Feeling anxious about your pregnancy? Many moms-to-be get a case of the impending motherhood jitters, but there are ways to handle your anxiety.
From the day you find out you’re pregnant until the day you deliver, it’s normal to have moments of anxiety. It’s hard to avoid—for the duration of pregnancy—images and stories of everything that can go wrong for you and your unborn baby; it’s no wonder this negativity takes a toll on those who are expecting. While it’s true that pregnancy is a time filled with changes and challenges, you don’t have to live in fear.
“Unfortunately, fear is an emotion that is all too common among pregnant women,” says Dr. Joel M. Evans, MD, assistant clinical professor of OB-GYN at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and author of The Whole Pregnancy Handbook. But as fast as you can say conception, there’s a whole new world of things that concern women as soon as they become pregnant.
Some of the most common worries pregnant women describe include:
- Am I ready to be a mom?
- Will pregnancy change my body forever?
- Will my baby be OK?
- How will I handle labor?
- Will there be complications?
- Am I cut out to be a mother?
Although it’s perfectly normal to have such fears and anxieties, it is a good idea to clear them from your mind as early as possible. Particularly let go of worries that you have no control over, such as whether or not there will be complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
Overcoming the Fear
Obtaining peace of mind toward your pregnancy experience can be difficult for some women, but by trying some of these ideas, you’ll be well on your way to a calm and collected path toward motherhood.
Educate yourself: If you have any concerns or worries about your pregnancy, bring them up with your doctor or midwife. Ask a close friend who is a mother. Ask your mother. “Learning facts can help dispel some of the fears that are based on inaccurate information,” says Dr. Evans.
Learn to relax: Whenever you feel waves of anxiety taking over, stop for a moment and take a deep breath. Deep breathing, focusing, and self-hypnosis are all great ways to ease tension and reduce worry. And if it’s one particular moment you’re concerned about, Dr. Evans suggests doing deep belly breathing. This is great for the moments leading up to an amniocentesis, says Dr. Evans.
Seek support: If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thought of being a mother, why not go to the source? Discuss your feelings with your mother or other female members of the family, suggests Dr. Evans. Ask how they dealt with pregnancy, what their fears and concerns were, and how they overcame them. “Talking to others that have positive experiences of motherhood can be very powerful,” Dr. Evans continues. Also, seek support from your spouse or partner. Trying to “go it alone” isn’t the best idea. Lean on friends and hubby for comfort and reassurance when times are tough.
Ignore the horror stories: Sometimes, the moment you ask for advice people feel compelled to share their “unbelievable” stories about horrible things that happened to them. They may be trying to help or only trying to scare you, but the best thing to do as an expecting mom is ignore these tales. Believing every horror story you hear about all the things that can go wrong during pregnancy only adds to anxiety. Women are always exposed to what can go wrong, “but rarely the stories about births that were loving, gentle, and sacred,” reports Dr. Evans.
Develop a birth plan: Many women feel more at ease if they have a birth plan. Discuss your options in the labor and delivery room, what you’d like to bring, and be sure your spouse knows his role, say Lianne Castelino and Andrea Howick, makers of the DVD Bringing Baby Home.
Connect with your baby: It may seem silly to talk to your tummy, but it can do a world of good. “By spending time talking, reading, or singing to your baby [while in the womb] you develop a connection that enables you to feel closer,” Dr. Evans points out. “This makes your baby more real and less abstract, which helps engender a sense of trust in the process of becoming a mother.” Knowing your baby can hear you often helps moms-to-be prepare themselves for motherhood and ease worries about inadequacy.
Prepare your baby’s room: It’s fun to shop for all of those cute baby clothes, furniture, and decorations. Why not start early? Preparing your baby’s room leaves less time for you to worry and checks one more thing off of your ever-expanding to-do list. “It also helps you visually and mentally prepare for your new routines,” explain Castelino and Howick.
Take a prenatal class: Whether you want to get fit with other moms-to-be or learn Lamaze, prenatal classes give you a great forum to relieve anxiety. The instructors are knowledgeable in their fields and can answer questions you have about pregnancy and delivery. Some of the women in the class may already be mothers, and you can gain insights from them as well, suggest Castelino and Howick.
Develop a baby group: As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll find yourself making friends with women who are also expecting. Set up days to meet and chat. You can all share what you’re going through, and it’s nice to be around other women who know how you feel. Once your babies arrive, you can take them along for a fun afternoon with the gals.
Now that you have a good selection of ways to cope with anxiety, try to enjoy the incomparable and miraculous experience of expecting. Beyond all of the “what ifs” and things that could go wrong is a long list of joys your new child will bring to your life.