Is it common to be anxious a lot during pregnancy?
Pregnancy brings out the worrywart in all of us. And for good reason: You’re growing a life inside of you.
It’s natural to fret about what you eat, drink, think, feel, and do. It’s also perfectly normal to worry about whether your baby is healthy, how this new person will change your life and relationships, and whether you’re truly up to the task of parenthood. But if your anxiety is becoming all-consuming and regularly interferes with your day-to-day functioning, it’s time to find a better way to deal with it.
To start, gently share your fears with your partner — even if they’re about him. Chances are he’s harboring concerns of his own. Communicating openly about your anxiety can help you both feel better. Turn to friends or family members for support, too. Other moms-to-be are another source of support, as they’re probably experiencing the same worries you are.
If you’re extremely anxious or have a specific reason to be concerned about your baby’s health, share your concerns with your caregiver. If anxiety still plagues you after you’ve aired your worries and checked in on your baby’s well-being, professional counseling can help you get to the bottom of your troubles.
I have a lot of stress in my life right now. Will it affect my baby?
While everyday pressure is a part of modern life, a high level of chronic stress can boost your odds of preterm labor or of delivering a low-birthweight baby. If you’re used to caring for others or giving 110 percent at work, making yourself a priority may seem unnatural or even selfish. But taking care of yourself is an essential part of taking care of your baby. Cutting down on stress — or learning how to manage it — makes for a healthier pregnancy.
How can I calm down?
Here are a few ways to manage your stress and reduce anxiety at work and at home:
1. Practice saying “no.” Now’s as good a time as any to get rid of the notion that you can do it all. You can’t, so learn to let your superwoman ideals go. Make slowing down a priority, and get used to the idea of asking your friends and loved ones for help.
2. Cut back on chores — and use that time to put your feet up, nap, or read a book.
3. Take advantage of sick days or vacation whenever possible. Spending a day — or even an afternoon — resting at home will help you get through a tough week.
4. Try deep-breathing exercises, yoga, or stretching.
5. Get regular exercise such as swimming or walking.
6. Do your best to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet so you have the physical and emotional energy you need.
7. Go to bed early. Your body is working overtime to nourish your growing baby and needs all the sleep it can get.
8. Limit “information overload.” Reading pregnancy books, surfing pregnancy Web sites, and listening to your friends’ pregnancy stories are fine — but don’t delve into all the scary things that might (but probably won’t) happen during your pregnancy. Focus instead on how you’re feeling and what’s happening to you now.
9. Join (or create!) a support group. If you’re coping with a difficult situation, spending time with others in the same boat can ease your burden. Many women create support networks online. Visit the BabyCenter Community to connect with other moms-to-be grappling with similar issues.
10. If you’re under unusual stress or feel like you’re at your breaking point, ask your healthcare provider to refer you to a therapist, who can better assess how strong your anxiety has become and what you may need to do to feel better. Listen openly to what she has to say. Getting help during pregnancy will protect you and your baby from unnecessary risks and reduce your chances of postpartum anxiety and depression.
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