Birthzang’s 5 tips to reduce anxiety in pregnancy
From the moment you get your very first positive pregnancy test, the thrill of it all can be accompanied by anxiety in pregnancy.
Sometimes just getting to the second line on the pregnancy test can be fraught with anxiety and it is all too easy to get caught up in a cycle of fear and negativity during pregnancy and worry as a result.
While there are certainly risks in each pregnancy, many of which are higher in the first trimester, it is amazing what we manage to do to enhance and increase that anxiety in pregnancy.
If you have experienced a miscarriage or loss already, your anxiety in pregnancy can skyrocket as you fear for a repeat of that awful experience.
Dr Google is a big culprit of over-diagnosing ourselves, and as health guidelines for what to eat during pregnancy, for example, can change with alarming frequency, and can often be contradictory in different countries, it is not really surprising that pregnant mums get worked up about it and suffer a lot of anxiety in pregnancy.
Here are Birthzang’s 5 tips to try to reduce anxiety in pregnancy. It is by no means exhaustive and there are further suggestions below.
1. Get Regular Exercise
Exercise helps your body to generate endorphins – the hormones associated with making you feel happy, and with pain relief. The more endorphins you make, the happier you feel, and the more you practice, the easier your body manage to produce them. Endorphins are also generated during labour and birth as the body’s natural pain relief, and so regular exercise can also help relieve some pregnancy aches and pains.
It also gets your heart pumping a little bit and encourages you to breathe deeply. Both of these things help your body to oxygenate your blood, improving the oxygen supply to your uterus and baby. So exercise goes much further in pregnancy by having a positive affect on your baby!
If you do not already exercise regularly it is a good idea to start with something low impact and gentle on the body, such as swimming or walking.
Easy to say and hard to do, but getting good relaxation is essential throughout pregnancy. It help you to unwind at the end of busy or stressful working day. It can also give you some time to start focusing on your body and your baby – this may seem to go against the idea of reduce anxiety in pregnancy about your baby and body, but in fact it can have the opposite effect. By getting in tune with yourself helps you to have confidence that you’re body and your baby are fine, and if there were any problem you will be able to listen to your instincts about it.
Relaxation can take many forms, and is not just about sticking your feet up and watching TV. Going to a class such as pregnancy yoga can give you the opportunity to both get some exercise, and also some guided relaxation that you can practice at home, and also take into the labour room.
You could try a guided relaxation track to help you chill out. Check out my track on itunes here.
Lavender Relaxation Track
Stress seems to be an unavoidable part of pregnancy and parenthood these days. Take 16 minutes to just breathe and relax with this soothing guided relaxation or meditation. Perfect for you...or your baby. Listen or buy on iTunes.
Listen to this 16-minute track and start to relax.
3. Share Your Anxiety
They say a problem shared is a problem halved, and although a classic cliché it is also quite true when it comes to anxiety in pregnancy. If you are really anxious then share your concerns: with your partner, friends, sisters, mum – in short anyone who would normally support you.
They can sympathise and perhaps help you to decide whether it is a true concern or something best not to worry about. Many mums find people who have had a baby themselves are the best place to share their concerns as you are not so unique and it is quite likely that they may have had the same concern.
4. Join a Support Group
A brilliant way to get advice and support is through a support group. You can join any number of internet support groups such as Netmums, Mumsnet or Babycentre (in the UK), but bear in mind these groups are completely public and so anyone could potentially read it.
If you prefer a more private option then Facebook has a myriad of support groups from quite general ones to very specific ones – such as Homebirth support group for your area or meet mums in your area. These groups are usually closed and so offer privacy to anyone who is not a member. Birthzang has a wonderful and supportive Facebook Group which is open to any parent, anywhere in the world.
Antenatal classes are also a good way to meet other parent-to-be in your area, as are other exercise groups (again pregnancy yoga springs to mind). These groups also offer a degree of anonymity and so you can ask all manner of aft or intimate questions and you won’t be judged.
5. Get Professional Help
This blog is intended as as a starting point for dealing with anxiety in pregnancy. It is strongly advisable to seek professional help if anxiety is unduly affecting your life. Your Midwife or GP really should be a good place to start, and they will usually be able to reassure you if the anxiety in pregnancy is regarding the health and well-being of your baby. If your anxiety is more general, or you think you may be suffering from depression, then it is really crucial to seek help as there are many resources to help you during this time.
Other ways to reduce anxiety in pregnancy
- Avoid Googling aches and pains
- Don’t compare your pregnancy to others – or even previous ones – each one is unique
- Follow your instincts
Birthzang’s Facebook Support Group for all parents anywhere in the world: www.facebook.com/groups/BirthzangParentsSupportGroup
General advice on reducing anxiety in pregnancy
In my book, Helping Birth: Your guide to pain relief choices and interventions in labour and childbirth with real stories, I go into great detail about all labour pain relief choices and common birth interventions. I use the BRAIN framework (Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Implications, Nothing) to look at each option's pro's and cons, to help you understand which choices are right for you and your baby.
I discuss what each option is, what it feels like and what happens, discuss the risks and benefits, and give advice as to what you can do to minimise complications if you choose these drugs or procedures.
There is an insight to help you understand risks and statistics around birth, and also things that may happen to you or your baby such as continuous monitoring, and immediate cord clamping.
Each of the 25 chapters has women's real-life stories and experiences to enhance your understanding of what it is really like to experience these labour pain relief choices or birth interventions.
Buy the book for £10 on Amazon (free delivery in the UK).