Anxiety Among Pregnant Women

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Story at-a-glance

  • Given that there are hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, emotions tend to go haywire and make pregnant women more vulnerable to anxiety
  • Apart from enhancing your mood and potentially lessening the risk of anxiety, getting a good workout while you’re pregnant could also improve sleep and decrease aches and pains

Being responsible for the health and well-being of an unborn child is no easy task. Because of this, soon-to-be mothers tend to worry about the following aspects of life during a pregnancy:1

Pregnancy symptoms and their meanings2

Progress of the baby’s development3

Relationship with a partner

Monetary issues

Given that there are hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, emotions may be more pronounced and make pregnant women more vulnerable to anxiety.4

Prevalence of Anxiety Disorders During Pregnancy

Anxiety disorders are actually common among pregnant women. A 2009 poll conducted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) found that around 52 percent of pregnant women experienced anxiety or depression.5 Factors that pregnant women should watch out for that may increase their risk for an anxiety disorder include:6,7

A previous diagnosis or a family history of anxiety

Experiences of anxiety during a past pregnancy

Previous pregnancy loss8

Fertility struggles

Pregnancy with complications

Stress at home or work

Financial or marital issues


Warning Signs of Anxiety Disorders in Pregnant Women

Anxiety can be considered an indicator of a pregnancy, especially during the first trimester.9 Although it’s normal to worry about certain events during this time, it can be a serious problem when a woman finds it difficult to control worrying thoughts or has a problem remaining calm. These actually are the first signs of an anxiety disorder in a pregnant woman, along with other symptoms like sleeping difficulties, panic attacks and muscle tension.10

How Anxiety Disorders Could Affect a Mother and Her Child

Consulting a psychiatrist or mental professional as soon as these first indicators of anxiety disorders appear is important, because they can have adverse effects, such as:11

Risks for the MotherRisks for the Child

Suicide

Termination of pregnancy

Postpartum anxiety or depression

Substance use (alcohol or drugs)

Impaired attachment to the baby

Failure to take good care of her physical health

Preeclampsia

Preterm labor

Higher chance of undergoing a C-section

Low birthweight

Premature birth before 37 weeks

Low APGAR score, a test performed one and five minutes12 after birth to check a newborn's health

Poor adaptation to life outside the womb, such as development of respiratory distress and jitteriness

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Your Stress Levels

Don’t forget to incorporate these stress-busting practices into your lifestyle to help reduce stress and anxiety during pregnancy:13

Getting enough sleep: Studies have shown that lack of sleep could trigger anxiety symptoms, so try to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

Eating whole and fresh food: A diet composed of fresh and organically grown fruits and vegetables, high-quality grass fed protein, and healthy fats benefits both mental and physical health. Plus, a healthy diet is also known to help boost the amount of beneficial bacteria in your gut.

Exercising: Apart from enhancing mood and potentially lessening anxiety risk,14 getting a good but safe workout while you’re pregnant may also improve sleep and lower possibility of back pains. The right type of exercise may even help you prepare for birth since it assists in strengthening muscles and building stamina.

Some of the best exercises for pregnant women include brisk walking, low-impact aerobics, yoga,15 stretching16 and even weight training.17 Make sure you consult with your OB-GYN before doing any of these exercises to know the proper form and prevent injuries.

Building a support system: Isolating yourself because you have an anxiety disorder can exacerbate symptoms. Spend time with friends or seek the advice of other people who have undergone the same experience as you. You should also consider joining support groups, whether in person or online, so you can share your experiences with people who feel the same way you do.18

Scheduling relaxing activities during the day: Making time for activities such as regular meditation, yoga,  listening to soothing music19 or a massage may help alleviate anxious feelings.20

MORE ABOUT ANXIETY

Anxiety: Introduction

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety Versus Panic Attacks

Anxiety in Children

Anxiety During Pregnancy

Panic Attacks and Anxiety

Anxiety Causes

Anxiety Types

Anxiety Symptoms

Anxiety Treatment

Anxiety Prevention

Anxiety Diet

Anxiety Support Groups

Anxiety FAQ


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Panic Attacks and Anxiety

[+]Sources and References [-]Sources and References

  • 1 Sunnybrook Hospital, March 24, 2016
  • 2 WebMD, August 3, 2016
  • 3 “Sex and Society, Volume 3,” 2010
  • 4 “Aromatherapy and Herbal Remedies for Pregnancy, Birth, and Breastfeeding,” August 18, 2015
  • 5 Anxiety and Depression Association of America, July 2015
  • 6 Parents Magazine, "Coping With Anxiety and Depression During Pregnancy"
  • 7 AnxietyBC, “Recognizing Anxiety During Pregnancy”
  • 8 Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2015; 17(1): 10.4088/PCC.14r01721. Published online 2015 Jan 29
  • 9 Mayo Clinic, April 14, 2017
  • 10 The Royal Women's Hospital, "Anxiety & Pregnancy"
  • 11 Parents, “Coping With Anxiety and Depression During Pregnancy”
  • 12 MedlinePlus, December 9, 2016
  • 13 FoxNews.com, December 22, 2013
  • 14 Depress Anxiety. 2011 Mar; 28(3): 234–242. Published online 2010 Dec 13
  • 15 Medical News Today, May 26, 2017
  • 16 Mayo Clinic, December 12, 2015
  • 17 WebMD, May 16, 2018
  • 18 FoxNews.com, December 22, 2013
  • 19 J Clin Nurs. 2008 Oct;17(19):2580-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2007.02064.x. Epub 2008 Feb 19
  • 20 Expert Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Mar; 5(2): 177–181