The Bumpy Road to Motherhood: Managing Pregnancy-Related Anxiety
Pregnancy can be an exciting time, but it can also be stressful and anxiety-ridden. In fact, it is estimated that 13-21% of women who are pregnant suffer from clinically significant anxiety (that is, anxiety that gets in the way of function and quality of life). About 14% will also experience anxiety and worry about childbirth (also known as tokophobia). Fortunately there is a lot that can be helpful in managing pregnancy-related anxiety:
Get help: Talking to a therapist or counselor can be very helpful in managing anxiety. You can also connect with other expectant mothers through pregnancy or parenting groups. Postpartum Support International is brimming with free online support groups!
Practice relaxation techniques: Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help reduce feelings of anxiety. I really like this guided exercise of progressive muscle relaxation (especially since deep breathing can be challenging in later pregnancy!).
Prioritize self-care: Eating a healthy diet, getting enough rest, and engaging in regular physical activity can help promote feelings of well-being during pregnancy.
Stay informed: Make sure you are getting accurate and up-to-date information about pregnancy and childbirth, but also know how to separate facts from myths and when to stop seeking information. MotherToBaby.org is a great resource for up-to-date information about use of medications in pregnancy.
Communicate with your healthcare provider: They can provide you with information and support, and help address any concerns you may have about your pregnancy. Need a provider that specializes in perinatal mental health? Feel free to refer to our clinic or look up others listed on Postpartum Support International's vetted directory.
Seek support from loved ones and partner, discussing your concerns and feelings with them can be a great way to alleviate anxiety
Embrace self-compassion: bring in some intentionality to the type of language you use for self-talk. Consider incorporating positive and action-oriented words like "I am proud of..." or "I am grateful for..." A toolkit I love that can help reshape your thoughts is this free-access Cognitive Behavioral Therapy workbook for pregnancy and postpartum anxiety.
Remember, pregnancy-related anxiety is common, can be very uncomfortable, and is treatable. It's essential to seek professional help if your anxiety is severe or interfering with your daily life. Many mental health professionals have experience working with expectant mothers and can provide you with the tools and support you need to manage your anxiety.