological support for women who encounter anxiety and depression, benefit from having someone supportive to name and validate the complex array of emotions that make up their unique experience, as they find ways to re-connect with their ‘best self’. Access the family’s support networks, friendships, community groups and accurate information is vitally important to positive adjustment and recovery.

Women and their families may access help from health professionals including their general practitioner, child health nurse, community midwife, obstetrician, private psychologist, psychiatrist or counsellor. For more information about mental health in pregnancy go to:
If you or someone you care about are in crisis call the mental health emergency response line on 1300 555 788 (metro) 1800 552 002 (rural) or lifeline 131 114.

WIRF is providing advice and information for pregnant women and their families about COVID-19.

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Contact details

Women and Infants Research Foundation
Carson House, King Edward Memorial Hospital
374 Bagot Road, Subiaco, WA 6008

Telephone: 08 6458 1437
Fax: 08 6458 1642
Email: info@wirf.com.au

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