Specific psychological difficulties in pregnancy

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The popular image of pregnancy is of the parents-to-be perpetually in 'spring', a time of optimism, new replacing the old, new beginnings, and so on. It's not really like this: most women feel a range of different things through their pregnancy as do fathers-to -be. Chapter 3 has tried to identify themes and issues that are common to many pregnancies, but certainly not all. Reading so far, you may have found certain things that you recognised and others that were not your personal experience. However, for some couples, the entire pregnancy can be very different. A pregnancy can be seen as complicated for very many reasons: the mother may have a history of miscarriage or perinatal death, a previous termination of pregnancy or health problems such as pre- eclampsia.The baby may already be identified as having health problems or disabilities or may have been conceived through assisted conception. However, this chapter will concentrate on significant emotional problems.These may either pre-date the pregnancy or are generated by the experience of being pregnant.

Most people have heard of 'post-natal depression' and are prepared for the weeks after the birth possibly being difficult, but it still remains something of a 'secret' that depression occurs in pregnancy too. As was stated earlier, we enter pregnancy from a particular place in our lives, which might mean struggling to control alcohol or drug problems, or with a tendency to experience panic attacks or anxiety symptoms in certain situations. Pregnancy can re-ignite old difficulties such as problems with body image and fears about controlling your eating. For women who have experienced childhood sexual abuse, pregnancy may trigger or exacerbate a range of problems. For both parents-to be, where there were significant difficulties in their childhood, psychological symptoms may begin to surface during pregnancy. We have already talked about the changing nature of relationships in pregnancy and, understandably, in some cases, this leads to relationship problems or breakdown.

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