Anxiety in Pregnancy: Causes and Management Tips

It is completely normal to worry during your pregnancy, especially in the early stages. There are so many unknowns and much to prepare, plus your emotions are likely all over the place.

However, when worrying consumes you so much that you cannot enjoy the things you love or it interferes with your daily life, you may be experiencing extreme anxiety and you should contact your healthcare professional.

Let’s explore how understanding the causes of your anxiety can help you find management strategies to cope with anxiety in pregnancy, especially in the early stages of pregnancy.

What causes anxiety in pregnancy?

Your body is going through incredible changes as it accommodates the new life growing within you. Hormonal changes greatly influence your anxiety levels and overall mood. Here are some common worries:

  • Wondering if you’ll be a good parent.
  • Agonising something will go wrong with the baby, especially if you’ve had pregnancy issues in the past.
  • Worrying they’ll inherit your pre-existing condition.
  • Fretting about finances.
  • Concerns for your job or career during pregnancy and post-birth.
  • Uncertainty over your partner’s feelings about your pregnancy.
  • Fear of birth and pain during delivery.

If your worries consume your every thought leaving you unable to live your life normally, then you may be experiencing extreme anxiety and contacting your physician may be in order.

Symptoms related to extreme anxiety

Being honest with yourself is the most important part of managing your anxiety.

Not being able to enjoy this joyful phase of your life may leave you feeling depressed and ashamed, further increasing your anxiety levels.

Here are some important extreme anxiety symptoms to look out for during early pregnancy and throughout:

  • All-consuming, excessive worrying and obsessive thoughts.
  • Muscle tension.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Inability to focus on everyday tasks.
  • Being irritable and quick to anger.
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Excessive restlessness.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Not enjoying the things you used to love.
  • Regular sense of panic or fear.

Panic Attacks – Know the Signs

Unchecked anxiety can lead to panic attacks, which can be potentially dangerous for you and bub. These are some important signs associated with panic attacks to look out for:

  • Tingly arms or legs.
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in your chest.
  • Shaking and muscle weakness.
  • Feeling suddenly hot or sweating.
  • Accelerated breathing.

Panic attacks can last from a few seconds to several minutes. If you think you’ve experienced a panic attack, don’t hesitate to contact your physician.

Factors putting you at risk of extreme anxiety in early pregnancy

Anyone can be at risk of developing anxiety at any time, especially mums-to-be. However, certain risk factors can increase your chances of developing anxiety in early pregnancy.

Here are a few:

  • Family history of anxiety or depression.
  • Use of illegal drugs.
  • Previous miscarriages.
  • Issues with becoming pregnant.
  • Excessive stress.
  • Lack of a support system.
  • Financial struggles.
  • History of trauma or physical abuse.
  • Having a pre-existing condition.
  • Being a younger or older mother.

Management tips for coping with anxiety in early pregnancy

1. Take it one day at a time

One of the biggest concerns during early pregnancy is miscarriage. Just remember, every day you are one day closer to your due date and your baby is one day stronger. Try not to focus too far ahead and instead just focus on each day.

2. Positive affirmations

Telling yourself everything is fine, and everything will be okay, can help manifest good energy and ease anxiety in pregnancy.

3. Get some rest

Getting enough sleep is not very easy when you’re pregnant, especially if you’re suffering from morning sickness, which can happen at any time of day, by the way.

However, not sleeping enough can increase your anxiety. So do your best to go to bed at the same time each night and get at least 7-9 hours of sleep.

If you find you can’t sleep at night or wake up often, try to fit in some naps during the day. Even resting and closing your eyes can help. Listen to your body!

4. Get moving

Any type of physical activity can help lower your stress and anxiety levels. You don’t have to overexert yourself. Just a few minutes of activity suited for your fitness level can help get those endorphins going.

5. Lean on your support system

Surrounding yourself with a positive support system can go a long way in helping you cope with the stresses of pregnancy.

Whether it is your friends, family, partner, a church group, or an online community, feeling connected to others can help lower your anxiety.

6. Take a birthing class

Fear of childbirth is actually a thing! Officially called tokophobia, the fear of childbirth can send your anxiety levels soaring.

To curb your anxiety, join a class where you can learn about childbirth and pain management techniques. Meeting other mums with similar concerns can also be helpful.

7. Journal

Don’t feel like expressing your fears and worries out loud? Journaling can be an excellent outlet for the things that are bothering you.

Those thoughts and feelings need to go somewhere. Why not express them in a place where you can be free of judgment?

8. Speak to a professional

Speaking to a healthcare professional or a therapist sooner rather than later can do wonders for your mental health.

There is no shame in asking for help. Some therapists even specialise in helping pregnant women.

Feeling worried, nervous, and scared is normal when you’re pregnant, especially in the early stages. There are so many unknowns, that it can be downright overwhelming.

Anxiety in early pregnancy is not uncommon. However, knowing the causes and factors that can put you at risk can help you figure out coping strategies to prevent your anxiety from escalating.


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Gloria Ruby Ramirez is a writer, mother, and lover of coffee, twinkle lights, and rain who believes in the magical power of words. She is passionate about parenting, mental health, and the environment. She is a former agricultural microbiologist/plant pathologist with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from Arizona State University. Born in the desert of northern Mexico, she is mum to her beautifully energetic son and Shih Tzu, Gerty. When not writing, Gloria can be found spending time with her son and family, reading, or embroidering.

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