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Anxiety and Pregnancy

by BetterSleep
May 17 • 5 min read

Anxiety during pregnancy is to be expected, especially for first-time mothers. It’s a new experience, and you’re bound to worry about things that could go wrong or what kind of parent you might be. Taking care of your physical and mental health helps manage these worries. If your pregnancy or new parent anxiety becomes overwhelming or debilitating, seek professional mental health care.

About Pregnancy Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal human emotion. Many situations warrant it, including pregnancy and new motherhood. Several factors can increase your anxiety during pregnancy: poor sleep, hormonal changes, and complications or past miscarriages.

A little anxiety is not a problem and can, in fact, be proactive, motivating you to take care of yourself and prepare for the new baby. But anxiety can also become debilitating. You might start obsessing over the health of your baby. You could even develop physical symptoms, like an elevated heart rate and rapid breathing.

It’s essential that you take steps to manage pregnancy anxiety, both for you and your child. It will make your experience better but also protect your child. Studies have found that maternal anxiety increases the risk of mental health problems, behavioral challenges, and even physical health issues in the child.

How to Manage Anxiety

The good news is that anxiety is manageable. You can take simple steps to reduce and cope with those persistent feelings of worry:

  • Talk about your worries. Talking to someone about your feelings is an important emotional release. Talk to your partner and consider finding a support group for pregnant women. The social support you receive this way can be a powerful way to reduce anxiety.
  • Get plenty of exercise. Exercise is a major stress-buster. Get as much activity as you can, and that is safe. Talk to your doctor about what you can do and if there are any limitations given your health and any complications.
  • Practice mindfulness meditations. Meditations that help you focus your mind on the present moment reduce anxiety and worry. Make time to spend just a few minutes per day on this practice to reduce your overall stress.
  • Prioritize sleep. Lack of sleep is a significant contributor to anxiety. The less you sleep, the worse you feel. As you get more anxious, sleep becomes even more difficult. It’s essential that you break this cycle. If you have tried to get more sleep but still struggle with it, talk to your doctor about what else you can do.

When You Need More Help

Treating anxiety during pregnancy is complicated but possible. If you try lifestyle changes and coping mechanisms but still feel overwhelmed with worry, you might need more professional help. Talk to your doctor about seeing a mental health professional.

It is possible to take medications for anxiety during pregnancy but talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits. You might start with therapy, and if that doesn’t help, move on to antidepressants.

For many women, healthy coping mechanisms for anxiety are adequate enough to quell the anxiety that arises during pregnancy. Use tools like the uided meditations on BetterSleep to manage worries and also improve your sleep.

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