Are you a soon-to-be mom dealing with pregnancy anxiety?
I know from experience that being pregnant during a pandemic is a challenge. Hell, it’s hard in general.
When am I going to feel them kick?
Is the anatomy scan going to go well?
Will I be able to have my partner there when I deliver?
These are really uncertain times and it is very normal to feel a certain amount of unease and nervousness about the months ahead of you.
What you want to try to avoid is full blown anxiety if you can. You can’t always avoid it, and that’s okay. I’ve lived with anxiety for along time. But if you can cut your nervousness off at the pass early on, all the better!
In this post, I’m going to talk about why pregnancy anxiety is so common, and 7 ways to relieve anxiety during pregnancy. Give some of these suggestions a try, and see if they help. If things get worse, always consult your OB for more suggestions.
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Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with depression and anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.
TW/CW: mention of pregnancy loss and other complications. If this is a difficult subject for you, do not continue to read without caution.
Why pregnancy anxiety is so common
Like I mentioned, it is hard enough without all the complications this year has thrown at us. There are constantly new worries.
- Worrying about the baby’s development
- Over-analyzing every symptom you feel
- Counting down the agonizing minutes until your next doctor’s appointment
- Doing kick counts in the middle of the night
I’ve been there. I don’t always talk too much about my kids on here to protect their privacy. But I’m a mom of two amazing girls with another little gal on the way! They are 5.5, 3.5, and about 23 weeks growing respectively.
That’s why if you’re dealing with mom anxiety, you have an ally in me. I’ve felt the complexities of motherhood, and all the ways it can warp your emotional health. I’ve lost a baby before we even got the chance to meet them, and wondered why the Universe works the way it does.
Simply put, it’s hard.
What causes it to begin with?
According to VeryWell Family,
One big reason for pregnancy mood swings is your rapidly changing hormones—specifically estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen levels soar during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, increasing by more than 100 times. Estrogen is associated with the brain chemical serotonin. You may know serotonin as the “happy” hormone, one that many anti-depressant medications attempt to boost. But serotonin isn’t a straightforward connection to happiness. Imbalances and fluctuations in this neurotransmitter can cause emotional dysregulation.Why You Have Mood Swings During Pregnancy and How to Cope
Ah, those lovely hormones. Unfortunately, we need them to be able to have our pregnancy go the way it needs to, but it really wreaks havoc on your poor exhausted brain.
So that’s why it’s common to feel like your moods are all over the place when you’re pregnant. And it’s why a lot of people experience pregnancy anxiety. It’s not something they’re doing wrong necessary. As I’ve said before in other posts, it literally is all in your head!
7 ways to relieve anxiety during pregnancy
It is really important to take care of your emotional health when you’re expecting, and to make the sometimes vain attempt to not let pregnancy anxiety get the best of you. If you can stay as stress free as possible, you will feel a lot better physically and mentally.
I know, I know. Easier said than done. But like those yucky hormones, stress and anxiety take a toll on your body in an already challenging time. According to Healthline, anxiety can have the following physical effects:
- stomach pain, nausea, or digestive trouble
- insomnia or other sleep issues (waking up frequently, for example)
- weakness or fatigue
- rapid breathing or shortness of breath
- pounding heart or increased heart rate
- trembling or shaking
- muscle tension or pain
With all the effects pregnancy can have on you, the last thing you need is any of the above. Plus, I’ve heard that excessive stress can lead to premature births and low birth weight babies.
This is why it’s so important if possible to take a deep breath and find some ways to clear your head and relax.
Pregnancy anxiety tip #1
Going to start with the best tip right out of the gate. If you are dealing with pregnancy anxiety, it’s really important to talk about it. Picture this.
You’re holding a balloon and slowly blowing air into it. With every breath it expands, and gets bigger and bigger and bigger.
It seems like it has an infinite capacity, because it just keeps stretching. But the reality is, even a stretchy latex balloon only has so much give. Eventually it’s going to burst.
You are a wonderful mom and human being, but you’re not Wonder Woman. There comes a time when you have to just STOP and assess and take a moment to talk about what you’re feeling.
Pregnancy anxiety tip #2
It’s also really important to find a community of people who understand what you’re going through. Sure, these “mom groups” can be a bit intense and can come with their share of drama. But there are some really amazing ones as well. I’ve made lifelong friends that way.
You might feel totally alone in your pregnancy anxiety but statistics tell us that you definitely aren’t. The latest anxiety statistics for the United States say that 40 million adults live with it each and every day. That’s about 18% of the population.
So if you can find the courage to follow Tip #1 and speak up, you are sure to find many people who are going through something similar.
Pregnancy anxiety tip #3
Journaling is a really great tool for any sort of emotional shitstorm, whether it’s pregnancy anxiety, “normal anxiety,” depression, or just a season of burn out. It is really really helpful to write down the things that you’re feeling to help you process them better.
Lots of people are overwhelmed by journaling but it’s a very simple activity. All you need is a notebook, pen, and some emotions. And boom! Set aside 5 minutes on a daily basis and give it a try.
If you aren’t sure what to write about, try some of these ideas. You can also download them for free here.
Pregnancy anxiety tip #4
I’ve found that picking up a new hobby can be a great distraction. I’ve been learning Welsh on Duolingo, and it’s been a lot of fun. (Not an ad for Duolingo, I just love it!)
Of course, a hobby doesn’t cure your pregnancy anxiety. But I’ve found it to be a great way to give my mind a rest from negative thoughts.
A new hobby can take a lot of forms. Here’s a quick list of things that that can help keep your mind busy without costing a ton of money.
- Learning a new language
- Taking up adult coloring or watercoloring
- Creating a reading goal for the year
- Starting a blog
- Bingeing a new series on Netflix
- Virtual trivia nights with friends
Even just 20 minutes a day can help you unwind and destress. You can even rotate them for every night of the week so you don’t get bored.
Pregnancy anxiety tip #5
If the pregnancy anxiety gets bad enough, I would also ask your OB about medication that is safe to take. Yes, a lot of meds are a no no, but you do still have some options.
There is also still a lot of taboo regarding medications but remember: They have been very effective for millions of people for a long time. So consult with your OB, and do what feels right for you.
Pregnancy anxiety tip #6
I am a big believer in asking my anxiety challenging questions. After all my anxiety is just a thing. I’ve long been a reader of fantasy novels, so I know that the evil things that lurk in the shadows are very often defeated by the heroes at the end.
So, I ask it questions to corner it, and weaken its power. Think of like your sword you pulled out of a stone, or your wand you got at Ollivanders. Here are some of the questions I ask:
- Is this thing I’m worried about really possible?
- Has this thing I’m worried about ever happened to me before?
- What would I say to a friend who thought this?
It is definitely worth a try!
Pregnancy anxiety tip #7
I haven’t exactly been the best role model for this during this pregnancy, but a great way to relieve anxiety is to get some physical exercise.
No one is expecting you to go out and train for a marathon right now. So take it slow. If all you can manage is a 15 minute walk around the neighborhood twice a week, that is amazing! You can also look up pregnancy yoga videos on Youtube and try that for some anxiety relief.
If pregnancy and anxiety gets to be too much, check this out!
If you are really struggling with pregnancy anxiety, check out my brand new e-book! It’s all about anxiety, and includes 10 printable self care worksheets that can help you manage your symptoms and feel like yourself again. You can find more information by clicking the picture below.
Pregnancy anxiety is very valid- but does not have to control your life.
The final take away from all this is: Your anxiety is not something to be ashamed of. As I said, it is something millions of people experience on a daily basis. It’s one of the most common medical conditions out there.
And like most medical conditions, there is help out there. There are things you can do to feel better, and even medication you can take.
Pregnancy is a difficult time, but it can also be a joyous one. It is so special to feel all those little kicks, and watch yourself grow and change. So, speak up about your anxiety, and enjoy the ride!
Have you ever dealt with pregnancy anxiety? I would love to hear about your journey in the comments! Also, make sure to share this post if you found it helpful.