Coping With Severe Anxiety During Pregnancy (With Precaution Tips)
Finding out that you’re going to be a parent is a moment of pride and joy. At that moment, you’re the beacon of a new life; a bringer of light, if I might be so bold to say that. But, this does not mean that pregnancy comes without doubts. It’s natural to feel elated and anxious while pregnant.
I’ve heard from a few pregnant women in my life that while the whole experience feels wholesome, at the same time, it brings a sense of unease, especially if they are becoming a parent for the first time. So, if you feel joy and happiness but also fatigue, nervousness, and anxiety, then know that it’s all a part of the whole pregnancy experience.
However, if you already struggle with a generalized anxiety disorder or general anxiety, then all of these above-listed feelings can come at you, tenfold. Living with anxiety during pregnancy can add more stress to a situation where you’re already overwhelmed and going through a myriad of feelings.
Today, in this blog, I’ll help you understand how anxiety during pregnancy can affect your mood, health, and your baby. Also, keep reading to learn how you can cope with severe anxiety while pregnant and some cautionary tips that pregnant ladies need to keep in mind.
Anxiety And Pregnancy: What to Know
Fun Fact! Did you know that almost 1-3% of people live with an anxiety disorder, specifically generalized anxiety disorder? GAD is also said to be more prevalent in women than in men, meaning that when a woman gets pregnant, there’s a high chance that they’ll struggle with anxiety during their pregnancy.
The most unsurprising fact of it all is that GAD often goes unaddressed and untreated as it can be hard to tell the difference between GAD symptoms and symptoms of over-worrying. On top of that, if a woman is a worrier even before her pregnancy, then there’s a very high chance that she’ll develop GAD or anxiety during pregnancy. However, this could also be due to hormonal changes, mental health, and social struggles that come with being pregnant.
It is also said that anxiety during pregnancy may increase during the first trimester but also decrease as the pregnancy furthers. Despite it all, women living with GAD may also experience other overlapping disorders such as depression.
So, how to know if a pregnant woman is experiencing anxiety symptoms during pregnancy? Here are some common symptoms of antenatal anxiety that you should know;
Symptoms of anxiety during pregnancy
If you find yourself struggling with symptoms of anxiety while pregnant, then here are some common symptoms you need to look out for;
- You feel worried, stressed, and on edge all the time
- Your fears often take over your rational thinking
- You often experience panic attacks during pregnancy
- You have tension in your muscles when you’re doing your regular tasks
- You have trouble sleeping because your mind refuses to quiet down
Most of the time, thoughts during pregnancy revolve around the child’s health and welfare. In such a case, worrying about the child in the womb is normal, but during antenatal anxiety, the thoughts become debilitating and obsessive, instead of reassuring.
Sometimes, your anxiety may manifest physically, resulting in symptoms such as;
- Rapid heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Trembling and sweating
- Hot or cold flashes (apart from those that occur with pregnancy)
- Muscle tension
- Trouble concentrating
How Does Anxiety During Pregnancy Affect The Baby?
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that there are risks related to both – the treatment of anxiety and the effects of untreated anxiety during pregnancy. While there are more studies on understanding perinatal depression, there has been some research (even if it’s limited) on how antenatal anxiety affects the health of the mother and the baby.
Anxiety during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth, early gestational age, low birth weight, and even a smaller head circumference.
Unaddressed and untreated anxiety while pregnant can also increase the risk and complications during labor, delivery, and neurodevelopmental issues in the baby. These effects can also carry on after birth as well. Post-birth, the new mother may struggle to meet the demands of the baby and form the mother-child bond required for healthy development and recovery of the baby and the parent, respectively.
So, are there any treatments or remedies to cope with anxiety during pregnancy? Well, of course! Let’s take a look at them.
How to Treat Anxiety While Pregnant?
More often than not, the treatments for generalized anxiety disorder recommended for all are also suggested for pregnant women struggling with GAD. Some of the common treatments for anxiety in pregnancy can include;
Therapy approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most recommended approaches that can help you reframe your worrying and negative thoughts with positive ones that will make you look forward to your pregnancy rather than fear it.
2. Anxiety management techniques:
Techniques such as diaphragm breathing (modified for pregnancy), mindfulness meditation, prenatal yoga, massage, and acupuncture are all great ways to relax and soothe your anxiety during pregnancy. It is strongly advised that you speak to your OB/GYN or a specialist before engaging in these activities.
3. Get proper sleep:
Try to keep to a sleep schedule. If you’re having trouble sleeping, then consider using a pregnancy pillow. Anything that can help you sleep (other than medications) can also help you calm your pregnancy anxiety symptoms.
4. Set aside time for worrying:
Worrying is almost inevitable when it comes to GAD, so instead of steadfastly ignoring it, set aside time for worrying. This will allow you to be productive with your worries and free you from random bouts of over-worrying.
If you are struggling with severe anxiety that seems uncontrollable, then your doctor may prescribe medications such as SSRIs or other anti-anxiety medications to help you cope with the symptoms. Again, it is strongly advised that you take only prescribed medications as some medications may have side effects on your or your baby’s health.
6. Social Support:
You might have heard of the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child”, right? Well, it might take a village to raise a kid but it also takes a lot of support to carry the child full term. If you’re struggling with anxiety or living with GAD while pregnant, then it is important to seek out support from your loved ones – your partner, spouse, family, friends, or the community.
Precautions Tips to Keep in Mind!
If you’re a pregnant woman with anxiety, then there might be questions in your mind concerning medications and home remedies. Well, as I’ve mentioned before, it is strictly advised that you speak with your doctor and therapist when it comes to taking any medications or administering any home remedies to treat anxiety during pregnancy.
SSRIs might be relatively safe to take while pregnant, but there may be some side effects on the mother such as jitteriness, trouble breastfeeding, and increased irritability.
In any case, a doctor should be consulted for any concerns regarding medications or treatments during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is not always scary…
Becoming a parent can be an once-in-a-lifetime experience for many and moments of joy for others, but there’s always an undercurrent of worry, fear, and anxiety during pregnancy. There could also be worried about whether you might be able to conceive if you have pre-existing anxiety.
With the right diagnosis and treatment, you can learn to fight and cope with anxiety and conceive the life you’ve always dreamed of. Before you let your worries cloud your mind and body, talk to a doctor and speak to them about potential treatment options and remedies you can use to cope with antenatal anxiety.
If you’re still worried about anxiety during pregnancy, then it is recommended you speak to your therapist for more information on antenatal anxiety and its effects. You can also reach out to your nearest helpline number or local maternal care hospital for more.
I hope this article helped you and all new parents learn about how to cope with anxiety during pregnancy. For additional support, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a message on our social media. You can also share your thoughts and worries with us in the comments below.
Take Care and Stay Safe!