Mom-to-be? Why your mental health is critical during and after pregnancy

Expectant mothers put themselves and their babies at risk when they do not prioritise their mental health.

Mental well-being during pregnancy and motherhood is critical for both mother and baby, explain specialist psychiatrists Dr Mashadi Motlana and Dr Lavinia Lumu.

Pregnant women who are struggling with mental health should not quit their medication, says Dr Motlana.

Read: Some days I wanted to run away - Mel Bala and other moms on postpartum distress

She advises that the expecting mothers should rather see a psychiatrist to discuss their options.

According to Dr Motlana, going off mental health medication during pregnancy poses a greater risk to the child's development than staying on the treatment.

Dr Lumu adds that pregnant women with severe mental disorders are at a greater risk of infanticide and suicide incidents.

She says that maternal mental disorders go under-reported because of the stigma associated with mental illness.

Untreated mental disorders can have harmful effects on the infant and can hamper mother-child attachment, Dr Lumu warns.

Read more: Ignoring your anxiety won't make it go away, Dr Mashadi Motlana explains

Pregnancy does put you at risk of developing a mental disorder for the first time, and your risk is even more increased if you have an existing mental disorder.

Dr Mashadi Motlana, specialist psychiatrist

A woman who is depressed has a negative impact on the outcomes of the child's neurodevelopmental future and there are also behavioural problems in the long term.

Dr Mashadi Motlana, specialist psychiatrist

Untreated mental disorders lead to an increase in stress hormones and the hormones become overwhelming for the placenta to control. They have a negative effect on the baby.

Dr Lavinia Lumu, specialist psychiatrist

Women don't have support like they used to and there is a growing incidence of mental health issues amongst mothers.

Dr Lavinia Lumu, specialist psychiatrist

Women are being brainwashed, we have this fantastical idea of motherhood.

Dr Lavinia Lumu, specialist psychiatrist

The pair discussed maternal mental health and how to combat post-natal depression. They also answered questions.

Take a listen to the expert advice:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Mom-to-be? Why your mental health is critical during and after pregnancy


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