Pregnancy itself can be so stressful — the weight of impending parenthood accompanied by all the aches and pains of carrying a child is a lot to handle. Having a high-risk pregnancy adds another layer to all of that. There are so many unknowns, extra procedures, and test results to wait for. It's important to be mindful of where you are emotionally while going through all of this, as anxiety and stress can impact your health and pregnancy. So, here's some insight on how to deal with anxiety if you have a high-risk pregnancy, because there's no definitive guidebook for experiences like this.
According to Emily Silver, M.S., Certified Nurse Practitioner, and Certified Lactation Consultant, "Women who have a high-risk pregnancy, of course, always experience a level of anxiety during their pregnancy." Managing anxiety and stress during a high-risk pregnancy often is a team effort, with mom, partner, and their healthcare providers all working towards a calm and healthy pregnancy. "Getting good prenatal care can help alleviate some anxiety, as additional testing and/or ultrasounds can allow parents to 'check-in' with their babies and get an idea of how they are growing and developing," adds Silver.
Dr. Boyd Cooper, M.D., and OB-GYN for over 50 years, tells Romper, "If you have anything in your life that creates additional anxiety, try to get rid of it if possible. If you are stressed with your job, pull away from it as much as you can. If there is someone in your life that bothers you, avoid that person as much as possible. It all matters."
And, adds Cooper, rely on your health care team. "High-risk pregnancy doctors, where they are available, specialize in high-risk pregnancies and can help with these issues. These doctors are there to make sure that the babies stay healthy, and they are also often trained in anxiety-related issues." Anything in your life that brings down your stress levels, or even just distracts from possible stress, will indeed help the health of the pregnancy, notes Cooper.
"I advise all of my patients who have an increased anxiety in pregnancy to join a prenatal yoga class weekly, to focus on mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and breathing," Silver adds. These types of classes help to relieve tension through the movements and stretching, which can help make a mother feel better physically and mentally. "I also find acupuncture to be incredibly helpful for mothers who have an increase in anxiety," Silver tells Romper, "and would encourage patients to talk to their specific healthcare provider to see if this might be a good option for them as well."
As the American Pregnancy Association mentioned, a high-risk pregnancy can bring on a variety of emotions, many of which can leave you feeling less than happy about your pregnancy. A strong support system can help to ease anxiety and offer encouragement.
Women should seek out any type of support that they can during their pregnancy in addition to their scheduled doctors' visits. Pregnant mom meet-ups, support groups for mothers who have high-risk pregnancies, or a therapist are great options. It is important to have an outlet where they can release their thoughts, feelings, and questions, and this can help moms feel understood and less isolated.
High-risk pregnancies can be complicated and worry-provoking, but more often than not, result in very happy and healthy babies (and parents). Taking some time for self-care and making an effort towards minimizing stressors can go a long way in progressing towards that goal. When in doubt, a warm bath or shower, a bowl of ice cream, and a good night's sleep can bring those stress levels right down.
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