Perinatal Depression: What Are the Symptoms?

Mandy, Midwife at The Baby Academy

It’s often that pregnant women hear of the risk of postnatal depression, the depression that may arise after you have given birth to your baby. Prenatal depression is talked about less often but no less important to be informed about. This is depression that may arise during pregnancy and can worsen as you come closer to your due date without the necessary support. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of depression overlap with those of a normal pregnancy, such as fatigue, weight gain, and mood changes, meaning that this illness can often go undiagnosed. Hopefully, this list of the symptoms will help you to recognize if what you’re feeling are symptoms of depression, in which case it is essential that you reach out to your support system and a professional for help.


Finding it hard to sleep at night, due to incessant thoughts about the upcoming labour or due to negative feelings is a possible symptom of prenatal depression. This is distinct from staying up at night because of physical discomfort or needing to use the bathroom. Rather, this involves frequent subsequent nights of attempting to sleep but failing, resulting in you staying up for more than an hour or two each night.

Loss of appetite

A change in appetite is natural during pregnancy and many foods become undesirable to your new taste buds. However, if you find yourself going hours without eating due to a lack of energy or motivation, this may be a symptom of prenatal depression.

Increased anxiety

Nerves are normal in pregnancy. You are going through a big transition in your life which will bring with it many new changes. If, however, you are experiencing constant pangs of anxiety that do not subside that persist after a few days, this could be a symptom of depression. Similarly, if you are constantly worrying about the well-being of yourself, your baby, or other people around you, it’s important to reach out for help.

Lack of motivation to get out of bed

This symptom does not refer to the increased rest you naturally need in pregnancy or days where you enjoy catching up on your favourite shows in bed. If you are spending hours a day in bed to avoid other people, because you do not see any reason to get up, or due to exhaustion or sadness, it’s likely that you are experiencing prenatal depression.

Negative thoughts about you or your baby

Many pregnant women experience some level of self-doubt, wondering how they will be able to cope as a new mother. This is natural. However, if you are constantly questioning your potential to take care of your baby or having distressing thoughts about them, or having thoughts about hurting yourself, it’s imperative you share this with somebody. Admitting this will not make anybody question your potential as a mother, it will only signify to them that you need additional support during this time.

Reaching out to other people to let them know that you are struggling is hard, especially when you are already dealing with the other, more common challenges that arise with pregnancy. However, letting somebody that you trust know that you are feeling this way is the first step to feeling better, and you will feel better! Remember that you will be an amazing mum and that it is perfectly fine, encouraged even, to get that bit of support as you make your way through pregnancy. This will allow you to enjoy each part of this beautiful experience.