Depression During Pregnancy

Can a bad attitude affect your pregnancy?

Jeanne Scrubs.jpg

Eileen wonders how mental attitude affects pregnancy and parenting. Since I’ve been distracted in other parts of the world lately, I thought this question was an excellent one to bring this blog back home.

Does attitude affect pregnancy and parenting? Eileen has a friend with a miserable attitude about everything. She hates her job, family, being pregnant and isn’t too crazy about her husband either. She’s irritable, complains a lot and behaves immaturely when anyone diverts attention to anyone but herself. Eileen’s worried how this negativity will impact her delivery and ability to raise a child. Eileen’s apparently a happy person and has a happy baby. Is there a connection?

My answer might be based more on observation than hard medical science but then again, hard medical science might play a role here too. I think happy people have more fun raising their children than unhappy ones and therefore, their kids have more fun too. This may result in a better parenting perspective overall. Like any job, if you like what you’re doing, you’ll put more joy and effort into it and be better at it. Being really good at your job tends to produce good results, i.e. better behaved, functioning children.

If you see life as a hard, bad thing, parenthood’s not likely to be much of a picnic either. Parenting’s a difficult job. Kids are perceptive. They’ll pick up on it if Mom/Dad doesn’t enjoy raising them and they’ll act out in generally ticked-off ways. That’s a cycle that could repeat itself for many generations. That’s my non-medical perspective.

Here’s my medical perspective: Eileen’s friend might be struggling with her hormones, clinically depressed, crazy uncomfortable or just plain cranky. If the basis of her unhappiness is solely pregnancy-related, psychological or hormonal, she’d be wise to talk with her midwife/doctor to see if there’s anything they can do. Therapy, lifestyle changes, medications and other resources are available and many find them to be hugely helpful. If she’s just a cranky person who’s unhappy with life in general, the doctor might still be a good place to start to get a referral to a good therapist or life coach.

Some women just don’t like being pregnant. Some think it’s the best time of their life, but others hate it, pure and simple. They don’t like growing someone else in their body. They hate the aches and pains, sleep disruption, and the havoc pregnancy reeks with their life and body functions Add to that a reasonable fear of the unknown and it’s no wonder a whole lot of women just aren’t that into being pregnant. That shouldn’t be grounds for judgment. It is what it is. Will it affect their parenting? Maybe. But most women do just fine once they’ve recovered from delivery and get that kid off their bladder. I don’t know that any medical studies support the theory that crankiness will adversely affect delivery itself but I can’t imagine it’s unavoidable either. Women get a little edgy in labor.

Statistics show mothers who are prone to depression before or during pregnancy are at greater risk for post-partum depression. Post-partum depression sucks. It interferes with all aspects of new motherhood and can seriously affect the mother/child relationship. Even if this friend doesn’t sink into a full-blown depression, other depressive disorders like dysthymia – kind of a chronic, low-grade funk – can be a real plague. If she ‘s open to getting professional help, Eileen might be able to provide basic resource information or other practical support. If not, try to be supportive any way. Pregnancy’s tough on a woman no matter what her baseline personality is like. We’ve got to help each other through it.

Thanks for the question, Eileen and keep them coming. I hope the rest of you are having happy pregnancies.

Got a question for Jeanne? E-mail it to and it may be answered in a future blog post.

This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical advice from your primary caregiver.