How To Manage Your Anxiety During Pregnancy

If you're anxious by nature, pregnancy could serve to magnify these tendencies. Jessica Gray's been through the anxiety mill and has some great advice to help ease pregnancy anxiety.

pregnancy anxiety

Pregnancy – when you really take a moment to think about it – is downright bizarre. It is amazing to think that women grow other humans inside of their bodies. But we do. 

However, it is not easy. It is trying both physically and mentally. 

A survey conducted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America found that 52% of pregnant women report amplified anxiety or depression while carrying their baby. This is further complicated by the fact that many doctors are hesitant to prescribe anxiety drugs to pregnant women. 

Research has shown no long-term effects of exposing babies to these medications. However, there has not been a huge amount of data collected which makes clinicians reluctant to prescribe them. It necessitates a careful risk-benefit analysis.

Increased Risks

Pay close attention to how you’re feeling if: 

  • You have a former diagnosis of anxiety or anxiety during a previous pregnancy
  • You experienced a previous pregnancy loss or fertility problems
  • Your pregnancy has had complications
  • You’re put on bed rest 
  • You feel a lot of stress in any area of life

Possible Complications

Mental health is not “just in your head” and anyone who tells you so is ignorant. It has very real and far-reaching effects on a person’s quality of life and overall well-being. A longitudinal study of females with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) showed that they had a poorer quality of life.  

It can also negatively affect your baby. Untreated GAD may lead to complications such as: 

  • low birth weight
  • preterm delivery
  • high blood pressure
  • complications with neurodevelopment of the baby
  • and more

You need to see your doctor when/if your anxiety becomes a problem. How do you know when you have a real issue? You are worried much of the day and/or anxiety gets in the way of your normal everyday tasks for work or family.P

Sometimes medications are vital to safeguard your and/or your baby’s health. If so, your practitioner and a therapist can work with you to choose the medication that offers the most benefits with the least risks. They will also want to decide how low a dose you can take and still benefit. If you’ve already been on a medication for anxiety before you got pregnant, an adjustment of dose will be considered.

To put it simply, if you suffer from severe anxiety that will almost definitely harmfully influence your pregnancy and baby, then the medication’s benefits outweigh the risks. However, if your anxiety is relatively mild, you may be able to try other methods for anxiety control. 

6 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety During Pregnancy 

If your benefits vs. risks analysis brings you and your medical team to veer away from medicine, there are many other ways to work on quelling your worry and calming your mind: 

  1. Eat nutrient-dense, whole and unrefined foods. This type of diet supports healthy bacteria in the gut, and this may help diminish anxiety. Also, stay active because people who get regular exercise are 25% less likely to develop anxiety. Schedule time for self-care. 
  2. Join an online or real-life community to link with others who are managing the same emotional state. Build a support system of knowledgeable parents. 
  3. Share your goals for a happy and healthy pregnancy with the people close to you. 
  4. Cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance-based behavior therapy (ABBT) can aid you in developing new coping skills and can help you to change your relationship to your thoughts and learn how to break out of cycles of worry and anxiety.
  5. Those who experience anxiety often seek out a great deal of information in order to quell their worry, but this is not typically a great idea. Getting online and searching every symptom you have from gas pains to insomnia may lead you down a scary path of misinformation and unreliable sources. Talk to your doctor about your concerns. Stay off the medical sites. If you are worried about labor and delivery, take a childbirth class.
  6. Don’t be afraid to tell the people around you that you are not feeling well mentally. Some moms feel like not being thrilled about being pregnant will give people the impression that they are a bad mother. But that is NOT the case. Pregnancy is tough. I’ll admit it – I despised being pregnant.

This too shall pass… 

Yeah. Yeah. I know. Pregnancy can be a beautiful time. 

But not for me. For me, it was a nightmare. Both times. I happen to suffer from anxiety and was not medicated at the time. The surge of hormones made me feel like I was going absolutely nuts. The worry about whether my baby was developing properly was always there. That combined with insomnia, back pain, carpal tunnel and so on made me feel like I had been invaded by an alien life form.

I found it to be difficult to enjoy the experience because I felt that my body had been snatched. It created a sense of general nervousness for 9 whole months. However, I got through it and so will you, mama. 

Also read:

Jessica Gray
Jessica Gray lives in North Carolina with her husband and two little boys. She enjoys cooking, but she hates cleaning house. She's deeply passionate about kids and education - her experiences working with children as a teacher have been some of the most rewarding of her life. Writing has been a lifelong passion that started with notebooks, old scraps of paper, and journals. She loves to write informative and educational pieces for kids and adults.