Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Mental wellbeing during pregnancy

6-minute read

Key facts

  • It’s just as important to look after your mental health and wellbeing during pregnancy as your physical health.
  • If you are mentally healthy, you will be in the best position to manage the challenges of pregnancy and life with a new baby.
  • Some expectant parents develop mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety during pregnancy.
  • If anxiety is affecting your ability to function, or you have a low mood lasting longer than 2 weeks, it’s a good idea to see your doctor or midwife for advice and support.
  • Getting enough rest, exercising, eating healthy meals and reducing stress will all help you maintain your mental wellbeing during pregnancy.

How can pregnancy affect my mental health and wellbeing?

Preparing to have a baby is an exciting time, but also a challenging one. Don’t be surprised if you experience some emotional change at this time.

It's normal to have some worries and fears about what's coming when you're pregnant. Many people feel quite stressed at this time, particularly when they know it's a big change that they can't fully prepare for or control.

In addition, pregnancy itself can be stressful. As well as coping with hormonal and physical changes, you may feel stressed about things such as antenatal tests. You may feel especially worried you've had a bad experience before, such as a miscarriage.

For these reasons, pregnancy can increase the likelihood of developing a mental health condition.

Listen to Dianne Zalitis, midwife, talk about How to get your brain ready for a baby on the Babyology podcast.

What mental health conditions can I experience during pregnancy?

Both partners can experience mental health conditions during the pregnancy (the 'antenatal' period), as well as after the birth (the 'postnatal' period).

For some people, pregnancy can lead to conditions such as:

Up to 1 in 10 females and 1 in 20 males experience antenatal depression. Antenatal anxiety is also common, and many people experience anxiety and depression at the same time.

Certain factors can put you at greater risk of developing anxiety and depression during pregnancy. These include:

  • a previous mental health condition
  • feeling that you don't have enough support
  • going through a hard time, such as in your relationship
  • past or current abuse of any sort
  • problems with drugs or alcohol

Anyone can have a mental health condition — it’s nothing to be ashamed about.

When is it time for me to get help?

It's a good idea for all expectant parents to monitor their mental health and wellbeing. Keep a lookout for signs that you may need help and be ready to take action if you need to.

While pregnancy has its ups and downs, it’s time to seek advice from a health professional if:

  • you've felt consistently bad (for example, if you feel sad or worried) for longer than 2 weeks
  • negative thoughts and feelings are starting to affect your ability to function normally
  • you're showing signs of depression, such as losing interest, or feeling hopeless or unable to cope
  • you feel anxious or worried most or all of the time
  • you start having panic attacks, or develop obsessive or compulsive behaviours

There’s lots of help available for mental health conditions during pregnancy. Your doctor or midwife can give you support and advice.

How can I manage my mental wellbeing during pregnancy?

There are plenty of things you can do to help manage your mental health and wellbeing during pregnancy.

  • Don’t expect too much of yourself – be realistic about what you can do; rest when you need to.
  • Try not to make major changes at this time, like moving house or changing jobs, unless you have to.
  • Keep physically active (check with your doctor or midwife before you start an exercise program).
  • Eat regular, healthy meals.
  • Spend time with people who make you feel relaxed and good about yourself.
  • Avoid using drugs or alcohol to deal with stress.
  • Make connections with other expectant parents so you can support each other.
  • Accept help if it’s offered to you; ask for help if you need it.

Where can I go for advice and support?

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2022

Back To Top

Need more information?

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing - video

Learn some simple tips on taking care of your mental and physical wellbeing during pregnancy and as new a parent.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Changes to your body during pregnancy

Pregnancy affects your body and can impact your mental health. Hormones play a role in many symptoms. Read about the changes and the help available.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Mental health and wellbeing

It's important to look after you mental health and wellbeing during your pregnancy and when you become a parent.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Emotional health for parents during pregnancy and after the birth

When you are pregnant, your baby is exposed to everything you experience. This includes the sounds in the environment, the air you breathe, the food you eat and the emotions you feel. When you feel happy and calm, it allows your baby to develop in a happy, calm environment. However, emotions like stress and anxiety can increase particular hormones in your body, which can affect your baby’s developing body and brain.

Read more on WA Health website

You and your baby's wellbeing

Looking after yourself during your pregnancy, both physically and mentally, is very important. Emotionally, you will be going through a lot of changes as your pregnancy progresses.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

6-week postnatal check

The 6-week postnatal check is an important opportunity to assess your mental and physical wellbeing and recovery after pregnancy and baby’s birth.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Pregnancy and Postnatal Mental Health Online Programs

Learn practical strategies for managing anxiety and low mood during pregnancy and postpartum with THIS WAY UP’s clinically-proven online programs for parents.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

What increases my risk of developing a mental health condition during pregnancy? - COPE

COPE's purpose is to prevent and improve the quality of life of those living with emotional and mental health problems that occur prior to and within the perinatal period.

Read more on COPE - Centre of Perinatal Excellence website

Adjusting to change: expecting and new dads | PANDA

During pregnancy and after the arrival of your new baby, adjusting to the changes of parenthood can be pretty rough.

Read more on PANDA – Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia website

Mum2BMoodBooster - online program

Mum2BMoodBooster from PIRI is an evidence-based treatment for depression during pregnancy. Mum2BMoodBooster is a free online program designed to help women recover from antenatal depression.

Read more on healthdirect website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.