Now we all know anxiety is a bag of s**t.. pregnancy anxiety is on another level. If you’ve suffered with it before you know what your dealing with, if it’s new to you, I feel for you. With having a miscarriage previous and anxiety for a few years on and off, I was kinda expecting to battle with it throughout pregnancy. I obviously had to come off diazepam and CBD oil while pregnant, and I was worried of what was to come, this is where breathing techniques became my new best friend. Don’t get me wrong they help no where near as much as popping a Valium or taking a few drops of canaboid oil, but they did get me through some tough days. Hormones play a huge part in anxiety. One minute you love your partner more than life itself for giving you the gift of growing this little miracle in you, next minute you could stab him because he’s told you bananas don’t go in the fridge, but you argue until your blue in the face that they do, have a mini break down and then realise you never put bananas in the fridge usually.. so god forbid maybe he was actually right.. but you would rather choke on your own vomit than ever admit that!! This was an actual scenario in our kitchen during the second trimester 😩
So on top of hormones you’ve got the anxiety.. every little pain and twinge at the start of the second trimester I had no idea what it was, I would think I was loosing another baby all over again. A tiny bit of spotting and I broke down thinking I can’t go through this again. I’d put myself on bed rest and that was mainly so I didn’t have to face anyone, interact with people, fake smiling and all along thinking I may be loosing the baby. Your constantly aiming for the next milestone. Telling yourself ‘when I get to 12 weeks I’ll be more relaxed’ 12 weeks can comes and goes. ‘when I get to 20 weeks I’ll feel more confident in my pregnancy going full term’, then you hit week 20 and pray you get to week 30 and so on!
It’s over thinking EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING! What if somethings wrong with the baby? I don’t think he’s kicking as much today? What if I’m a bad mum? What if I regret having a baby? What if we don’t bond? What if I can’t cope with labour? How will I cope having a disabled baby? What if I never have any time for anything else? How will my relationship change? What if my body never looks the same? What if my partner isn’t attracted to me no more?! It doesn’t stop! Literally everything goes through your mind.
Every time I went for a scan I was so excited to see my little bean growing, but I would get myself so worked up, unable to sleep the night before, heart pounding out of my chest, imagining the doctor telling me my little miracle wasn’t growing well or developed a heart problem, or a brain defect. Waiting for the blood test results thinking what if my perfect little baby has down syndrome, how will I cope. Then the googling started on how to parent a Down Syndrome child, knowing I will do the best for my baby no matter what. I know so many mums will read this and think ‘thank god it’s not just me’ because that’s all I wanted when I was going through it, was that I wasn’t alone and it was somewhat normal.
The reoccurring thoughts, the worry, the panic attacks, the shaking, the sweaty palms and churning stomach. THIS is anxiety.
Pregnancy is an anxious time for any woman. You start to feel like you can’t wait for your little one to be here so you can see and protect them outside of your body. Then when they are here.. it goes worse!! Baby seems warmer than normal, should I take him to A&E?! Crying more than usual, red mark on belly, is he too cold, is he still breathing.. you name it, the worry and overthinking continues! I guess this then becomes motherhood.
Knowing the difference between what’s normal worries and actual anxiety can be the hard bit in pregnancy. But if it does affect your sleep, socialising, eating, then it is a problem. I found a good way to help deal with it was writing it down in a journal/diary. To write out how your feeling kinda gives you some release. Find someone you can talk to about how your feeling, maybe other mums who have been in a similar situation or even your doctor, don’t be afraid to talk. When I was pregnant I had a few people on my social media that reached out to me offering advice and an ear to listen after posting about how I was feeling. And even talked to me about postnatal depression and to always speak to them if I felt I needed to. Having people there knowing I could talk to them is reassuring in itself.
Get out and about! Try not to sit indoors and overthink, get out, go for a walk, staying active is good for your mind and body as well as the baby. Swimming was my exercise and stress reliever, it’s by far one of the best exercises to do while pregnant, it’s easy on your body and joints and in the outdoors and sunshine it definitely helps to relax.
Treat yourself to a prenatal massage or reflexology. These were a regular part of my pregnancy journey, having them every month. Only after 12 weeks for a massage though, and make sure you find someone qualified in prenatal as it’s completely different than normal massage and reflexology. There’s certain parts and areas that need to be avoided when pregnant. I’m a big believer that both of these resulted in me having a very healthy pregnancy, with very little complaints. No swelling, muscle/joint pain, leg cramps, heartburn, haemorrhoids or round ligament pain. I felt extremely lucky!
Rest is key. If you feel tired, sleep. It’s a well known that people say get your sleep in before the baby comes, so sleep whenever you feel like it. If you can rest your mind and body, do!
Meditate or use deep breathing techniques. These will help you when you feel overly anxious or like a panic attack is on the way. They will help by releasing endorphins. Deep breathing provides more oxygen to your brain to stimulate your nervous system. It’s so simple. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for 6 seconds, keeping your shoulders relaxed. Your abdomen should expand and your chest should hardly rise. Exhale slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds, and as you blow the air out purse your lips a little, which will make a soft ‘whooshing’ sound as you exhale. Repeat it for several minutes. You will probably need to practice regular to get used to it, and it will also come in helpful for labour!
And finally remember, you’ve got this! Everything is going to be ok. Your mindset and health are so important not just for you but for your little one too. To make sure your baby is getting the best, you need to look after yourself. Take one day at a time, and use this time to focus on yourself before everything changes. Your growing a miracle in there, embrace and enjoy every moment, and don’t forget how blessed you are to be on this journey. Gratitude and a positive mindset goes a long way.