Women are more prone to get depression during their pregnancy more than after their babies are born.Scientists found the peak for depression was 32 weeks into pregnancy, close to birth. The unborn child may also be affected, as for example, a rise in stress hormones could lead to low birth weight.
The study looked at over 9,000 women in the Avon area, whose babies were due between April 1 1991 and December 31 1999. Clinically approved scales for measuring depression were used to asses women at 18 weeks and 32 weeks into pregnancy, and eight weeks and eight months after their child was born. The researchers found the average scores recorded were higher during pregnancy than after the births.
Dr Mary Nolan of the National Childbirth Trust, an expert in antenatal care, told "It may be that it's in a way normal to have a low trough in pregnancy. It's the most enormous life-changing event imaginable. Thirty-two weeks is when the reality of it is hitting home in a particularly vivid way." She added that over the last 10 - 15 years, the number of tests and lifestyle advice pregnant women faced could well have increased the anxiety associated with pregnancy.