Milksta Blog

Anxiety During Pregnancy: What You Should Know & How to Cope

Ah, the road to mommahood. It’s an amazing time in your life, but it also goes with remarkable changes that could affect your physical, emotional, and psychological make-up.

You might be shocked to find out that your pregnancy journey is not all smiles. It definitely wasn’t for me!  And for some mommas, you may feel plagued with “uh oh… what if x, y, z goes wrong?!” more often than you expected. If that’s the case, then you could be experiencing gestational anxiety (aka anxiety during pregnancy).  Read more to learn about gestational anxiety, how it affects your baby, and how you can manage it.   

Hold up... What is anxiety?

Anxiety takes your typical lousy day up a notch. It’s like being in a prolonged and constant fight-or-flight state that interferes with your daily life. Totally not cool!  Anxiety can have a range of manifestations and can lead to a panic attack. Here are some symptoms you should be cautious of.  

Symptoms of anxiety 

  • Incessant worry about your baby or your pregnancy 
  • Feeling nervous and tense
  • Compulsive negative thoughts that can be hard to control
  • Dreading daily or important activities 
  • Difficulty in concentrating 
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia during pregnancy
 

Symptoms of a panic attack

  • Increased heart rate 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Tense muscles 
  • Nausea 
  • Trembling and shaking 
  • Chest pain 
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tingling in the limbs 
  • Feeling faint 
  • Intense feelings of dread and dying 
  • Feeling detached from the environment 
  RELATED: How to Avoid Stress During Pregnancy (Ultimate Guide for Mommas)  

Is it normal to have anxiety during pregnancy?

Momma, if you feel like you’re going through this alone, I hope you find comfort in knowing that studies claim anxiety as common for pregnant women. Another study also reported that the prevalence of gestational anxiety is about 15% to 23%significantly higher than the 3% to 5% of anxiety symptoms experienced by the general population. You’re going through an intense period of change in your life. Understandably, you feel overwhelmed about it!  [bctt tweet="You’re going through an intense period of change in your life. Understandably, you feel overwhelmed about it!" username="getmilksta"] I know several friends who went through intense anxieties during their pregnancies. Hearing those challenging stories of daily intrusive thoughts made me admire the strength of every woman going through pregnancy. This bump in our bellies is serious business.  

I wanna know... What causes anxiety? 

On top of the physical, hormonal, and emotional changes that pregnant mommas like you are going through, there is also a range of causes for anxiety in pregnancy shared with the general population.    According to studies, these are some risk factors for anxiety  
  • Parental history of mental disorders 
  • Difficult experiences in childhood or adolescence 
  • Abusive experiences before pregnancy 
  • Low socioeconomic status 
  Also, mommas who experienced stressful events in previous pregnancies (such as miscarriage, difficult labor, and neonatal death) can be susceptible to anxiety and may be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.  

What are the pregnancy-specific anxieties I should be aware of?

Woman experiencing anxiety and insomnia during pregnancy   First of all, I want to recognize and emphasize that your feelings are valid. When you’re literally holding a life inside your body, there could be specific worries that may affect you.  Fretting about pregnancy complications is one thing, but dealing with the societal pressures of being a mother and having a happy pregnancy could be an additional weight to carry.    Here’s a list of unique anxieties many pregnant moms go through:  
  • Fear of having a miscarriage 
  • Fear of having complications in pregnancy and labor 
  • Fear of the baby having abnormalities
  • Feeling overwhelmed with parental responsibilities 
  • Worries about being a “good mother”specifically, concerns about having the best prenatal care, breastfeeding, postnatal stress management, bonding with the baby 
  • Needle phobia (which could increase the risk of not undergoing essential tests and treatments)
  • Worries about providing a suitable environment for the child in the face of economic and environmental challenges 
  What adds a layer to these anxieties is society’s high expectations of a woman to be “perfect” in all aspects of her life, especially in her role as a mother. Some moms would feel frazzled about having pregnancy complications, and people would assume that the cause is her not taking care of herself well enough.  Additionally, these unreasonable expectations of women further perpetuate the narrative of mommas’ need to sacrifice their well-being to meet their baby’s needs. This shouldn’t be the case!  That’s a lesson that I had to learn after having two kids: I shouldn’t put my needs on the back burner just because I turned into a momma. I can’t nurture others if I don’t nurture myself. So, remember that your health and wellness are still a priority! [bctt tweet="You can’t #nurture others if you don’t nurture myself. Your health and #wellness are still a priority!" username="getmilksta"]  

How does anxiety affect my baby? 

“Oh no! Will my baby get the short end of the stick?” This is a valid concern! And yes, if the anxiety isn’t managed or treated, it could pose some behavioral and medical effects on your little one.    According to studies, anxiety during pregnancy can impact the health of your baby in these ways:   

First trimester  

  • Could result in the loss of the fetus 

 

Second trimester & third trimester

  • Decrease in birth weight 
  • Increased risk of abnormalities, such as cleft lip and cleft palate 
  • Endocrine disorders 
  • Disruption in cognitive development
  • Irritability and restlessness in the neonatal period, which can cause babies to cry more
RELATED: Pregnancy Stages & What to Expect per Trimester  

Can I take anxiety medication while I’m pregnant?

Woman taking medications for anxiety during pregnancy   I know that the safety of taking medication while pregnant is a common concern for many mommas. Well, research says that drugs should only be prescribed when the risks of having anxiety or any mental health condition outweigh the risks linked to drug intake.  There are studies that suggest a connection between birth defects and some medications taken to treat mental health conditions (like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs). Notably, researchers also found that SSRI medications taken in early pregnancy had a link to birth defects occurring twice and thrice as frequently.  Given these findings, it’s important to have a conversation with your doctor about the safest option to treat anxiety or any other mental health conditions without posing a risk to your baby.   RELATED: Pregnancy Checklist (Complete Guide to a Healthy, Happy Preggy Journey)  

How can I cope with anxiety during pregnancy? 

Anxiety can be treated. You don’t even have to take medications in most cases, as long as you have a trusty support system.    Here are some practices you can do to triumph over anxiety while you’re pregnant:   

1. Acknowledge your feelings 

The first step to healing is making space for you to feel your truth. Again, your feelings are valid. And it’s not your fault for feeling this way, okay?  Going through anxiety doesn’t make you any less of a person, and it doesn’t (in any way!) reduce your chances of being a good momma.  [bctt tweet="Going through #anxiety doesn’t make you any less of a person, and it doesn’t (in any way!) reduce your chances of being a good momma." username="getmilksta"]  

2. Phone a friend

Whether it’s your partner, friend, or a family member that you can trust, it’s important to talk to someone about your feelings—even if these feelings seem impossible to translate into words. Let them know how they can help, and be open to receiving assistance. Having someone listen to you and give you the comfort you need will help not just you but also your baby. It also helps to be a part of a community of mommas. ‘Cause, let’s be real here: some of our worries are only fully understood by women who are or have been in the same situation.  

3. Slow down on the caffeine 

Caffeine can intensify your anxiety symptoms. Thankfully, mommas who love coffee, cola, or tea have other options that won’t exacerbate their anxiety. Try caffeine-free alternativeslike a Milksta brew!to curb your coffee cravings without the fuss and worry about adverse side effects of caffeine.                                                  Mom- and baby-safe coffee???                                      BIG YES! Plus, it’s guilt- and jitters-free!                                                           Check It Out Now  

4. Moms just wanna have fun

Having time just to feel grounded in your body and doing things you enjoy is a simple but effective way of easing your anxiety. Sit in a cozy corner of the house, read a book, watch a light-hearted movie you know you’ll love. Do things that feel good and healthy for you, anything that brings you joy and comfort. Your well-being is just as important as your baby’s. Remember that!  RELATED: 100 Gifts for Moms  

5. ‘Om’ your way out of anxiety 

Practicing meditation enables us to pause before (or after!) another busy day as a momma. It can help us relax, breathe mindfully, and be aware of our bodies. Studies show that people who meditate consistently experience significant decreases in anxiety. When we meditate regularly, we can achieve mental clarity and emotional tranquility.    Mom using meditation to calm anxiety while pregnant   Set 10 to 15 minutes of your day for meditation. You can even do it while nursing your baby or pumping your breasts! RELATED: 10 Pregnancy Meditation Prompts to Beat Anxiety and Stress    

6. Reach out to a medical professional

If your symptoms are taking over your life and impairing your ability to function, it might be time to talk to a therapist or a healthcare professional. The right person will help you navigate and manage your anxiety. You could also ask for advice on relaxation techniques you can practice depending on the intensity of your symptoms. Remember: it’s absolutely okay to ask for help!

You might be shocked to find out that your pregnancy journey is not all smiles. It definitely wasn’t for me! 

And for some mommas, you may feel plagued with “uh oh… what if x, y, z goes wrong?!” more often than you expected. If that’s the case, then you could be experiencing gestational anxiety (aka anxiety during pregnancy). 

Read more to learn about gestational anxiety, how it affects your baby, and how you can manage it. 

 

Hold up… What is anxiety?

Anxiety takes your typical lousy day up a notch. It’s like being in a prolonged and constant fight-or-flight state that interferes with your daily life. Totally not cool! 

Anxiety can have a range of manifestations and can lead to a panic attack. Here are some symptoms you should be cautious of.

 

Symptoms of anxiety 

  • Incessant worry about your baby or your pregnancy 
  • Feeling nervous and tense
  • Compulsive negative thoughts that can be hard to control
  • Dreading daily or important activities 
  • Difficulty in concentrating 
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia during pregnancy

 

Symptoms of a panic attack

  • Increased heart rate 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Tense muscles 
  • Nausea 
  • Trembling and shaking 
  • Chest pain 
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tingling in the limbs 
  • Feeling faint 
  • Intense feelings of dread and dying 
  • Feeling detached from the environment 

 

RELATED: How to Avoid Stress During Pregnancy (Ultimate Guide for Mommas)

 

Is it normal to have anxiety during pregnancy?

Momma, if you feel like you’re going through this alone, I hope you find comfort in knowing that studies claim anxiety as common for pregnant women.

Another study also reported that the prevalence of gestational anxiety is about 15% to 23%significantly higher than the 3% to 5% of anxiety symptoms experienced by the general population.

You’re going through an intense period of change in your life. Understandably, you feel overwhelmed about it! 

You’re going through an intense period of change in your life. Understandably, you feel overwhelmed about it! Click To Tweet

I know several friends who went through intense anxieties during their pregnancies. Hearing those challenging stories of daily intrusive thoughts made me admire the strength of every woman going through pregnancy. This bump in our bellies is serious business.

 

I wanna know… What causes anxiety? 

On top of the physical, hormonal, and emotional changes that pregnant mommas like you are going through, there is also a range of causes for anxiety in pregnancy shared with the general population. 

 

According to studies, these are some risk factors for anxiety

 

  • Parental history of mental disorders 
  • Difficult experiences in childhood or adolescence 
  • Abusive experiences before pregnancy 
  • Low socioeconomic status 

 

Also, mommas who experienced stressful events in previous pregnancies (such as miscarriage, difficult labor, and neonatal death) can be susceptible to anxiety and may be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

What are the pregnancy-specific anxieties I should be aware of?

Woman experiencing anxiety and insomnia during pregnancy

 

First of all, I want to recognize and emphasize that your feelings are valid. When you’re literally holding a life inside your body, there could be specific worries that may affect you. 

Fretting about pregnancy complications is one thing, but dealing with the societal pressures of being a mother and having a happy pregnancy could be an additional weight to carry. 

 

Here’s a list of unique anxieties many pregnant moms go through:

 

  • Fear of having a miscarriage 
  • Fear of having complications in pregnancy and labor 
  • Fear of the baby having abnormalities
  • Feeling overwhelmed with parental responsibilities 
  • Worries about being a “good mother”specifically, concerns about having the best prenatal care, breastfeeding, postnatal stress management, bonding with the baby 
  • Needle phobia (which could increase the risk of not undergoing essential tests and treatments)
  • Worries about providing a suitable environment for the child in the face of economic and environmental challenges 

 

What adds a layer to these anxieties is society’s high expectations of a woman to be “perfect” in all aspects of her life, especially in her role as a mother. Some moms would feel frazzled about having pregnancy complications, and people would assume that the cause is her not taking care of herself well enough. 

Additionally, these unreasonable expectations of women further perpetuate the narrative of mommas’ need to sacrifice their well-being to meet their baby’s needs. This shouldn’t be the case! 

That’s a lesson that I had to learn after having two kids: I shouldn’t put my needs on the back burner just because I turned into a momma. I can’t nurture others if I don’t nurture myself. So, remember that your health and wellness are still a priority!

You can’t #nurture others if you don’t nurture myself. Your health and #wellness are still a priority! Click To Tweet

 

How does anxiety affect my baby? 

“Oh no! Will my baby get the short end of the stick?” This is a valid concern! And yes, if the anxiety isn’t managed or treated, it could pose some behavioral and medical effects on your little one. 

 

According to studies, anxiety during pregnancy can impact the health of your baby in these ways: 

 

First trimester  

  • Could result in the loss of the fetus 

 

Second trimester & third trimester

  • Decrease in birth weight 
  • Increased risk of abnormalities, such as cleft lip and cleft palate 
  • Endocrine disorders 
  • Disruption in cognitive development
  • Irritability and restlessness in the neonatal period, which can cause babies to cry more

RELATED: Pregnancy Stages & What to Expect per Trimester

 

Can I take anxiety medication while I’m pregnant?

Woman taking medications for anxiety during pregnancy

 

I know that the safety of taking medication while pregnant is a common concern for many mommas. Well, research says that drugs should only be prescribed when the risks of having anxiety or any mental health condition outweigh the risks linked to drug intake. 

There are studies that suggest a connection between birth defects and some medications taken to treat mental health conditions (like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs). Notably, researchers also found that SSRI medications taken in early pregnancy had a link to birth defects occurring twice and thrice as frequently. 

Given these findings, it’s important to have a conversation with your doctor about the safest option to treat anxiety or any other mental health conditions without posing a risk to your baby.  

RELATED: Pregnancy Checklist (Complete Guide to a Healthy, Happy Preggy Journey)

 

How can I cope with anxiety during pregnancy? 

Anxiety can be treated. You don’t even have to take medications in most cases, as long as you have a trusty support system. 

 

Here are some practices you can do to triumph over anxiety while you’re pregnant: 

 

1. Acknowledge your feelings 

The first step to healing is making space for you to feel your truth. Again, your feelings are valid. And it’s not your fault for feeling this way, okay? 

Going through anxiety doesn’t make you any less of a person, and it doesn’t (in any way!) reduce your chances of being a good momma. 

Going through #anxiety doesn’t make you any less of a person, and it doesn’t (in any way!) reduce your chances of being a good momma. Click To Tweet

 

2. Phone a friend

Whether it’s your partner, friend, or a family member that you can trust, it’s important to talk to someone about your feelings—even if these feelings seem impossible to translate into words.

Let them know how they can help, and be open to receiving assistance. Having someone listen to you and give you the comfort you need will help not just you but also your baby.

It also helps to be a part of a community of mommas. ‘Cause, let’s be real here: some of our worries are only fully understood by women who are or have been in the same situation.

 

3. Slow down on the caffeine 

Caffeine can intensify your anxiety symptoms. Thankfully, mommas who love coffee, cola, or tea have other options that won’t exacerbate their anxiety.

Try caffeine-free alternativeslike a Milksta brew!to curb your coffee cravings without the fuss and worry about adverse side effects of caffeine.

 

                                               Mom- and baby-safe coffee??? 

                                    BIG YES! Plus, it’s guilt- and jitters-free!

                                                          Check It Out Now

 

4. Moms just wanna have fun

Having time just to feel grounded in your body and doing things you enjoy is a simple but effective way of easing your anxiety. Sit in a cozy corner of the house, read a book, watch a light-hearted movie you know you’ll love.

Do things that feel good and healthy for you, anything that brings you joy and comfort. Your well-being is just as important as your baby’s. Remember that! 

RELATED: 100 Gifts for Moms

 

5. ‘Om’ your way out of anxiety 

Practicing meditation enables us to pause before (or after!) another busy day as a momma. It can help us relax, breathe mindfully, and be aware of our bodies.

Studies show that people who meditate consistently experience significant decreases in anxiety. When we meditate regularly, we can achieve mental clarity and emotional tranquility. 

 

Mom using meditation to calm anxiety while pregnant

 

Set 10 to 15 minutes of your day for meditation. You can even do it while nursing your baby or pumping your breasts!

RELATED: 10 Pregnancy Meditation Prompts to Beat Anxiety and Stress

 

 

6. Reach out to a medical professional

If your symptoms are taking over your life and impairing your ability to function, it might be time to talk to a therapist or a healthcare professional.

The right person will help you navigate and manage your anxiety. You could also ask for advice on relaxation techniques you can practice depending on the intensity of your symptoms. Remember: it’s absolutely okay to ask for help!

You got this, momma! 

Yup, being pregnant and anxious isn’t the best combo. But the most important thing you can take comfort in is that this is not your fault. It’s normal to feel this way, given the huge change happening in your life right now.  Think of this as an additional bump (get it?) that you can overcome. Talking about it, seeking help, and taking care of yourself may smooth it out and help you achieve the peace you deserve.    _________________________________ This mom-powering piece is curated by multiple contributors: Lian Delos Reyes, founder & CEO of Milksta, and research & content specialists Nicole Saldaña and Rose Jane dela Cruz.

You got this, momma! 

Yup, being pregnant and anxious isn’t the best combo. But the most important thing you can take comfort in is that this is not your fault. It’s normal to feel this way, given the huge change happening in your life right now. 

Think of this as an additional bump (get it?) that you can overcome. Talking about it, seeking help, and taking care of yourself may smooth it out and help you achieve the peace you deserve. 

 

_________________________________

This mom-powering piece is curated by multiple contributors: Lian Delos Reyes, founder & CEO of Milksta, and research & content specialists Nicole Saldaña and Rose Jane dela Cruz.

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