Whether you have the proverbial baby glow, have had little to no or constant morning sickness, felt odd cravings for certain foods or lacked an appetite, most moms have some concerns or hesitations about ushering in this new little person into their lives. These concerns may surround aspects of pregnancy, the process of childbirth or parenting the child once he or she arrives.
Is anxiety during pregnancy normal?
Anxiety during pregnancy revolves around many questions. You may have questions including the following:
- whether the baby is kicking too much or too little
- what supplements to take and how to stay healthy throughout the pregnancy
- what labor will feel like
- how to take care of your child once he or she is born
- how having a child will affect your daily life
- whether you’ll be able to lose the pregnancy weight
- how the family dynamics may change with the introduction of the new child
These concerns are all normal, and many moms and dads have them. People get anxious about the unfamiliar, so it’s to be expected that during pregnancy some anxieties will arise and perhaps be amplified due to the circumstances.
Anxiety in pregnancy is to be expected, but how prevalent is it? Some studies have shown that more than 1 in 10 pregnant women (about 15%) experience anxiety disorders at some point, around the same prevalence as depression during pregnancy. These anxieties may be fueled by experiences of previous pregnancies. The rates of generalized anxiety disorder seem to be highest in the first trimester. This is likely due to hormonal changes that take place during this period.
If your anxiety begins to take over your life, and it begins to hamper your ability to function in daily life or makes you struggle to concentrate on tasks, it is helpful to speak with your doctor, healthcare provider or counselor.
What are the causes?
The causes of anxiety in pregnancy aren’t fully known, but anxiety during pregnancy may be set off by variety of triggers including hormonal changes during pregnancy. The pregnancy itself may be a cause of significant stress, particularly if it was unplanned or it is accompanied by financial and relational strain. Underlying health issues such as thyroid problems, diabetes, or chronic pain may also be the cause of anxiety.
Apart from that, the changes that pregnancy brings not only to a woman’s body but also to her life and self-understanding can be welcome, but they can also be scary. Fear of giving birth can also rob a woman of the joy of being pregnant. Some of the risk factors for developing anxiety during pregnancy include the following:
- having a family history of anxiety or panic attacks, and a personal history of anxiety, panic attacks, or depression
- experiencing stress in daily life with which you struggle to cope
- the use of certain illegal drugs
- experience of previous trauma
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to get help from a qualified counselor as soon as possible.
What are the signs and symptoms of anxiety during pregnancy?
The most common symptoms of anxiety during pregnancy include:
- having obsessive thoughts
- constant worrying
- muscle tension
- being irritable
- feeling dread or a sense of panic
- heart palpitations
- an inability to concentrate and having trouble functioning at home or work
- having difficulty falling and staying asleep due to worrying
Any of these signs and symptoms can be effectively treated in talk therapy with a Christian counselor.
How to deal with anxiety in pregnancy
There are options available for you to deal with anxiety during pregnancy, and these include things you can do at home to relieve your stress and anxiety. But they also include finding help from a professional such as your healthcare provider or a qualified Christian counselor.
While anxiety in pregnancy is common, it’s important to remember that you are a unique individual, and what works well for you may not work for someone else, and what worked for others may not necessarily alleviate your own anxieties. If you are struggling, seek help as soon as possible, because the sooner you get help, the sooner you’ll be able to have peace of mind, and that’s good for your baby and for your own health.
Talking with a counselor or therapist can help you to pinpoint what’s at the root of your anxiety. Your counselor can help you by developing a tailored treatment plan that will help you find relief from anxieties and embrace healthier patterns of thinking.
If you need it, your doctor or mental health care provider may recommend that you take medications to deal with your anxiety. These medications are for easing the most severe symptoms of anxiety, but you’ll need to work closely with your doctor to determine which medications are right for you and pose the least risk to ensure you and your baby’s wellbeing.
Other ways to relieve anxiety in pregnancy include:
- Staying physically and mentally active. It’s wise to speak with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine during your pregnancy. Finding a release through something as simple as a short walk, doing yoga, or running can decrease your stress levels and elevate your mood. Physical activity helps your body release endorphins and reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your system.
Speak with your doctor and choose the physical activity that’ll help you stay active. You can also work to release endorphins without working up a sweat by having massage therapy or doing deep breathing exercises. These will also help reduce your levels of anxiety.
- Eating well. Good nutrition has a meaningful impact on your overall health, including helping to lessen anxiety. A balanced diet of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, fish, dairy, and whole grains can support your gut health and overall sense of wellbeing.
- Getting more and better sleep. Aim to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Start your wind-down a few hours before your bedtime, turning off electronic devices at least half an hour beforehand. Sneak in naps during the day whenever you can. If you continue struggling to fall asleep even after making some lifestyle changes, sleep aids such as Nytol, Sominex, Unisom, and Tylenol PM can be used during pregnancy but check with your doctor before you start taking any medication
- Talking about it and building your support system. Instead of bottling up your feelings of anxiety, talk with someone, whether it’s your partner, a family member, close trusted friend, or counselor. The simple act of letting someone know what you’re going through can feel like a load off. Speaking with the people in your life who may be experienced parents or who are also expecting their own child can help you feel like you’re not alone.
You can also find a healthy outlet by journaling your thoughts. After all, you may not always be up for talking with someone else. Sometimes, the process of writing down and organizing your thoughts will help you understand yourself better as well as identify triggers of anxiety. Pray for the Lord’s protection and blessing over you and your baby and record it in your journal.
- Empowering yourself with knowledge. You can find out more about the birth process by signing up for a birth class. This will help you understand the process and provide you with strategies for dealing with the pain. It will give you pointers for creating a birth plan to help you prepare for what’s ahead. These classes may also provide you with opportunities to connect with other expectant mothers.
Welcoming a new life into the world is a gift. The anxieties that come with being pregnant don’t have to be overwhelming. They can be overcome, and you can enjoy your pregnancy and the expectation of meeting your little one face to face. A Christian counselor can help you manage anxiety in pregnancy, so reach out for help today.
“Pregnant”, Courtesy of freestocks, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Announcement”, Courtesy of Sincerely Media, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Ultrasound”, Courtesy of Jonathan Sanchez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Nursery”, Courtesy of Ömürden Cengiz, Unsplash.com, CC0 License