5 Easy Mental Health Strategies for Pregnancy & Postpartum

stressed woman with hand on head

While we know that no two motherhood journeys are the same, the mental load and hormonal shifts can cause responses like wonder and excitement, but also stress, anxiety, and even depression. So, just as important it is to maintain a balanced diet and take your prenatal vitamins, it’s equally important to care for your mental state. Here are five evidence-based mental health strategies for pregnancy, empowering you to safeguard your well-being right at home.

Pregnancy is a unique time that can bring a whirlwind of emotions, challenges, and adjustments. Amidst the joy and wonder, the journey of motherhood can sometimes be accompanied by feelings of stress, anxiety, and even depression. However, there's hope and help available through evidence-based practices rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and compassion-focused therapy (CFT). In this blog, we'll explore some empowering at-home mental health strategies tailored to the unique needs of expecting and new moms.

Understanding the Journey

Before diving into the strategies, it's crucial to recognize the emotional landscape of motherhood. Pregnancy and childbirth trigger a cascade of hormonal changes, which can significantly impact mood and mental well-being. From the anticipation of childbirth to the demands of caring for a newborn, the journey of motherhood encompasses a spectrum of emotions.

Research conducted by O'Hara and McCabe (2013) highlights that perinatal mood and anxiety disorders affect approximately 15-20% of women during pregnancy and the postpartum period. These disorders can have significant implications for maternal well-being, like insomnia, feelings of guilt, severe anxiety, and so much more. Additionally, these disorders can have an impact on childbirth and the baby, like preterm labor, preeclampsia, and other conditions that can stick with the baby for life.

It’s so important to know that there is no shame in feeling low, anxious, or depressed during pregnancy or postpartum. It’s common and you are not alone. You are doing your best and the fact that you’re here means you want what’s best for you and your baby. Let’s get into it:

Mental Health Strategy 1: Embrace Compassion

Compassion for yourself—and others—is the cornerstone of resilience and well-being, especially during the transformative period of motherhood. As an expecting or new mom, it's common to fall into the trap of self-criticism and unrealistic expectations. These affect us, as well as those around us. However, practicing compassionate mind training can help you navigate the challenges with greater ease.

Research by Neff and Germer (2013) suggests that self-compassion is associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression and higher levels of well-being. By shifting how you think to incorporate kindness and understanding into your daily life, you can cultivate emotional resilience, nurture your mental health, and improve your relationships

How to Practice Self-Compassion at Home

When you’re feeling self-critical or hard on yourself, you can practice treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a dear friend in the same situation. When faced with difficulties or setbacks, try to acknowledge your feelings without judgment. You can also practice self-soothing techniques such as gentle breathing exercises or comforting affirmations, soothing our minds and bodies at the same time.

Mental Health Strategy 2: Challenge and Balance Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts are automatic thoughts. Left unchallenged, they can exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety, leading to a downward spiral of negative emotions. A type of therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) aims to help us recognize and reframe negative and unhelpful thoughts and patterns. Cognitive behavioral therapy uses many evidence-based practices to mitigate negative thoughts which can have an immediate impact on our well-being. Here are a few ways to practice CBT:

  • If you are feeling low, try to still yourself and figure out if there is a thought that might be leading to your low feelings
  • Remember, we are always primed to think negative thoughts more easily and often than positive ones
  • If you can identify this thought, can you think of a more positive spin on that thought to balance out the negative one?
  • Once you’ve identified the positive thought, can you practice thinking that instead?

Research by Beck (2011) underscores the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy in treating perinatal depression and anxiety. By recognizing and reframing negative thoughts, expecting and new moms can cultivate a more balanced and resilient mindset.

"Have you ever heard of Canopie? It’s our research-backed maternal mental health support resource that uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Compassion Focused Therapy principles to proactively protect and care for your well-being across all the changes that happen in pregnancy and postpartum. Download the app and start your personalized program and classes today! "

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How to Practice CBT at Home

You can keep a thought journal to track your thoughts and emotions throughout the day. When you notice a negative thought arising, try to ask yourself: Is this thought based on facts or assumptions? What evidence supports or refutes this belief? Try to replace irrational thoughts with more balanced and realistic perspectives.

Mental Health Strategy 3: Prioritize Self-Care

Self-care isn't a luxury; it's a necessity, especially for expecting and new moms. Carving out time for self-care replenishes your energy reserves and nurtures your mental and emotional state, enabling you to show up fully for yourself and your baby.

Research by Dennis and Ross (2006) emphasizes the importance of self-care practices in preventing and managing postpartum depression. Engaging in activities that promote relaxation and self-nourishment can significantly impact maternal mental health and overall adjustment to motherhood.

 How to Practice Self-Care at Home

Create a self-care routine that fits into your daily life and really feels worth it. You can create a list of activities and rate how much they truly help your mood. Whether it's taking a bath, indulging in your favorite hobby, or simply savoring a cup of tea in solitude, try to prioritize activities that truly feel replenishing or restorative. Remember, self-care isn't selfish; it's an act of self-preservation.

Mental Health Strategy 4: Foster Connection

Motherhood can feel isolating, particularly in the early stages when you're adjusting to your new life. Cultivating meaningful connections with other moms can provide invaluable support and camaraderie.

Research by Giallo et al. (2014) suggests that social support plays a vital role in maternal mental health and well-being. By connecting with other mothers who understand and empathize with your experiences, you can feel less alone and more supported on your journey.

How to Foster Connection at Home

The maternal mental health support resource Canopie hosts live, expert-led classes through Zoom that cover topics like babyproofing your relationship and bonding with your baby. One of the greatest takeaways the classes offer is the ability to sit alongside other moms in a similar point in life and share questions and experiences. Share your questions, seek advice, and offer support to fellow moms. Remember, you're not alone in this journey.

Mental Health Strategy 5: Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness invites you to anchor yourself in the present moment, cultivating awareness and acceptance of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Incorporating a moment of meditation or deep breathing into your daily routine can help alleviate stress and enhance emotional well-being.

Research by Dimidjian and Goodman (2014) suggests that mindfulness-based interventions can be effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety in perinatal women. By cultivating a non-judgmental awareness of your experiences, you can navigate the ups and downs of motherhood with greater ease.

How to Practice Mindfulness at Home

Dedicate a few moments to a breathing exercise called belly breathing. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, giving a moment of gratitude to these areas of the body and honoring all the hard work your heart and belly have done throughout this process. Now, as you find stillness, take in a slow, deep breath through your nose, noticing your belly rise with the inhale. After a few seconds, slowly release the breath out through the mouth, noticing your belly return to the start. Embrace each moment with curiosity and non-judgmental awareness.

Bring the Hacks Home That Work For You

By beginning to use these empowering at-home mental health strategies, you can build a routine tailored to your unique preferences and needs. What technique seems to click with you? Which one fulfills you the most? Which one can you see becoming a habit? By approaching these evidence-based strategies with openness, you may discover a lifelong practice that continues to nurture your mental well-being and that will also positively impact your baby. Try to remember how worthy you are of compassion, support, and self-care every day.

About the Author

Anne Wanlund, Co-Founder & CEO of Canopie

Anne is a maternal mental health advocate and mom of a spunky toddler. Canopie’s signature programs use clinically-validated techniques to make calmer, healthier, and more resilient moms in just twelve days. 

Information provided in blogs should not be used as a substitute for medical care or consultation.


- Beck, J. S. (2011). Cognitive behavior therapy: Basics and beyond. Guilford Press.

- Dennis, C. L., & Ross, L. (2006). Women's perceptions of partner support and conflict in the development of postpartum depressive symptoms. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 56(6), 588-599.

- Dimidjian, S., & Goodman, S. H. (2014). Nonpharmacologic intervention and prevention strategies for depression during pregnancy and the postpartum. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 57(3), 508-515.

- Giallo, R., Cooklin, A., Wade, C., & D'Esposito, F. (2014)