How To Manage Anxiety During Pregnancy

Stress During Pregnancy Is Normal

Tips to Manage Stress During Pregnancy

âItâs normal to wake up in the night and worry. I donât think Iâve ever had a patient report not doing it at least some of the time. I like to call it the âthe midnight imp.â Dreams seem to be more vivid during pregnancy, and a lot of women who have never before woken up in the middle of the night to worry, do so during pregnancy,â Domar says. âTheyâre worrying about their health, about the babyâs health, about what itâs going to be like to have a new baby, about financial strain, about what the impact might be on siblings or a partner… itâs a lot to think about!â

It certainly is! And it would be a little weird if moms-to-be werenât thinking about some of these things, as we know a certain amount of worry can be a good thing, and function as a means of preparation. But if anxiety starts to affect a womenâs ability to function, or her overall quality of life â say mom isnât sleeping at all, or isnât getting enough nutrients, or is maybe even relying on alcohol â well obviously all of these things impact both the mother and fetal development.

Limit News Or Online Information

With the lockdown, the internet became our primary source of information. The nature of the COVID-19 situation can make us curious to have a constant check on what is happening in society.

But, fueling our curiosity with this dire information can make us more anxious, especially pregnant women. So, make sure that you limit the amount of news that you read or watch every day.

Sip On Peppermint Tea

Peppermint leaves contain menthol which acts as a muscle relaxant and sedative. Peppermint also helps remove gas from your stomach and resolve stomach issues like nausea and vomiting. Sipping on peppermint tea is a healthy, all-natural way to relieve stress during pregnancy. Keep some peppermint tea bags in your purse or briefcase so you can fight stress and tummy trouble wherever you are. Peppermint tea is naturally caffeine-free so you can sip on it all day at work or while lounging at home.

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Why Seek Help For Pregnancy Anxiety

Many women are under the mistaken impression that the best way to deal with anxiety is just to struggle through it. But if your anxiety is severe, there are a few reasons its best to seek help.

Although you might tell yourself Ill just feel better once the baby is here, research has actually shown that women who have anxiety during pregnancy are more likely to have postpartum depression after their baby is born.

So although anxiety and depression dont necessarily occur together, they are closely related and by learning ways to control your anxiety before your new little one arrives, youll increase the odds that youll be able to enjoy those joyful first few months.

Another reason to explore treatments: Long-term, severe anxiety during pregnancy can affect your babys development.

Studies have shown that anxiety or depression during pregnancy can increase the odds of preterm birth and low birth weight and even make it more likely a child will, down the road, have emotional or behavioral challenges.

Facing An Anxiety Diagnosis

How to Manage Anxiety During Pregnancy

While there are risk factors that can make an anxiety diagnosis during pregnancy more likely, including a family history of anxiety, a personal history of anxiety or mental health conditions, and prior trauma , pregnancy-related anxiety can pop up anytime during a womans 40 weeks of gestation.

For some women, pregnancy anxiety is part of their unique package of pregnancy-related symptoms, just like a sore back and swollen ankles. Dealing with any sort of pregnancy symptom at work can add more to your overflowing plate .

Thats not to say your excessive worrying is destined to stick around forever. But it is important to note that while many health professionals acknowledge the baby blues as temporary negative emotions, postpartum depression and anxiety take a little more effort to manage.

Luckily, there are plenty of tips for managing anxiety during pregnancy that can be applied to both personally and professionally.

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Can Stress During Pregnancy Hurt Your Baby

It is impossible to completely avoid stress during pregnancy, just like during other times in your life. However, constant stress can harm you and your baby.

Any time someone is stressed, the body enters a fight or flight mode. This releases stress hormones. These hormones are helpful if you are in danger but can be harmful if they are constantly released. If your stress continues, these hormones can change the way your body reacts to stress and can lead to inflammation.

Effects of Stress on Pregnancy

This inflammation can lead to problems with your health during pregnancy as well as problems in your baby. Studies have shown that ongoing stress and difficulty dealing with stress can be associated with babies being born smaller and earlier than normal. In addition, chronic stress can change the development of babies brains and may lead to behavioral problems later in life. Although these connections are still being studied, it is very important for pregnant women to consider this and to learn to control their stress in pregnancy.

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Signs Of Anxiety During Pregnancy

It is normal to have some concerns for the health of the baby and to hope for a safe pregnancy. However, if concerns about pregnancy, delivery or the babys health become too severe, then seeking anxiety treatment may be appropriate. Some of the signs of anxiety during pregnancy include:

  • Obsessing about the health of the baby
  • Extreme concerns about losing the baby
  • Trying to control as much about your situation and pregnancy as possible
  • Obsessing about aspects of the birth

Importantly, some women may experience regular symptoms of anxiety like sweaty palms, racing heart or dizziness. Symptoms of anxiety during pregnancy are not always linked to the experience of being pregnant, but at high levels can still impact the health of both the mother and baby.

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Can Stress During Pregnancy Hurt My Baby

Regular, everyday stress during pregnancy, such as stressing to make a work deadline or finish the babys nursery, wont hurt your baby.

But extreme , chronic and long-term stress can, in some cases, increase the risk of:

  • Miscarriage
  • Developmental delays in the baby

Babies born too soon or too small can face more complications than full-term, normal-weight newborns.

How Common Is Anxiety In Pregnancy

How I’m staying on top of anxiety during pregnancy

Anxiety in pregnancy is very common. More than 1 in 10 pregnant women have it. Don’t feel like you are a failure because you’re not coping.

Pregnancy can be a very emotional experience and it can sometimes be difficult to know whether your feelings are manageable or a sign of something more serious. Trust yourself. You’re the best judge of whether your feelings are normal for you. If you feel anxious a lot or have panic attacks during pregnancy its important to ask for help.

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What Are Risk Factors For Anxiety During Pregnancy

Just about anyone can develop anxiety during pregnancy. That said, there are a few criteria that put you at higher risk for a severe anxiety disorder, which means that you should pay extra-close attention to how youre feeling when youre expecting, including:

  • A previous diagnosis of an anxiety disorder
  • Anxiety during a past pregnancy
  • Previous pregnancy loss or fertility struggles
  • Pregnancy with complications or bed rest
  • Age

All of these factors can contribute to a heightened risk of anxiety during pregnancy.

Avoid The Constant News Updates

Of course its important to keep up to date with the official guidelines for pregnant women during this pandemic. But constantly checking the latest updates will only feed your anxiety.

Try to concentrate on what you need to know and ignore everything else. Only read trusted sources of information and avoid social media. You could try reading about whats happening in the morning and then focus on other things for the rest of the day. Try to avoid any news exposure for at least an hour before going to bed.

If you want to avoid the news completely but are worried about missing any key updates, you could try asking your partner, friend, or family member to update you with relevant news.

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How To Calm Anxiety While Pregnant

The anticipation of motherhood is exciting, joyful, and sometimes a little bit scary. Its normal to feel apprehensive about all of the ways your world will be different once your baby arrives. Just as your body begins to adjust to the newness, another emotion or physical change appears to throw you through a loop, causing those anxiety symptoms to increase by the minute.

Youre not alone. Every new mom-to-be has been there. Even with strong emotional support, at times, it can feel that youre on your own while pregnant. Signs of anxiety during pregnancy may include:

  • Heightened irritability and mood swings
  • Muscle tension
  • Excessive worrying or sense of anxiousness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Racing thoughts

Struggling with symptoms of anxiety is an unnerving feeling. For some, the feeling never goes away fully. For others, anxious feelings come and go with bad days mixed in with the good.

Either way, you dont have to power through or handle things by yourself. There are helpful ways for you to cope and various forms of treatment you can use to alleviate it when it starts to creep up again. The most important thing is to maintain your prenatal care regimen to keep you and your baby in a good mental health state.

Make Meditation a Daily Practice

Exercise to Benefit from Endorphins

Increase Communication for Positive Connections

Stay Consistent with Your Sleep and Self-Care

Focus on the Positive to Help Quiet the Mind

Get Started on a Stress-Free Path

How Can Stress Affect Your Pregnancy

How to Manage Anxiety During Pregnancy, Naturally

Feeling stressed is common during pregnancy because pregnancy is a time of many changes. You may welcome these changes, but they can add new stresses to your life.

High levels of stress that continue for a long time may cause health problems, like high blood pressure and heart disease. During pregnancy, stress can increase the chances of having a premature baby or a low-birthweight baby increasing the risk for other health problems.

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Wondering How To Manage Stress During Your Pregnancy

Those stressful feelings can be defused with lifestyle and mind-set changes, making your well-being and your babys development a center point of your routine. Growing a child is a full-time job. Letting other things take a lower priority is not only natural and right, but it is a healthy decision within your control.

First, some things to avoid include withdrawing from people, sleeping excessively, and eating empty calories. Inactivity and self-isolation may be signs of the problem developing. Lets look at some of the ways that women are finding time and space to focus on relaxation during pregnancy.

Managing Panic Disorder And Generalized Anxiety Disorder During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of great emotional change for women, often producing increased stress and anxiety. Gonadal steroid levels have been reported with as much as a 100-fold variation in serum estrogen levels and a 1000-fold change in serum progesterone levels during pregnancy. These changes can exacerbate such emotional difficulties.

Psychological factors may also have an important role to play in the development of anxiety disorders at this time. Often the expectant mother has concerns over the health of the child, the change in lifestyle likely to occur in her own life after the birth of the child, her own ability to be a good mother, and finances. There are also instances where the pregnancy is unexpected or unwanted, which may further increase stress and anxiety. For some women, pregnancy may bring to mind painful events in their lives with their own parents.

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Ways To Manage Anxiety During Pregnancy

Every pregnancy is different, so theres no single right or wrong to handle it.

With my first two children, I wanted to announce their pregnancies as quickly as possible, in hopes that somehow it would help me cling to the reality that I was expecting again.

With my third child, it took a long time to want to announce it publicly, and I ended up waiting til the third trimester.

How you feel from one day to the next could be different, and thats okay. Its important to be in touch with how youre feeling and be open to asking for support in whatever way you need it.

This also includes giving yourself grace and understanding that pregnancy after miscarriage can feel like a roller coaster no matter what you do.

Focus on Joy

Its hard to feel happy or even joyful about pregnancy when youve had a loss before. Even if you tried for a long time to get pregnant again, or where feeling very excited about it initially, its normal to feel hit with anxiety, terror, and even panic.

Its easy to lose the joy when the weight of fear and worry set in.

You can find small ways to focus on the joy to help you cope with anxiety. This could include hanging a photo of your scan to the refrigerator, or making it the wallpaper for your smartphone.

There is always risk in joy. However, with each of my losses, Ive always felt grief and pain. I would have felt that even if I had tried to be detached from the pregnancy.

Allow Grief When It Comes

See a Therapist

Avoid Triggers

About Aimee McNew

Spend Extra Time On Self

How to have a Stress Free Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a special time in a womans life in which she is often more concerned about her physical health and wellbeing. Putting some extra time aside to take care of yourself may help relieve some of your stress and anxiety.

Self-care practices include any activities that you can do to enhance your health and overall wellness. For example, your self-care activities can include some form of exercise, practicing stress management skills, and getting enough rest.

Consult your doctor to discuss what activities are safe to participate in during pregnancy.

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Stress And Negative Affective States In Pregnancy And Infant Or Child Outcomes

Evidence for effects of maternal stress, depression, and anxiety in pregnancy on adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes for the child is substantial , through a process known as `fetal programming’ . Research utilizing animal models indicates that maternal distress negatively influences long-term learning, motor development, and behavior in offspring . Evidence suggests that this occurs via effects on development of the fetal nervous system and alterations in functioning of the maternal and fetal hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axes . Maternal mood disorders have also been shown to activate the maternal HPA axis and program the HPA axis and physiology of the fetus . In short, a mother’s stress exposure and her affective states in pregnancy may have significant consequences for her child’s subsequent development and health . This evidence has been reviewed in many articles and spans effects on attention regulation, cognitive and motor development, fearful temperament, and negative reactivity to novelty in the first year of life behavioral and emotional problems and decreased gray matter density in childhood and impulsivity, externalizing, and processing speed in adolescents . Of note, many of these findings involve the effects of prenatal pregnancy anxiety on infant, child, or adolescent outcomes. Maternal stress has also been linked to major mental disorders in offspring .

What Causes Stress During Pregnancy

Here are some common causes during pregnancy:

  • You may be dealing with the discomforts of pregnancy, like morning sickness, constipation, being tired or having a backache.
  • Your hormones are changing, which can cause your mood swings that make it harder to handle stress.
  • You may be worried about labor and birth or how to take care of your baby.
  • If you work, you may have to prepare your team for when you take maternity leave.
  • You may worry about how you eat, drink and feel and how these things affect your baby.

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What Causes Anxiety During Pregnancy

Worries during pregnancy are universal. Hormonal changes of pregnancy, prior heartbreaking miscarriages, and sleep difficulties may all contribute to anxiety for mothers-to-be. You may worry about how a baby will affect your relationships with friends or family members, the health of your future child, the delivery experience, or the financial burden of an additional family member. All of these worries are completely normal. For humans, a certain amount of anxiety is protective how else could we motivate ourselves to complete our work or run away from a bear?

Create New Coping Skills And Habits To Thrive During Pregnancy And Beyond

Managing stress during pregnancy

It can be startling to confront your reality and realize many aspects of your current lifestyle will need to change during and after pregnancy. Ask yourself:

If you need help navigating the choppy waters of change, dont hesitate to talk to a therapist. In fact, many people seek out couples therapy before they have their child to address these sensitive topics.

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Practice Relaxation Breathing Dont Forget About Your Breathing

We should mention about the regular practice of the so-called relaxation breathing . If you practice this type of breathing from time to time, you will reduce stress levels during pregnancy.

Just put your hand on the belly and breathe with your stomach feeling like your hand rises and falls with each breath. After mastering this simple tool, slightly modify it: breathe deeply and take a small pause before exhaling. After exhaling count to four before making another breath.

Such breathing is also called yoga breathing. After 5-10 minutes of such exercise you will notice that your breathing slows down, the body relaxes and your mind gets rid of anxious thoughts.

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