While pregnancy is an exciting time for many, it is also a time filled with fear and anxiety. New moms commonly experience anxiety during pregnancy, as many unknowns and changes are happening in their bodies and lives. If you’re anxious during pregnancy, know you’re not alone. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, up to 23% of pregnant women experience anxiety at some point during their pregnancy. Anxiety during pregnancy can manifest in different ways, such as excessive worrying, difficulty sleeping, irritability, and even panic attacks. Various factors, such as health concerns, fears about labour and delivery, and significant life changes, can trigger it. Fortunately, you can use many strategies and techniques to manage anxiety during pregnancy. Prioritising physical and mental health, staying informed about your pregnancy, and seeking support when needed can reduce stress and empower you during this transformative time.
Focus on physical health
Prioritising physical health is an important part of managing anxiety during pregnancy. When you feel good physically, that will often trickle over to feeling good mentally. Making exercise a daily habit can help reduce anxiety during pregnancy by releasing endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Exercise can reduce stress, improve sleep, and improve overall physical health. Speak to your doctor about safe exercise options during pregnancy. Low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, and prenatal yoga are generally safe for pregnant women. Eating a balanced diet is important for your physical and mental health during pregnancy. Ensure you’re getting enough protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and aim to eat various fruits and vegetables. Avoid eating processed or sugary foods, which can lead to crashes that can worsen anxiety symptoms. Instead, choose whole, nutrient-dense foods that sustain energy throughout the day.
Focus on self-care
While a certain amount of anxiety is normal during pregnancy, it’s important to manage it effectively to prevent it from becoming overwhelming. One way to do this is by focusing on self-care. Self-care involves taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s about prioritising your well-being and making time for activities that help you relax and have fun. Relaxation techniques such as journaling, meditation, or prenatal yoga can help reduce stress during pregnancy. These techniques can help calm your mind and body and promote relaxation and sleep. You can find guided relaxation exercises online or through apps like Headspace or Calm. Taking time to do things you enjoy can help reduce stress and anxiety during pregnancy. This could be reading, watching a movie, bathing, or spending time with friends. Make sure to prioritise self-care activities that bring you joy and relaxation. If you’re struggling with mental health or sobriety during pregnancy, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider. They can provide resources, such as support groups or a detox center for pregnant women, to help you manage your symptoms and stay healthy during pregnancy.
Staying informed about prenatal care and having a plan can help reduce anxiety during pregnancy. Pregnancy can be uncertain, and having a plan can provide a sense of control and ease anxiety. It’s important to stay informed about your pregnancy, health, and options for labor and delivery. Attending prenatal appointments is an important part of staying informed during pregnancy. Your healthcare provider can monitor your and your baby’s health and provide information and resources to help you stay healthy during pregnancy. They can also answer any questions or concerns you may have. Creating a postpartum plan can help you feel more prepared for the challenges after the baby is born. Consider who will provide support during the first few weeks, how you will manage household tasks and caring for the baby, and what resources are available for postpartum mental health support. Having a plan can help you feel more prepared and less anxious about the postpartum period, which can reduce anxiety during pregnancy. However, it’s important to remember that plans can change and to be flexible and open to new information and experiences.
Anxiety during pregnancy is a common experience for many women. A variety of factors can trigger it and can manifest in different ways. However, pregnant women can use many strategies and techniques to manage their anxiety and feel more empowered during this transformative time. Pregnant women can reduce their anxiety by focusing on physical health, self-care, and staying informed.
Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.