Reducing PMAD Risk
Many factors can increase the chance a person will develop a PMAD, although sometimes one occurs without any risk factors present.
Just as a woman can be proactive about the physical health of herself and her baby, she can also make preparations during pregnancy to take care of her emotional and mental health. In addition, she can recruit a support person or team to help identify warning signs, identify and strengthen her resources, reduce or eliminate stress and put health practices in place.
PMAD Risk Factors
Specific actions that can help reduce risk:
Make a Plan. Ask friends, family and others in the mother’s extended network (work, faith community, neighborhood) to bring meals, clean house, do the grocery shopping or hold the baby while Mom takes a nap.
Practice Healthy Lifestyle Habits. More now than ever, eating healthy, sleeping at least four to five hours at a time and getting moderate exercise can help keep up the mother’s energy and reduce stress.
Identify People to Talk with Openly. No matter how complicated or uncomplicated a woman’s pregnancy and childbirth, she needs to be able to talk about her feelings, concerns and fears and get feedback on how things are going. Expressing herself to safe friends and family members, trusted clergy or a new mom’s group can help allay feelings of isolation and anxiety. Also, spending time with other moms can provide helpful insights and support for healthy habits.
Reduce Stress. Use stress management techniques such as taking 10-15 minutes a day to meditate or practice yoga, shortening the daily to-do list, not taking on more responsibilities, being more flexible about how things get accomplished and setting more realistic expectations about being a parent.
Seek Professional Help. If facing a number of risk factors, especially personal history of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, another psychiatric illness or a previous PMAD, consult with a mental health professional during pregnancy to review other ways to reduce risk and possibly schedule check-ins throughout the pregnancy and postpartum.