Thankfully, more and more people are learning about the signs, risks, and treatments of postpartum depression. Sadly, however, there's another risk to women's mental health that's not being discussed: prenatal depression. While pregnancy can certainly be a happy time for many, there are others parents-to-be who struggle for the entire 40 weeks (more or less) it takes to have a baby. I know there were ways I wish my partner helped me get through prenatal depression, and I know additional information and continued education surrounding pregnancy and mental health would've made it much easier for him to be there when I needed him most.
I actually suffered through prenatal depression during both of my pregnancies. With my daughter (whom I lost shortly after birth), the depression was extremely dark. I often found myself crying inside my car, wondering if there was a nearby building I could jump off of. It wasn’t necessarily that I didn’t want to be pregnant, because no one was forcing me to grow a human inside my body and women in this country have the freedom to choose whether or not they want to be and/or remain pregnant. I just didn’t want to exist. Somehow, I was able to push through it, but not everyone is so lucky. With my son, I already knew I was susceptible to prenatal depression. I was still in the depths of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused from the loss of my first child, who was born premature, so it wasn’t easy. I had a steady job, though, and was able to keep busy, keep enough supportive friends and relatives around me, and hold myself together and in one piece.
What got me through prenatal depression, however, might not work for another woman struggling, too. In fact, it's not uncommon for pregnant women to require medication in order to manage their depression. I can't help but think that I probably would have benefited from some, myself. My husband did his best to be there for me, though, and while I'm grateful of his efforts I know there are certainly more than a few things I wish he would have done. Things like, for example, the following: