Special Issues for Pregnant Women with Mental Illness

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Background: Women who have a mental illness are no less likely to plan for motherhood than any other group in the community. On the contrary, many women with mental illnesses are fully functioning members of society, juggling employment, career, study, family and parenting in conjunction with the ‘normal’ stressors of life. However this is not the case for all. Their burden of illness places extra strain and stress on their lifestyle and family dynamics, often being exacerbated during pregnancy and following the birth. Although some of these effects may be ameliorated using different treatment modalities, they are frequently offered in a disconnected fashion. The introduction of an integrated, holistic approach, as the primary model of care, can successfully incorporate aspects of assessment, prevention and management, thereby strengthening maternal mental health in pregnancy and encouraging healthy mother and infant outcomes.

Purpose: This paper will highlight and discuss special issues for pregnant women with mental illnesses, to increase clinical awareness, encourage risk assessment and promote management planning, by using an integrated model of care in support of women during pregnancy and in early motherhood.

Conclusion: Pregnancy places extraordinary stress on every conceivable aspect of a woman’s life, including the exponential changes to her own body, intimate relationships, family groupings, career development and lifestyle adjustments. There is true, ongoing, holistic change to the extent that mental health can be compromised. Knowledge of such changes and the opportunity to encourage healthy outcomes must, therefore, be fully supported with an integrated approach by clinicians, consumers and carers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number280
JournalJournal of Nursing & Care
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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