Don’t postpone treatment
If prenatal depression is not treated, it can affect the baby. That’s because when pregnant women are depressed, they are less likely to eat properly, get enough sleep and take prenatal vitamins, Howard says. They’re also more likely to use alcohol, tobacco or drugs, all of which increase the risk of birth defects.
Pregnant women and new mothers can benefit from talk therapy or programs like those offered at the Day Hospital in Providence. Many new moms feel overwhelmed because they think they have to be perfect mothers, and therapy can help them develop more realistic expectations. That was the case with Hartman, who was able to work through her feelings of inadequacy and her tendency to be a perfectionist.
About 10 months after her son was born, Hartman no longer needed medication. She was worried that her depression would prevent her son from bonding with her, but it turned out not to be the case. Today, she says, “My son and I couldn’t be any closer.”