Somali women: Anxiety and pregnancy

Somali women have fled their strife-torn homeland since the early 1990s. Many remain in refugee camps in Africa, but large numbers have also subsequently settled in developed countries in Europe, in the US and Canada, and in Australia. These have identified a number of disparities in comparison to outcomes in the receiving populations. Higher rates of anemia and gestational diabetes have been found in Somali women, but lower rates of hypertension and pre-eclampsia. There several women will have more severe symptoms and will be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.


Women who have different kinds pre-existing anxiety disorder can find pregnancy challenging for any number of reason. Pregnancy and the birth experience can put women into situation which can persuade anxiety. There are also symptoms that women may have in late pregnancy such a shortness of breath, dizziness, an increased heart rate and feeling hot and sweaty which can be mistaken for panic attack or, in some instance, can lead to a panic attack. It is important to seek treatment early during pregnancy so that experience of pregnancy and motherhood is positive rather than filled with dread. In some cases, anxiety can cause high blood pressure which can actually progress to pre-eclampsia, an often fatal complication that can lead quickly lead to death or both the mother and baby. It can be treated if caught early.

Eating Disorder

It is important that you are eating disorder is under control before you consider getting pregnant pregnancy is also a tricky time for women with an eating disorder because the ability to control you eating and you weigh gain is reduced. Some women will find this very distressing. If you have an eating disorder, you are liked to require extra monitoring to ensure the health of you and your baby ideally a team of health professionals will play a role in your care and might include a dietician, a physician and a psychiatrist, in addition to a midwife and an obstetrician.

Bipolar Disorder

For women who have been diagnosed with bipolar before they are pregnant before they pregnant it is good idea to plan your pregnancy with the help of a doctor some medications used for bipolar can’t be taken during pregnancy and changes to your medication abruptly. Your treatment must be a collaborative process between you, your partner and your treating doctor or psychiatrist. Bipolar disorder can sometimes be misdiagnosed as postpartum depression in pregnancy , and can manifest for the first time prenatally once the baby is delivered medication can be resumed immediately, though breastfeeding is contradicted

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis have only recently been fully understood both document incidents of suicide. Undiagnosed, it can lead to mothers abandoning or even killing their baby. This must be addressed, as hard as iti is to contemplate. A model clinic has been established recently for women, even those with mild symptoms, by Dr Helen Kiim in Minneapolis, Minnesota  one feature of this clinic that distinguishes its excellence above other similar programs is that the mother are not required to leave theie babies at home – an additional source of neither anxiety-not  are  they admitted as inpatients. It is a 5-weeks program where the babies stay with the mother all day an the women meet as a group daily besides individual therapy.


Finally , it is important to let your health professional know if there are any warning signs, as it may be developing depression or anxiety. Sometimes it can be hard to know if you are experiencing symptoms of depression. Some women simply take it for granted that having a new baby is hard work and feeling a bit  overwhelmed  is all part of being a new parent. If you are not sure try talking to someone about it .Depression and anxiety will need specific treatment your own well being and that of your baby.


  1. and –birth/mental-health pregnancy/baby-blues.
  2. The style/2010mar/04/i-have-phobia-of-pregnancy.
  3. Interview with Stephanie Sorensen, Midwife and author, women’s health outreach director for African families Development Center, Minneapolis, MN

Latest News

To Top