Tips To Help You Manage Anxiety About Childbirth
Published on 05/07/21
Initially you were thrilled to see you got a positive result on your pregnancy test! But as time moves on and the baby grows, worry and anxiety is starting to creep up in areas you weren’t expecting. Worried something might go wrong, worried about new changes, and worried about the outcome of it all… and it’s starting to affect your life and pregnancy.
Although pregnancy is supposed to be a time of excitement, anxiety can strip you of that and replace your pregnancy with complications. Have no fear, there are ways you can cope!
Having anxiety about childbirth is entirely normal. Some women are concerned with the pain and discomfort, whether they’ll need a C-section or epidural, and others, the health of their baby. Especially if you’re a first time mom!
On a regular day, stress isn’t good for anyone. Stress finds a way to seep out of our pores one way or another. It can show up as aches and pains, insomnia, upset stomach, and low immune system responses. However, to have stress while pregnant can lead to other, more serious issues:
- Preeclampsia, a high blood pressure condition specific to pregnant women
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
It helps to know how to manage your anxieties and fears before you get to delivery. It can help your childbirth overall. A study showed that women who fear childbirth are typically in labor about 47 minutes longer than women who aren’t anxious.
Struggling through it all isn’t worth the risk of developing postpartum depression and postpartum mood and anxiety. It’s good to seek help!
Here are a few tips to help calm your nerves until then:
- Try to get quality sleep. Lack of sleep can worsen your anxiety. If you’re having problems sleeping, talk to your doctor.
- Eat nutritious foods. A healthy, balanced diet helps regulate gut bacteria, which researchers have linked to lessened anxiety.
- Stay active. Regular exercise is key to reducing anxiety and stress.
- Find Support. Other moms, friends, supportive family members and uplifting social media groups can help you ease anxiety by sharing your feelings and hearing positive stories from others.
Here are some other tips that can help you manage anxious feelings about childbirth:
Talk to your doctor – talking to your doctor and sharing your concerns with them is important. Take notes on how you’re feeling or any questions you may have. Normally in your third trimester your doctor will address all possible scenarios for delivery. This includes types of deliveries and pain management available to you depending on your pregnancy.
Learning ways to cope with your anxiety is important. Take a moment to meditate, breathe and utilize visualization exercises that may help you stay calm before and during labor. Exploring these before childbirth can help you find what techniques work best for you before you’re in labor.
Learning about the anatomy and physiology of what is going on with your pregnancy is beneficial. There likely will be less questions about what’s going on with your body and baby’s development as your pregnancy develops.
Every woman’s experience is different to them, but knowing what to possibly expect through each trimester, stage of labor, and delivery can help prepare you with what to expect. Make sure to fill your head with positive thoughts and experiences from other women. This also can help your anxiety.
Focus On Peace
During pregnancy your body goes through so many changes that can put stress on your mind and your body. Focus on finding peace in meditation or prenatal yoga. Prenatal yoga helps improve flexibility, mindfulness, and strength. It also decreases stress hormones and puts breathing exercises into practice. This can help you develop helpful breathing techniques for a more comfortable labor during childbirth. Some studies even show that prenatal yoga also helps reduce labor pains and the duration of childbirth becomes shorter.
Be Patient With Yourself
Just like any other point in your life, self-care is of the utmost importance especially during pregnancy. Make sure to take time to get fresh air, stay active, and take it easy on yourself. You will never be able to totally eliminate your stress, a little stress is normal but if your anxiety becomes part of your day-to-day, reach out to your doctor for anything you need.
What Anxiety Does To Pregnancy
Postpartum depression is a real concern for women after delivery. However, it’s not the only condition to be worried about. More than 1 in 10 pregnant women experience some level of anxiety throughout their pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a time of many changes. Most symptoms are entirely out of your control. Some women experience a decrease in their symptoms but worsened anxiety. This could be due to worry or to hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy that affect the chemicals in your brain.
Some of these changes can be entirely positive and some are just scary and uncomfortable and may cause complications or other issues.
Anxiety Symptoms During Pregnancy
Some changes and symptoms may be scary especially if this process is entirely new to you. Or maybe you experienced past complications like a miscarriage that leave you concerned during the process. Most of these worries are normal but if they start to interfere with your everyday life, you may have anxiety.
- feeling an uncontrollable sense of anxiousness
- worrying excessively about things, especially your health or baby
- inability to concentrate
- feeling irritable or agitated
- having tense muscles
- sleeping poorly
If it progresses and gets worse, some bouts of anxiety may turn into panic attacks. These can be very sudden with additional symptoms and continue to progress. During a panic attack, some symptoms may become physical experiences. This alone can make your experience that much worse.
Symptoms of a panic attack include:
- feeling like you cannot breathe
- feeling like you’re going crazy
- feeling like something awful may happen
While anyone can develop anxiety during pregnancy, there are certain risk factors that may contribute, including:
- family history of anxiety or panic attacks
- personal history of anxiety, panic attacks, or depression
- previous trauma
- use of certain illegal drugs
- excess stress in everyday life
Treatment For Anxiety
If you’re dealing with a mild case of anxiety, it normally doesn’t require any special treatment. Although mentioning any of your anxiety or concerns to your doctor is important! In severe cases, your doctor may recommend certain remedies after weighing out the benefits and risks.
Anxiety and The Baby
Although many people will tell you there’s nothing to worry about, that it isn’t good for the baby and childbirth, etc. Even though they’re normally coming from a good place, it’s much easier to say than to do. They’re not wrong and getting your anxiety under control is necessary but sometimes removing yourself from that cycle can be difficult.
High levels of anxiety during pregnancy are associated with a risk of developing conditions like preeclampsia, premature birth, and low birth weight.
How To Cope With Anxiety
Find An Outlet – find activities that help to lower your stress levels that are a good option for you while pregnant. One of the most recommended ways is moving around. Activities like exercise release endorphins like natural painkillers in your brain.
Effective activities include:
- Prenatal Yoga
Remember, do what you love. Anything that gets you moving! When pregnant, speak to your doctor about starting any new exercise routine.
If you don’t want to move your body, try to move your mind. Without working up a sweat you can:
- massage therapy
- deep breathing exercises
It’s been proven that deep breathing for 20 to 30 minutes per day can help with anxiety. This stimulates your nervous system and brings oxygen to your brain.
Discuss it – it’s important to talk about how you’re feeling. Whether it’s your doctor, partner, close friend or family. Getting support by being able to share your thoughts and feelings may be enough to help remedy your anxiety in the moment. You may also consider seeing a therapist.
Write About It – Sometimes you don’t feel like talking. That’s okay! Some people find that writing down thoughts and feelings can help organize your thoughts and worries. This can also help track what triggers anxiety.
Rest – Sleep is always important. But, enough sleep especially when pregnant is even more so. Try making it a priority to help relieve current anxiety symptoms.
Talk to your doctor – this is one of the more important coping mechanisms. If you notice your anxiety or panic attacks are becoming more frequent, talk to your doctor. Beyond a doctor is a specialized therapist in anxiety. Talk to them about your thoughts, feelings and everything that may concern you.
If you don’t feel comfortable enough to talk to your provider, you can always change your healthcare provider to someone who makes you feel more supported.
The truth is, anxiety is extremely individual. Make sure to keep all lines of communication open with a support group or your partner all while keeping your doctor in the loop. Try to manage your anxiety with stress management tools that work for you.
Getting help is the best and most effective way to gain peace of mind. If you’re looking for help in the NYC area, the doctors at Rosh Maternal and Fetal Medicine are here to help!
If You Have Concerns When It Comes To Childbirth – Call Rosh MFM in NYC!
When your labor begins and you anticipate the delivery of your baby, nothing is more reassuring than knowing you’re in the hands of skilled and compassionate doctors.
The clinical team at Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine have the expertise you can count on, with many years of experience supporting women through normal vaginal deliveries, high-risk pregnancies, and cesarean sections. If you have any questions or concerns about your delivery, please don’t hesitate to call their office in the Midtown East area of New York City.
The team at Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine are prepared to give you answers and provide top-notch medical care so that you have a healthy pregnancy. If you’d like to schedule prenatal care or have questions about labor and delivery, call their office in the Midtown East area of New York City, or schedule an appointment online.