These days, pregnant women read a lot about pregnancy, childbirth, health of the child, etc. in order to prepare themselves for the new phase in their life, the phase of motherhood. Relatives and friends provide information on ‘what to do and what not to do during pregnancy’ as soon as they come to know about pregnancy. Pregnant women are confused and even more worried about their health and the health of their baby. Pregnancy can bring on anxiety attacks even in normal women. To understand how to cope with anxiety, one should be aware of the causes and symptoms of anxiety.
Causes and Symptoms of Anxiety During Pregnancy
A woman’s body undergoes several changes during pregnancy. Hormonal changes taking place in the body of a pregnant woman exhibit various symptoms. Everyday pressure at the workplace and high levels of chronic stress due to a hectic lifestyle can worsen the situation. A woman too concerned about her family, which many women, by nature are, makes it almost impossible for her to prioritize her own health over everything else. She may find it unnatural or even selfish to take extra care of herself, further increasing her anxiety.
Not sharing your worries is one of the main reasons of anxiety attacks. Women usually feel uncomfortable talking to their doctors about their worries and tensions. Single mothers, divorcees, teen-aged pregnant women and those in their fifties and women with unwanted pregnancy, find it difficult to deal with stress during pregnancy. Lack of correct information regarding the health of the baby or care to be taken during pregnancy results in excessive worrying and women tend to follow wrong advices. These days, many women find it difficult to change their lifestyle on getting pregnant, due to work pressures and the demanding jobs that they are in. Thinking of the desperate need for a ‘helping hand’ after the arrival of her baby can make the woman even more anxious.
Anxiety symptoms during pregnancy may vary from one woman to another. Soreness, muscle ache, tension, unsteadiness, insomnia, nausea, getting tired with even little activity, fatigue, increased irritability, dreadful feelings, difficulty in relaxing, inability to control anxious thoughts, lack of concentration, dizziness, sweating and a fear of miscarriage are some of the common symptoms of anxiety that are seen in pregnant women. Excessive worry about future events and crying spells are also seen in such women. Excessive anxiety can lead to chest pain, abdominal pain, headache, breathing problems, etc.
How to Cope with Anxiety During Pregnancy
Taking antianxiety medications during pregnancy is not a good idea. These medications can prove to be harmful for both the mother and the baby. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques can help reduce the need for medication. They are generally used to treat anxiety in pregnant women. The pregnant woman should first find out what triggers her anxiety. Only then, she might be able to control it.
Nutritious Food: A pregnant woman should eat really well. She should follow a healthy and balanced diet so that she can arm her body with everything it needs to protect itself from stress. B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, etc.), vitamins C, D, E, help keep the woman mentally and physically fit. Minerals, like zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium and antioxidants help boost the energy levels and lower stress. Consumption of natural foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, lean meat, fish, nuts and seeds and healthy fat is essential to prevent anxiety. Avoiding soda, caffeine, alcohol, drugs, smoking, foods with preservatives, foods fortified with hormones, etc. helps prevent anxiety. Foods rich in amino acids help fight anxiety. You may consult your doctor and may take the nutritional supplements prescribed by the doctor.
Sufficient Rest and Regular Exercise: A pregnant woman needs to get plenty of sleep. Lack of sufficient sleep and rest can result in increased stress and anxiety. Along with sufficient rest, regular exercises play an important role in maintaining the hormonal balance. During pregnancy, a woman can take a good walk every day and perform prenatal yoga exercises. Specially designed anxiety exercises can be done after consultation with a doctor and a physical trainer. Increased inactivity is not advisable.
Relaxation Techniques: Meditation, breathing exercises like Pranayamaare some of the scientifically proven anxiety reduction techniques. These tools help deal with the anxiety. The simple answer to the question ‘how to prevent anxiety’ is ‘do something that makes you happy’. Think about what is necessary and define your priorities. Minimize the stuff that makes you anxious. Keep away the iPod, laptop and turn off the television. Avoid watching frightening news, scary stories and movies. Spend your time in the garden, on the river side jogging track or in the company of your friends. Aromatherapy, massage therapy, etc. can help you feel fresh and active.
Herbal Supplements: Consult your physician about the effects and side effects of certain herbal supplements or medications. Various herbs like ginseng, valerian root, kava kava, chamomile, etc. can naturally calm down the sympathetic nervous system. They promote the function of the parasympathetic nervous system which helps the body to relax.
Remember, once your baby is born, you would be required to deal with a whole new line-up of stressors. Managing feeding and sleeping timings of your baby, taking care of the newborn, nursing the baby and maintaining your baby’s health along with yours is a whole new challenge you need to take on becoming a mother. Being overly stressed about it won’t help. Rather, you need to get rid of your anxiety and be ready to welcome your bundle of joy. You can always request your family members and friends to help you out. Reach out and enjoy when someone takes care of you and your baby.
Pregnancy may bring about a sudden change in you and your lifestyle. It’s natural to feel a little anxious about it. But, you should know how to cope with your anxiety during pregnancy, as excessive stress during this phase can prove harmful for both you and your baby. If excessive anxiety is significantly interfering with your day-to-day functioning and becoming all-consuming, it’s time to consult a doctor and find a better way to deal with it.