A recent University of Queensland study has highlighted the importance of early screening for mental wellbeing, particularly during the current challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. This applies to couples during pregnancy and post-delivery, but also couples who are planning for a baby.
The study found that one-fifth of Australian women don’t receive the recommended mental health checks, and up to 20 per cent of women report depression or maternal anxiety either during pregnancy or in the first year after their baby is born. This can lead to a baby’s premature birth or low birth weight, and also impact their child’s future development.
As the circumstances continually change and in some cases lockdown restrictions ease, it is important to note that many couples have also been socially isolated from their family, friends and support groups. Despite access to digital communication platforms like Zoom, FaceTime and teleconferencing that help us to connect, many people are still left feeling isolated and alone. Telehealth has been a valuable tool to help to women who are planning pregnancies. I have had many Zoom and phone-in consultations with women and their partners advising about fertility and early pregnancy matters.
However, despite medical experts encouraging women to regularly engage with their GPs, many have developed more advanced physical and mental health issues than they normally would, as they are presenting much later to health professionals.
With any pregnancy or if you are trying for a baby, it is vital you don’t delay investigations for any potential problems. If you have been trying to conceive for six months or more if you over 35, or for 12 months or more if you are under 35, it is important you make contact with us so we can optimise your chances of pregnancy.
Delaying these investigations may make some fertility matters more advanced due to the delay in diagnosis and treatment. This also applies to mental health concerns, which can be an issue not only after delivery, but before and throughout a woman’s pregnancy. Our team are extremely proactive in screening for mental health issues, including with a formal assessment, such as the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Score questionnaire.
Remember, your mental health during COVID-19 is just as important as your physical wellbeing. I truly believe developing trust and rapport with each of my patients and their extended family is absolutely essential. Our team are here to support you before, during and after your pregnancy. By regularly communicating with us, and undertaking pre-pregnancy assessments and antenatal classes, you are maximising your chances of a safe, fulfilling and enjoyable pregnancy.
My team and I would be delighted to assist you on your fertility and pregnancy journey. Call (07) 3353 3100 to book an appointment today.