Understanding Transient Anxiety during Pregnancy
Let’s start by understanding Anxiety during pregnancy. Experiencing anxiety and depression is common during pregnancy. Studies indicate that up to 1/3 of women experience anxiety symptoms while pregnant. According to Christine Schetter, PhD, and Lynlee Tanner, PhD, “anxiety, depression, and stress in pregnancy are risk factors for adverse outcomes for mothers and children. Anxiety in pregnancy is associated with shorter gestation and has adverse implications for fetal neurodevelopment and child outcomes.” Results of these studies indicate that
For some women, these symptoms may be transitional and resolve with time. Reports also indicate that in some women these symptoms can persist and transfer into post-natal anxiety and depression. A study produced by Kate Walsh, PsyD et al., also stated that “maternal prenatal stress influences offspring neurodevelopment and birth outcomes including the ratio of males to females born; however, there is limited understanding of what types of stress matter, and for whom.”
What Can Cause Transient Anxiety during pregnancy?
It helps to understand the anxiety of pregnant women’s experiences by seeing it through their eyes. A combination of factors can give rise to anxiety during pregnancy, these include:
- Hormonal and physical changes
- The normal fears mothers to experience such as having a healthy, problem-free pregnancy
- More so in the event, there are challenges facing the pregnancy, these feelings can be amplified.
A combination of these factors can have a drastic emotional impact on the mental health of pregnant women.
The Symptoms of Transient Anxiety during Pregnancy
Symptoms can include:
- Feeling tense and experiencing an uncontrollable sense of anxiousness
- Excessive worry, especially about your health or the health of your baby
- Lack of concentration
- Feeling irritated or agitated
- Experiencing tenseness in muscles
How to Manage Anxiety During Pregnancy
There are a number of ways to treat anxiety during pregnancy, these include:
- Therapy where you can discuss anxiety attack help
- Work with your medical support team to find ways to manage the problems giving rise to the anxiety
- Join a support group where pregnant women come together to offer each other support
- Join online community support groups
- Speak to a counselor
- Find activities that are safe for you to participate in that will aid in providing you a relief, for example, yoga
- Try meditation and deep breathing exercises
- Get enough rest
- Talking helps but you can also start a journal, it helps to speak or write about what you are feeling
There are also a number of self-help books that can offer you guidance, support and the necessary tools to manage your anxiety.
“Through a series of easy exercises and worksheets, you’ll learn skills for relaxing yourself when you feel stressed. You’ll also learn to reduce the frequency and intensity of anxious feelings many pregnant women and mothers of infants face. The book also includes a chapter that offers tips to help fathers understand and support their partners.” The Pregnancy and Postpartum Anxiety Workbook
In addition, Stefan Hoffman, PhD, et al., suggested that “reappraisal strategies are more effective than suppression strategies for regulating emotions. Recently, proponents of the acceptance-based behavior therapy movement have further emphasized the importance of acceptance-based emotion regulation techniques.”
Knowledge is Power
Empower yourself through knowledge and research. Take the time to speak to your medical team, ask questions and spend time researching. There are a number of Pregnancy Tool Kits available to aid in educating the mother to be. Having a baby is an experience that affects each woman differently. It is not uncommon for women to find a lot of things to be anxious about.
Educating yourself and learning the skills to cope with the changes your body goes through pregnancy as well as what to expect the first few weeks you bring baby home will empower you and help reduce the anxiety and worries.
The Risk of Untreated Pregnancy Anxiety
“There are well documented, but often overlooked, consequences of untreated depression and anxiety during pregnancy for the fetus and the mother,” Dr. Smith says.
The risk for the baby as a result of untreated anxiety during pregnancy includes:
- Early/Premature birth
- Poor or low APGAR scores
- Low birth weight
The risk for the mother includes:
- Pregnancy termination
- Postpartum depression or anxiety (baby blues)
- Lessenedchances of attachment to the baby
- Early labor