How to Manage Anxiety During Pregnancy

Read about the most useful tips and tricks for relieving and managing anxiety during pregnancy.

Anxiety in pregnancy is a very personal matter with pregnant moms and should be discussed with their obstetrician-gynecologist or OB-GYN. This is very common when women are expecting because there are so many changes going on and every pain can be worrisome to a new mom or a mom expecting her 5th child. Women forget how their first pregnancy went if they wait more than five years to conceive again.

So anxiety in pregnancy can be very common as well. Women are having their children at an older age and some of these pregnancies are considered high risk, so the word high risk alone can cause anxiety while pregnant. Many women are also suffering from anxiety in early pregnancy, sometimes they aren’t gaining enough milk, they feel a few cramps and become scared, some have spotting, which is light bleeding and can cause great anxiety in the early part of the pregnancy. 

Sometimes, it’s just the uterus pushing old blood out, or it could be a condition called preeclampsia, which means the uterus isn’t moving up as fast and sitting low causing bleeding. Whatever the reasoning, your doctor will find out the answer. Moms can also deliver early and have anxiety because of an early delivery.

Many babies have survived being born and some have survived at 20 weeks and have grown into young men and women with a few problems but hopefully not too many. If you are feeling anxious, talk to a friend who has been pregnant, or some relatives that had anxiety while pregnant. People can be a great source of relief if you have some close friends to talk to.

Don’t listen to the delivery horror stories because each baby is different and you might be surprised and luck out with a few hours of contractions and 15 minutes of pushing.

Natural Anxiety Relief

There are some good ways to manage your anxiety during pregnancy by finding natural anxiety relief. One good way is to begin an exercise program if you currently are not exercising. Consult your doctor first and make sure they say it’s cleared with them.

Yoga is a very good way to find natural anxiety relief. You can train your mind by practicing meditation and deep breathing for natural anxiety relief. In addition, it’s always good to stay away from caffeine because that causes anxiety. Try to stick to healthy drinks when you are expecting.

green smoothie

There are women who don’t have anxiety during their early pregnancy or it decreases.  Most likely, women will experience more anxiety. It’s something women can’t control or people for that matter.

The main cause of this anxiety is hormones. Women are experiencing huge changes in their hormones when they are pregnant and actually, hormones cause the chemicals that can affect the brain, which can cause anxiety during pregnancy. There are many changes that are enormous going on when a woman is pregnant.

There are certain feelings and emotions that make women feel happy, as there are also many emotional changes that cause fear and make women start second-guessing themselves.  They begin to feel they can’t control their life or they lost control somewhere. Sometimes women don’t sleep when they are pregnant, even in early pregnancy. Then women become very tired and the negative thought patterns start along with more anxiety while pregnant.

Symptoms

Face it you’re going to worry when you are pregnant and some is natural anxiety. This is a new experience for you and even though you have climbed many mountains before, you might have suffered a miscarriage at one point so you will be more prone to anxiety during pregnancy. Watch for too much anxiety and if this is starting to ruin your daily life, where you are bouncing around in fear.

Some of the symptoms are you start to feel uncontrollable with anxiety, you begin to worry too much about everything, including the baby and your health. You are unable to concentrate and you feel very cranky and agitated. Your muscles are constantly tense and you are not sleeping well.

anxiety symptoms in pregnancy

Sometimes anxiety in pregnancy can cause panic attacks. These come on as acute and have the symptoms that were mentioned in the prior paragraphs. If you are experiencing a panic attack, it may seem like these symptoms are causing you physical pains, and this can make it all feel worse.

There are symptoms that you can tell that are panic attacks which include, trouble breathing, your mind feels like you are going insane and you start experiencing impending doom because you feel something bad is going to happen.

Anxiety Risks

Just remember that all women can experience anxiety while pregnant and there are some risks that can cause this anxiety while pregnant. This can include a family history of anxiety or panic attacks or both, a woman’s own personal history of these risks along with depression. Trauma that occurred in your lifetime. The use of illegal drugs can have long term effects on the brain and too much stress daily.

Treatment

Just because your having a bad day doesn’t mean you have a serious case of anxiety while pregnant. If one day leads into a few weeks then it’s a different story and you might want to call your doctor to set up an appointment to talk to them. If your condition is very detrimental to your health, your doctor might give you a prescription after he studies the risks vs the benefits of the medication.

Your physical health is just as important as your mental health but if your mental health is causing phantom physical pains, then the benefits outweigh the risks of the medication. You could also ask your doctor about a natural medication called melatonin which helps with anxiety and sleep without any side effects. You can purchase it in the vitamin department at any store that carries vitamins.  Just make sure this isn’t a risk for your pregnancy.

holding baby

Anxiety and Baby

You probably have heard many times from friends, relatives, and neighbors to quit worrying because it might affect your baby. Your family and friends mean well but it doesn’t mean you can turn off your anxiety like a faucet. Research does say you should get your anxiety under control. Research also shows that high levels of anxiety while pregnant, can cause preeclampsia, premature birth, and low birth weight.

Tips

1. Discuss your Feelings

When you are feeling anxious during your pregnancy, you should talk to someone. You can talk to your companion, close friends, relatives, or your parents for support. It helps to get your thoughts out there along with your feelings so they don’t take over your whole day.  You can also look for a therapist online, or ask your doctor to recommend a good therapist.

Every state and local agency has counselors available 24/7. There is also a program called Crisis pregnancy, for single and married moms to be. This program offers all the items you need for your baby along with a full range of support if you are suffering from anxiety while pregnant.

2. Find a Hobby

Find something to get your mind off your anxiety and a physical exercise is a great option.  A regular release of endorphins is good for the body and it helps control your stress. Substance abuse destroys your natural endorphins that are really your only natural painkillers in your body. Keep active to alleviate stress and anxiety.

Walking, hiking, swimming, running, and yoga is a great activity to do when you are pregnant. If you aren’t into exercise, then find something else, take a class, paint, draw, keep a journal on your feelings during pregnancy. Redecorate a room, stain a dresser or decorate the nursery to keep your mind off your anxiousness.

hiking

3. Keep that Mind Moving

Start breathing deeply, but start slowly at first. If you sit down for 5 minutes three times a day and do some deep breathing exercises, your body will tend to release more endorphins and you don’t even have to work up a sweat! Endorphins are a natural high that helps you to feel good about yourself.

There are so many good things that endorphins can do for your body while you are pregnant. Try meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy and deep breathing exercises for starts. The recommended amount of deep breathing is 20 to 30 minutes daily to reduce stress but it’s good to start at 5 minutes 3 times per day and work your way up.

You don’t want to get too light-headed. Oxygen is very good and well needed for your nervous system and your brain.

Make sure you are comfortable when you start deep breathing or meditation and close your eyes. Use your imagination and try to see yourself smiling so you can start letting go of the tension in your muscles. Then imagine you have holes in your feet and breathe in and imagine the air going through your whole body. You can then exhale and repeat the process.

4. Rest

Make sure you are sleeping well and getting enough sleep. Sometimes women have problems sleeping all through their pregnancy but prioritize and rest because a good catnap can reduce anxiety and stress and help with all of the other symptoms you are having.

writing a journal

5. Journal

You might be tired of talking because it can be exhausting. Pregnant women start nesting in early pregnancy sometimes so if you have a lot of thoughts, write them down from the names you pick for your baby to the emotions you are feeling daily. This is your personal journal and no one can see it but you, so be creative, there is no judgment here and let it all out.

You just might feel that writing helps you with more than just your anxiety, it also can help you keep and stay organized and prioritize tasks. In addition, don’t be afraid to write your worries down because it helps you identify the different triggers that can cause panic attacks or those days your overly anxious. Think about all the time wasted on one little worry and remember, life is too short and you can’t live on “what ifs.”

6. Empower Yourself

Some women suffer from the fear of childbirth and if you feel your anxiety is connected to childbirth, think about taking some birthing classes. Childbirth is a woman’s natural way to give birth to a baby so unnecessary anxiety could be harmful. You can learn quite a bit of information in these classes and thy teach moms to be about all the stages of labor.

You also learn about what your body does and how it reacts to childbirth, and if you get the book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, you can find out what happens during every major change to your body and baby growing.

These classes also help moms cope with pain and give mothers to be the ability to meet women in their situation that they can talk to and learn new tips about anxiety while pregnant.

7. Questions for Your Doctor

Many women have anxiety that implodes their daily life or also are constant panic attacks that they are suffering from. If you find you can’t cope with this constant anxiety or the panic attacks that are causing your blood pressure to raise, please talk to your doctor.  Don’t wait because this might be a dangerous condition in the long run for you and baby.

Doctors can suggest counseling or therapy, but can also prescribe some prescription medication that is harmless for you and baby. This medication is designed to help you with the severity of the symptoms. Don’t ever feel like you’re being a burden or a pest to your health professionals because it’s always good to get out what is bothering you by talking about the doubts you have and all the emotions you are experiencing.

You and baby are number one, so don’t feel that this isn’t important because you are number one and you have to take care of your growing child in your womb. If you don’t especially feel like your needs are being met, you can always ask for second opinions. Many clinics are conducting meet and greet so people find the doctors they are the most comfortable with.

ask your doctor

Steps

Anxiety while pregnant is very normal. Anxiety also affects all women differently, so what one is experiencing, the other may not be. In addition, what worked for some women you have talked to might not work for you as far as feeling back in control with anxiety while pregnant.

Always remember that communication is the key for your network of supporters, so if you are not being honest, they won’t know what is bothering you. Don’t be afraid to sit down and do some Yoga to help with stress, walking, hiking, bicycling, etc. These are great stress relievers when you are pregnant. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because the sooner, the better. What’s the most fantastic feeling and emotion and mother to be can have? The answer is inner peace while pregnant.

Living with Anxiety while Pregnant

If you feel like you have loads of anxiety while you are pregnant, this will just add more stress to your life. Pregnancy is one of the most wonderful times in a woman’s life and also the most challenging. Pregnancy is a time for women to enjoy their lives and chronic worrying stops women from enjoying this wonderful experience.

This is called (GAD) or Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This can last for months, unfortunately, so this can continue through pregnancy until well after. 

Anxiety while pregnant, will make you feel like you are losing control so as mentioned before, talk to your doctor if you feel this is going to be never-ending anxiety during pregnancy.

sitting near lake

Don’t Allow Stress to take Control

Some women feel like stress is taking over, so the best thing moms to be can do is explore different options so you learn your management skills and try mindfulness. Mindfulness is a way of putting your negative thoughts on the back burner and looking for pleasure in the little things in life. Women should know that anxiety is at it’s highest peak during the first trimester and should show relief to moms as the trimesters go on to the second and third. 

Women that were born with other disorders are more likely to get GAD because this will overlap and combine with the other disorders they have. This could be depression, which is probably the worst disorder while pregnant with anxiety because both mom and child are both vulnerable during different disorder flare-ups. This is why it’s very important to be open with friends, family, and your doctor so you get the help you need.

Complications

Another problem with women with anxiety while pregnant is that women who suffer from a major depressive disorder and GAD, have a huge problem because the combination of the two, give women a much lower quality of life. These women are also more prone to constant worry as well. If women don’t seek help for GAD, they could suffer from complications with their pregnancy.

This can become very serious because women can have low birth weight, early delivery, high blood pressure and neurological problems with their child, along with failure to thrive during pregnancy and labor. After your child is born, moms who are suffering from depression also can’t keep up with the demands of a newborn baby so they resent the child and have problems bonding with their baby.

Treatment

The good thing is that treatment for GAD is readily available during pregnancy. There are classes that include psychoeducation, therapy and sometimes medication. The treatment is geared to each mom’s own situation because every mother is pregnant.

The doctor or provider takes each woman’s symptoms and history of anxiety into account before coming up with a plan. Psychoeducation is very critical in the first trimester of pregnancy. Sometimes women have to get over the denial aspect and any stereotype they might be feeling in order for the treatment to be successful.

therapy for anxiety in pregnancy

Therapy

There is something else referred to as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy is used for cases of GAD that are nor so severe. Sometimes medication is included and CBT works with the rebuilding of a woman’s cognitive thoughts, mediation and something called mindfulness that was mentioned before.

Medication

There are cases where women are so anxious that medication has to be given for the sake of both mother and child. Doctor’s tend to use an SSRI, which inhibits serotonin so they may prescribe something like Prozac. In some cases, benzodiazepines are given for only a short term period.

Benzodiazepines are safer because they don’t tend to cause suicidal tendencies and relax mother and baby. They are safe anxiety medication during pregnancy as they manage it while pregnant and don’t harm the baby.

Conclusion

If you have been diagnosed with GAD before you became pregnant, you might be thinking about your disorder and wondering if you should even bring a child into the world. There is no reason not to have a baby. Talk to your doctor, there are many different things that can help you stay in control with GAD.

Try something new like exercise, yoga, support groups, etc. if you are worried about the ability to bond with your child then it’s your decision, but please check with your doctor first. You might be destroying a wonderful opportunity with childbirth if you are constantly worried constantly. Come up with a plan with your doctor and ask him if he can help teach you how to stay in control.

Find the right therapist, so you learn how to manage your symptoms of panic attacks and anxiety if this starts to happen. Make sure you can call someone if your symptoms get out of control so your support person can talk you down and maybe you can both deep breathe together or practice mindfulness.

Keep a good friend or relative and your doctor on speed dial. There is no reason that any woman should jet a common illness take over and prevent them from experiencing the most wonderful feeling of their life.

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