As a parent, your health and mental wellbeing have a powerful effect on your child’s physical and psychological development. That’s why it’s so important for parents to be flourishing and well.
Looking after your physical health
If you’re pregnant or planning to start a family, these are all important factors in creating a strong foundation for your child’s development:
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Regular physical activity
- Cutting down or preferably stopping smoking, drinking and substance use
- Making sure you’re up-to-date with key vaccinations, as certain viral infections during your pregnancy can affect your child’s developing brain
- Being a healthy weight, as being underweight or low in essential vitamins and minerals can also hinder an unborn child’s development.
Looking after your own mental wellbeing is equally important.
Stress can affect your unborn child, and parental depression, anxiety, substance misuse or other mental health conditions during pregnancy can have flow-on effects on your child’s development.
Plenty of new parents feel all sorts of emotions before and after the birth of their baby. It’s totally normal to feel a bit stressed and anxious, and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed, ashamed or scared to talk about how you’re feeling and ask for support.
Perinatal depression and anxiety are also common and can impact on parents’ ability to be at their best.
If you or your partner are stressed or struggling to cope, it’s really important to get help – early. That might mean seeking support from family and friends, speaking to your midwife, doctor, infant health nurse, or calling a parenting helpline.
For other tips, check out our Staying AHEAD content.