Women Veterans Health Care
Pregnancy and Mental Health
Many women experience mental health concerns at some point in their lives. Especially as a woman Veteran, if you have experienced trauma in your past, you may find aspects of pregnancy, labor, breastfeeding, and parenting upsetting because of increased trauma reminders. VA can help you with your psychological health before, during, and after your pregnancy.
Mental health conditions such as depression are treatable. When planning a healthy pregnancy or seeking treatment for mental health, VA can help. When considering becoming a parent, it can be helpful to have conversation with your VA primary care provider regarding your mental health and how to continue treatment, if needed, throughout your pregnancy.
While pregnant, it is important to continue monitoring your psychological health. Depression, anxiety, and PTSD, may continue into or be affected by your pregnancy. Untreated mental health symptoms can worsen pregnancy outcomes, and your VA health care provider can help you discover the safest and most effective treatment options for your mental health concerns throughout your pregnancy.
After giving birth, many women experience feelings of sadness, worry, and anxiety. Postpartum depression symptoms are more intense than those initial feelings and can last for many months. Women who develop postpartum depression may:
- Feel sad or numb
- Have difficulty concentrating or completing tasks
- Feel "robotic," like they are going through the motions
- Have thoughts like, "This is my fault" or "I'm a bad mother"
- Not be interested in activities they used to enjoy
- Have difficulty having loving feelings toward others
- Notice scary, upsetting thoughts, including thoughts about harming their babies
About one in seven women has depression after giving birth. These rates may be even higher in women Veterans.
What services does VA provide for mental health and pregnancy?
It can be hard to talk about mental health concerns, especially when planning, during, or after pregnancy. Your VA health care provider will help you feel supported during these conversations. They will work with you to identify a plan and treatment solutions to meet your needs. VA also provides Women's Mental Health Champions who have specialized training in reproductive mental health.
In addition to Women's Mental Health Champions, VA also provides Maternity Care Coordinators, who can answer questions about services and coverage through every stage of your pregnancy. Maternity Care Coordinators can also help you:
- Navigate health care services both inside and outside of VA
- Access care for your other physical and mental health needs
- Connect to community resources
- Cope with pregnancy loss
- Connect to care after delivery
- Answer questions about billing
Maternity Care Coordinators work with your obstetrician (OB) team and VA primary care provider to ensure that your mental health care continues postpartum. They can help you navigate and access all mental health services available through VA and can help you understand your coverage and options.
If you are an LGBTQ+ Veteran and have questions about your eligibility for VA's maternity care services, call the Women Veterans Call Center or contact the LGBTQ+ Veteran Care Coordinator at your nearest facility for more information.
How do I access services for mental health and pregnancy at VA?
If you have questions or need help with your mental health at any stage of your pregnancy, talk with your Women's Health Primary Care Provider. You can also call your local VA medical center and ask for the Maternity Care Coordinator.
If you have questions or can't find what you're looking for, you can call, text, or chat online with the Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC) at 855-829-6636 to get help and find available resources and services in your area. Trained women representatives can also help you with issues such as:
- Find out if you are eligible for VA health care.
- Enroll in VA health care if you haven't already.
- Find your local VA to learn about what services may be available and to make an appointment.
WVCC representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET.
Can I get disability compensation (monthly payments) from VA related to my mental health?
Veterans may be able to receive compensation for conditions that started or got worse in the line of duty. This may include depression. Explore disability eligibility here. If you have questions, a Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) representative at your nearest regional office can explain more. Find your nearest regional office.
Where can I find more information, help and resources on mental health and pregnancy?
- If you are struggling and need help right now, contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/. You can call, text, or chat online with caring, qualified VA responders. Many of them are Veterans or family members of Veterans.
- Go to our Make the Connection website to watch a video about Kim, an Air Force Veteran, who shares her experience with postpartum depression that went undiagnosed for years.
- Use the Anonymous Screening Tool that screens for symptoms of depression.
- Seek postpartum support during pregnancy and postpartum at Postpartum Support International. Online resources are available or call 1-800-944-4PPD (4773).*
- Visit our self-help resources guide to get links to books, web resources, and mobile apps that have been reviewed and recommended by VA experts.
- Get information about suicide prevention if you are concerned about yourself or someone you know.
- Learn more about maternity care here.
* By clicking on these links, you will leave the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked Web site.