Pregnancy is a time of many changes; it can bring about joy and excitement as well as anxiety. Learn about what pregnancy anxiety is and how to cope with it. It doesn’t need to interfere with your pregnancy experience.
Pregnancy anxiety can focus on concerns about the health of the baby or on having a miscarriage –particularly for those who’ve suffered a miscarriage in the past. You may also be worried about your own health and how to best take care of yourself during this time.
In the later stages of pregnancy, you may worry about the labor and delivery experience as well as the recovery process. You may also worry about how your life may change after the baby is born. Many pregnant women worry about the impact of anxiety on the pregnancy.
These are all legitimate concerns! Some level of anxiety and worry is normal and expected during this time of change. However, you may want to take action to manage your anxiety if you have the following symptoms:
- Persistent anxiety and fear that cause impairments in your day-to-day functioning
- Out-of-control or constant worrying
- Excessive researching of your pregnancy symptoms on the internet
- Difficulty focusing and concentrating due to anxiety and worrying
- Feelings of restlessness and tension, and inability to relax
What Are Some Helpful Ways to Cope with Pregnancy Anxiety?
- Identify and modify unhelpful thoughts and thinking patterns: You may notice a tendency to worry about the worst-case scenario. This type of thinking pattern is called catastrophizing. Catastrophizing increases your anxiety and can prompt further worrying. Try to recognize the moment when these thoughts come up and remind yourself of the most likely and realistic outcome based on the facts that you know.
- Limit the time spent on researching information online: Having more knowledge about your pregnancy can be a positive thing. However, spending a significant amount of time researching your symptoms online can become an unhealthy habit. One problem with this type of research is that the information online is not always accurate and credible. Another is that reading about worst-case diagnoses brings on more anxiety. A third problem is that it can be hard to know if information you find online applies in your specific case. For these reasons, it is important to consult your medical providers for any concerns you may have.
- Attend prenatal classes: Prenatal classes aim to increase mothers’ practical knowledge about childbirth techniques, breastfeeding, and caring for a newborn. Having practical knowledge can increase a sense of control and alleviate anxiety. Prenatal classes also offer an environment where you get to exchange information with other expecting mothers. You may feel supported by listening to others’ experiences with their pregnancy and talking about your own. You may find that you’re in good company with pregnancy-related health concerns.
- Engage in healthy activities or hobbies: Try activities that bring relaxation and ease tension, such as taking walks, meditating, and spending time with supportive friends and family. It is important to get your doctor’s approval before starting any physical routine, of course. Keep living your life as fully as you can. Continue to engage with the world by fully participating in your relationships, work, and things you’re passionate about.
- Work with a mental health professional: It’s a good idea to connect with a mental healthcare provider if you’re struggling with pregnancy anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is highly effective in treating anxiety and can teach you strategies to manage your pregnancy anxiety.
If you feel you could benefit from professional help in coping with pregnancy anxiety, please reach out to us.