Is anxiety taking over your pregnancy and stopping you from enjoying it? Would you like to take back control and find ways to reduce your pregnancy anxiety?
Below you’ll find 21 ways to do just that but first let’s take a look at anxiety in pregnancy in general.
Around 20-30 % of women will experience anxiety in pregnancy to some degree or another so you are definitely not alone. Worrying about a whole host of new things is par for the course.
Aside from the normal worries of pregnancy, it’s important to realize when anxiety is taking over and severely affecting your day to day life.
At that point it can be damaging to your physical health and the health of your baby.
If you’re an anxious person in general or you’ve already been diagnosed with anxiety, then the chances are that your pregnancy is going to be affected by anxiety to some degree too.
Having said that, women who are generally very laid back in regular life also find anxiety creeping in during those nine months.
Hormones. Stress. Change. Responsibility. Money Worries. Relationship Difficulties. Health concerns.
Thinking about all these things can make for a very anxious time but you can take steps to address these issues and start enjoying your pregnancy.
Symptoms of Anxiety in Pregnancy
Anxiety can come in many different guises, but some common symptoms are:
- Feeling worried in general – Sometimes you can’t even put your finger on why
- Worrying excessively – You can’t seem to find the off switch and when one thing is settled in your mind, you’ll switch to another issue instead
- Poor focus and concentration
- Feeling annoyed, irritable, and agitated for no real reason
- Feeling tense, both physically and mentally – You might have headaches and you might feel like your muscles are tense, especially in the neck and shoulders
- Disrupted sleep – Either you can’t get to sleep, you wake up a lot, or a mixture of the two
- Obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviors – OCD can get a lot worse in pregnancy
22 Ways to Reduce Anxiety in Pregnancy
Now we know why anxiety happens in pregnancy and the symptoms to look out for, what steps can you take to manage and drastically reduce anxiety from these precious nine months?
Choose a couple of ideas from the list and work on them over the next couple of weeks. It takes a while to feel the effects of changes but they will be worth the effort.
1. Talk it Through
You’re not abnormal. You may feel awful but there is nothing intrinsically wrong with you. Anxiety in pregnancy is common and nothing to feel ashamed or bad about.
Find a close friend, family member, or your partner and talk about it.
You’ll find that by speaking out, you’ll lighten the load. Having a communicative support system will also help you to work through any issues without feeling you’re alone.
2. Join a Support Group
If you don’t have someone you can speak with face to face on a regular basis try a Facebook group like the Pregged pregnancy support group.
Our Facebook group is called Pregnant Moms Due 2019-2020 and is a safe and supportive space for moms to be to share their worries, concerns and joys.
We work hard to make sure it has a kind and nonjudgmental vibe and we definitely don’t like dramas. You are very welcome to join us 🙂
3. Find a Hobby Which Releases Anxiety and Stress
Hobbies are fantastic for distracting us from issues in our lives and provide fun and enjoyment too.
By focusing on something you enjoy you’ll find the thing you were obsessing and stressing over disappears from your mind for a short time.
Reading is a great way to relax and distract yourself from your troubles.
But any hobby gives your brain and your fight or flight response a much-needed rest and allows your nervous system to relax.
4.Try Yoga or Swimming
We mentioned hobbies but these two in particular are very useful for getting some light exercise. Physical exertion is a wonderful way to release all those stress hormones floating around your body and release anxiety.
Yoga helps you concentrate on breath and become mindful of your body which are two of the most useful ways to release anxiety.
Swimming is a great way to feel at one with your body, relieve those pregnancy aches and pains and helps to release worries and concerns.
Both are fine during pregnancy too, provided you don’t push it too much.
3. Cut Out Caffeine
Caffeine should be limited in pregnancy anyway but you might find your anxiety levels reduce significantly by cutting it out altogether (mine certainly did).
It can take a few weeks to work out of your system and you may get a few headaches the first few days, but it is so worth it just to stop those panic attacks.
Replace your usual coffee, coke or other caffeinated drinks with something else that you really enjoy.
Personally I like chamomile tea which has the added bonus of soothing your nervous system making it a lovely calming pregnancy drink that will help banish anxiety.
Mediation is a very useful tool for coping with everyday life as well as anxiety. It’s a way of giving your brain and body a rest and a refresh.
There are so many different types of meditation that you’ll certainly be able to find one that you like.
Check out some Youtube videos and find a mediation you’d like to give a try. All you need is 10 minutes in a quiet space to listen and relax.
Headspace is a popular mediation app that I can highly recommend.
You’ll find that meditating regularly helps you put things into perspective and stops your brain overthinking.
5. Have a Regular Massage
Massage is a great way to relax, release pent up anxiety, and also has a whole host of other fantastic benefits for the mind and body.
By relaxing completely those worries are put totally into perspective and most of them cast away. Tell your masseur that you’re pregnant before you attempt massage though.
6. Cut Out Sugar & Refined Carbs (especially in the evenings)
Feeling anxious and stressed often makes us crave sugary foods and refined carbs like bread and pasta. but eating a lot of these kinds of foods has been linked to higher anxiety levels.
It’s all to do with our biology and what happens inside when we eat these things.
You get an instant hit of energy with sugar and refined carbs and an energy crash not long afterwards. That energy crash releases stress hormones which are also responsible for the fight or flight response.
When you’re laying in bed and your heart is racing it’s not because something scary is happening it’s because you’re body is dealing with the carb overload from the evening.
Here’s what to eat for a reduction in anxiety levels, a healthy pregnancy (and a healthy baby).
7. Focus on Breathing Exercises
If you have panic attacks breathing exercises are very useful tools to learn. This 5-5-5 exercise is very simple and very effective.
Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
Breath in through your nose for a count of five in a slow and steady manner. Pause for five seconds.
Exhale through your mouth in a slow manner for a count of five.
Repeat and see how your anxiety ebbs away.
8. Try Acupuncture
Acupuncture releases endorphins and is fantastic for relaxing the body, releasing stress, tension, and anxiety.
Let your acupuncturist know that you are pregnant so that they can make any adjustments to your treatment.
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Two supplements that can have a massive impact on anxiety levels (and mental health in general) are magnesium and vitamin D3. We have evolved to live an outdoor life and to eat plenty of green plants every day which most of us don’t do.
Therefore we do not get enough of these vital nutrients and supplementing with good quality products is sometimes necessary. You can read more about magnesium and supplementing in pregnancy here.
10. Be Kind to Yourself
Allow yourself time to do the things you enjoy, and don’t run around after everyone else. Feeling like you need to do everything whilst feeling tired and possibly nauseous is not going to help your anxiety.
Being kind to yourself is also about the things we tell ourselves in the ongoing conversation in our heads. If your mind is telling you you’re worthless or trash or useless or judging you harshly in other ways, then counter it with a a kind response.
E.g. ” I may have messed up on that occasion but that doesn’t make me a bad person. I try my best to be a good person and that’s good enough.”
Say something nice to yourself and give yourself a hug.
It really helps.
11. Keep a Journal
Aside from helping to release your anxiety by writing things down, a pregnancy journal is a great thing to look back on in a few years time too. Writing is fantastic therapy, so grab a cute notebook and get scribbling.
Sometimes just writing a list of the things going around in our heads is enough to release tension and anxiety.
10. Educate Yourself
Educating yourself about the things which are worrying you is a great way to release anxiety. This is because you’ll often learn that there really is nothing to worry about, and your concerns were unfounded.
This is especially true during pregnancy when every new ache or pain results in anxiety.
Knowledge is power!
11. Practice Positivity
Most of us think negatively most of the time even if we won’t admit it. For every negative thought you have, turn it on its head and come up with something positive to counteract it.
It can take a bit of effort to start with but once you practice it becomes second nature.
You’ll find you’ll become more positive over time and this will counteract a lot of the anxiety you’re feeling
12. Focus on Your Baby
This is one of the best ways to get through anxious times. By focusing on the one thing which is important – your baby – you can leave anxieties behind.
Go baby shopping, think of baby names, plan your gender reveal or baby shower, create your baby registry, take bump photos and plan your nursery decor.
Distract yourself with baby thoughts in any way you like because, one it’s fun, and two it’s beneficial to your little one.
13. Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is vital during pregnancy, and if you’re sleep deprived you’re certainly not going to be functioning at your best levels.
Anxiety and stress creep in when you’re exhausted, and you’ll find it harder to deal with generally.
Rest up and get plenty of sleep
14. Focus on Eating Healthy
Making sure you get the right nutrients will help enormously with your state of mind and even more so when you’re pregnant.
Your body is taking everything it needs to make a new baby from your stores of nutrients which can leave you depleted if you’re not replacing them.
So get in plenty of those healthy foods and if you’re not sure what to eat here’s an excellent list of the top healthiest foods to eat during pregnancy.
15. Prepare Early For The Birth
If it’s the thought of childbirth which is causing you anxiety, prepare early.
If you’re prepared, everything is less scary. Look into childbirth classes or if that’s not your thing, read our excellent advice on how to overcome labor and delivery fears.
Even if it’s not the birth that’s concerning you, focusing on the imminent arrival of your baby will work as a distraction technique. Preparation will help you feel in control; write lists if you need to.
16. Try Aromatherapy
There are some essential oils which you can use during pregnancy to help combat anxiety such as lavender and chamomile. If you can combine these with a massage, e.g. an aromatherapy massage, you’ll get double the effects.
Talk to your aromatherapist about which oils are safe to use during your pregnancy
20. Focus on Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the art of being in the here and now. When we’re focused on what we’re doing right now, worries and anxieties melt away simply because there’s no room for them in the mind.
The best thing about mindfulness is that it is free and it can be done anywhere, anytime.
So when you’re walking focus on feeling the muscles in your legs moving, your feet touching the floor, your knees bending, your butt muscles tightening.
When you’re cleaning totally focus on getting the dirt off and the movement of your body as you do so.
When you’re sitting on the train or bus pay attention to your breath going in and out.
When you notice your mind starting to chatter again as it does, gently refocus back to the task in hand.
Mindfulness has been shown to help reduce anxiety and when practiced regularly it will make you a much happier person.
21. Solve The Problem
If there is a particular issue which is causing you anxiety, focus on solving it, or at least managing it.
For instance, if it’s the journey from home to the hospital when you’re in labor, practice it until you know how long it takes and plan for any issues that might arise at different times of day.
If it’s about money, work out a budget and pinpoint your actual financial state.
As far as possible take control of your circumstances. Making plans to overcome your problems is more productive than fretting about them.
These twenty one fantastic and proven ways you can combat anxiety during pregnancy and look forward to a much more harmonious nine months.