Pregnancy can be a very exciting time, knowing that you will soon be holding your new bundle of joy. However, worry and stress can also become prominent feelings when expecting a baby. In this article, we will detail how to cope with pregnancy anxiety.
Studies show that about 15-23% of women experience some degree of anxiety while pregnant. The root of this anxiety is not always the same and can be anything from worrying about the health of the baby, the pain of labor and delivery, how you are going to be able to afford a baby, or how life, in general, is going to change. Women who had previous fertility problems or miscarriages, in particular, tend to worry about the health of their baby.
While some worry and anxiety can be a normal part of your pregnancy experience, elevated levels of anxiety can have a negative effect on your pregnancy and postpartum experience, as well as on your child’s wellbeing. In fact, pregnancy anxiety has been found to often lead to postpartum anxiety and depression, as well as having low birth weight in children or premature births.
So, what can you do to overcome your fears and cope with anxiety while expecting? The good news is that there are a lot of coping strategies and things that you can try to deal with it and alleviate the feeling.
Symptoms of Pregnancy Anxiety
You need to understand that there are different types of anxiety disorders, and the symptoms can vary depending on what you are going through. However, these are the most common symptoms of serious pregnancy anxiety:
- Inability to concentrate
- An uncontrollable sense of anxiety
- Worrying excessively about things, particularly about your health or your baby
- Inability to relax and stay still
- Difficulty sleeping
Some women may also experience some physical symptoms, such as:
- Racing heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Excessive sweating
- Tensed muscles
Of course, there’s a difference between normal worrying and anxiety that just consumes you. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and feel like your anxiety is preventing you from functioning properly, then you should really consider talking to your healthcare provider.
Tips on How to Cope with Anxiety during Pregnancy
Once you’ve identified your anxiety symptoms and acknowledged the fact that you need some coping mechanisms to deal with it, then it’s time to go through these tips.
Talk about it
Whether it’s to a friend, family member, your partner, or your doctor, it’s important that you talk about it with someone. Sharing your feelings will allow them to give you with advice, support, and treatment if necessary.
Write about it
Writing about your fears and worries can also help. Putting your feelings down on paper will allow you to reflect on them, see things more clearly and potentially come up with some solutions.
Journaling can be particularly good if you are experiencing a sense of lack of control. There are lots of pregnancy journals and planners, including free ones, that allow you to write down your daily feelings and have got lots of reminders for doctor appointments and scans.
Exercising is the best natural way to increase serotonin levels and therefore decrease your stress and anxiety levels. There are lots of pregnancy exercises that are safe for all trimesters, such as swimming, yoga or even simply walking. Give it a go!
Learn relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques, such as self-hypnosis, meditation or breathing exercises can really help you to calm down during pregnancy, reducing any stress and anxiety.
Prenatal yoga classes or meditation classes can be a good start if you prefer something in person. Otherwise, you can try one of the many meditation apps for your phone.
Get enough sleep
This might feel almost impossible, particularly towards the end of pregnancy when your belly is so big and your body so sore that no position in bed brings you comfort. Plus, anxiety only makes falling asleep harder.
However, really try and get as much rest are you can. It’s like a dog chasing its tail: the less you sleep, the more intense anxiety can get, the harder it gets to fall asleep, etc. Break the cycle by having little naps during the day if you can, or invest on a good pregnancy pillow that will alleviate the discomfort in bed.
Build your knowledge
Very often, pregnancy anxiety is triggered by the unknowns ahead of us. What will happen to my body and baby as pregnancy progresses? Or What happens during labor and delivery? What shall I expect once baby is here? Will I be able to breastfeed?
Not having any answers to all these questions can only increase your anxiety: that’s why learning about the whole pregnancy, birth and postpartum process is extremely important. Sign up for an antenatal or birthing class if you can, as well as a breastfeeding class if you are planning on breastfeeding once baby arrives.