Living with anxiety isn't easy, but that doesn't mean many of us can't find ways to cope. From medication to therapy, using cannabis to taking daily walks, living a productive, happy, thriving life with anxiety is possible. Pregnancy can make it more challenging, though, and many people find that their anxiety takes a turn for the worse when they're growing a human inside their body. So, how do you manage pregnancy anxiety? No two pregnancies, or people, are the same, but more often than not listening to moms who have been there and done that can be extremely beneficial when learning how to treat your own anxiety during pregnancy.
I’ve had anxiety in some form or other for most of my life. I was an anxious child and developed into a much more anxious teen. In young adulthood I mainly coped through the use of alcohol which, as you can probably guess, wasn’t exactly the healthiest choice. When I got pregnant for the first time, however, I knew right away that I needed to stop drinking or vaping (which was one of my other coping mechanisms).
I struggled a lot with my anxiety during my pregnancy, but found that there were a few methods that helped ground me, especially during panic attacks. I practiced prenatal yoga regularly, for example, and realized that focusing on my breath and on my future baby helped me remember that every anxious moment eventually passes. I would also take walks when I needed to quiet down all the thoughts racing through my mind.
So with that in mind, here are a few other examples of how you can manage your own pregnancy anxiety:
“I have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which I can normally regulate on my own but seems to flare its ugly head during pregnancy. This leads to a ton of anxiety about the ‘what if’s’ that go along with pregnancy, anxiety related to mom-guilt with my other children, and just everyday stress. I am currently pregnant and doing awesome with the help of CBD oil, meditation, baths, time outs to check in with myself, and long discussions with my partner.”
“I was diagnosed with panic disorder in 2008, and my husband and I made the decision to invest in cognitive behavioral therapy — which was expensive at the time because my anxiety was so severe I was worried it and/or meds would hurt a baby. CBT ended up being the best experience and decision because not only was I panic-free during pregnancy and delivery, but it eradicated my anxiety still to this day.”
“I had weekly cognitive therapy sessions. I also did guided meditation once every couple of days. Looking back I wish I would have just taken my anti-anxiety meds!”
“I’ve been going to weekly cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety and depression since long before I got pregnant, and am privileged in that my mental illness is manageable without medications. Typically my coping mechanisms involve activism and socializing, but since I’ve been pregnant both of those feel much more difficult to do. This country is a real sh*t show right now, and I’m bringing another person into it when there’s so little I can really do to affect change. It gets to be overwhelming.
I’ve done two things to help me cope during pregnancy:
1. I actively avoid the news as much as possible because I know it will trigger anxiety. I took a short break from Facebook, and now that I’m back I scroll past news as often as I can.
2. When I start having a panic attack, I practice mindfulness. I stare straight ahead and focus on every physical sensation I have at that moment. I put one hand on my belly and take deep breaths through my nose, using my abs to force all the air back out. Every time my thoughts stray past physical sensation and breathing, I let those thoughts go and bring myself back to the present.
I also also really enjoy the H*nest Meditation app, but it’s certainly not for everyone.”
“Weekly therapy, worked with my doctor to find pregnancy safe supplements, and made walks a priority. I also found a lot of comfort in prayer and the Bible.”
“I practiced mindfulness throughout my pregnancy to help manage stress. I had mantras to repeat as often as I needed and they helped a lot! My favorite mantra was ‘I will have a happy pregnancy and a healthy baby.’"
“I was told by a doctor that it has a lot to do with my thyroid. They found medication to help out with it. Even during pregnancy they have options that are safe for you and baby.”
“Meditation is the only tool I've used and it has been a lifesaver.”
“I had severe anxiety prior to pregnancy and smoked cannabis for treatment. Couldn't continue once I was pregnant so I tried doing just meditation and that didn't work at all, so I went to my OB and got put on some prescription anxiety medication. So I do medication in addition to meditation.”
If you struggle with anxiety, depression, or feelings of self-harm, please seek professional help or call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.