Do you have pregnancy-related anxiety? If so, you're not alone.
Pregnancy can be a time of great joy, but it can also be a time of great stress. There can be many things which cause concern during pregnancy; will the baby be healthy? Will I be able to handle labour and delivery? Will I be a good parent? These are just some of the questions that may run through your mind if you're struggling with pregnancy anxiety.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to cope with anxiety around pregnancy, and how to have a calm and stress-free pregnancy.
Anxiety and Pregnancy
Starting anything new can be scary, and pregnancy is no exception. While we’re pregnant we have a lot of time to think of all the possible things that could go wrong, and it’s these future fears which are the drivers of anxiety.
The best advice here is to try to deal with the worries one at a time, rather than feeling swamped by them all at once, because managing overwhelm is key to staying stress-free during this time.
Aside from the common things we worry about during pregnancy, if your conception journey has been less than straightforward, the stress can be greater. When we’re pregnant we are also dealing with huge changes to our bodies and lots of hormones rushing through and making changes, all of which can impact our emotional state too.
This is why it’s important to be mindful of how you're feeling and to create a support network around you of family, friends and even other new soon-to-be mums who can share the same experiences you’re going through.
Easing Anxiety About Pregnancy
1) Stay active
While it’s normal to feel nervous to exercise when pregnant, it can be the best thing for us, especially for stress levels, to clear our heads and get our hearts and lungs pumping. Research has shown that active women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and labour and I personally found a daily walk and just 15 minutes of yoga made a huge difference to my mental health during pregnancy.
2) Be mindful of the advice you follow
There’s a huge amount of information available online, which can be both a blessing and a curse. The problem is that when you start going down the Mumsnet or Google rabbit hole, you can usually find opinions that either confirm or deny all of your anxieties. That being said, they can be useful if they help you to feel less alone, just be mindful about how much time you spend researching things if it only serves to fuel your anxiety, rather than calm it. If you're worried about something, it's often best to speak with your midwife or GP, and seek answers on trusted websites like the NHS and Tommy's.
3) Embrace naps and rest
Everyone knows that when you have a baby a good night’s sleep can be a thing of the past, but that’s not the only reason to catch up on sleep when you're pregnant. Your body is creating a whole new life, a new set of lungs, a brain, liver and kidneys which requires a huge amount of energy. Not to mention, the stress and worry alongside the other physical discomforts that come along with pregnancy, which can all serve to zap us of energy and impact negatively on sleep. Invest in a good pregnancy cushion so that you can be as comfortable as possible at night and embrace naps during the day if you struggle to get a full night’s sleep.
4) Look into Hypnobirthing
If your anxiety is centred around the birth itself, hypnobirthing could be a big help. Hypnobirthing is a method of pain management that can be used during labour and birth. It involves using a mixture of visualisation, relaxation and deep breathing techniques. While it’s not scientifically proven to work for everyone, the major benefit of Hypnobirthing is how it can help manage stress hormones, such as adrenalin, and reduce anxiety, which could lead to a calmer birth.
5) Practice mindfulness or meditation
Much of our anxiety around pregnancy can be due to the uncertainty of it. We don’t know what to expect and it can feel overwhelming at times. This is why meditation and mindfulness can be so helpful in aiding to manage our thoughts. Once we’re 'at the controls' of our own mind, rather than letting it run off into worries and 'what ifs', we have a far greater sense of peace, and there is huge power in peace.
Anxiety around pregnancy is common but there are lots of things you can do to help yourself. I hope you can put some of these tips into practice, minimise your worries and enjoy your pregnancy.
Chloe Brotheridge is a hypnotherapist, coach and mentor at www.calmer-you.com and the host of The Calmer You Podcast. She specialises in helping people calm stress and anxiety and feel more confident. She's the author of two books published by Penguin, the best selling The Anxiety Solution and ‘The Confidence Solution'. Find her on Instagram @ChloeBrotheridge.