Mothers appear throughout myth and popular culture as sacred. Artists for hundreds of years have depicted them as beatific and serene; angels of creation with a babe held sweetly in their arms. You would be forgiven for thinking they are somehow above all worry or concern. Not shown are the food cravings, sleepless nights, and terror over what the future might hold.
Anxiety is a tricky beast in its own right, doubly so when combined with the rigors of pregnancy. A pregnant woman’s body undergoes dramatic changes, both physical and emotional. No matter what pop culture might teach us, it’s perfectly natural for an expecting mother to feel anxiety in addition to any excitement she might have.
Given that it’s natural to experience a heightened level of anxiety during your pregnancy, how do you keep those feelings at bay?
Take a Breather
It can be tempting to indulge your nesting instincts only to end up running yourself ragged. In your rush to get things ready for the new baby, you may be staying up late putting together baby furniture or scrolling endlessly online looking at cute outfits you’re not sure you can afford. Take some of that time and put it toward mindfulness techniques instead:
- Deep Breathing
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
For many people, anxiety is rooted in fears or worries about the future. A good way to counteract that is by grounding yourself in the present. Make it a point to indulge your senses: the way things feel on your skin, the way they taste, the way they smell.
While much of your energy might be directed toward your pregnancy, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself. Give yourself the same advice you’d give your friends. Self-care looks different for everyone, but in addition to buying that cute onesie, take some time to make yourself a decaf cup of tea, indulge in an extra-long shower, or carve out some time to curl up with a good book.
Some women manage to maintain a rigorous level of exercise throughout their pregnancy, but for others that just isn’t realistic. Even so, moderate or light exercise such as going for a walk, stretches, or doing a little yoga, are shown to be helpful in reducing anxiety. They’re also something that will help you prepare physically for labor.
Don’t set any goals or drive yourself crazy trying to stay in shape: think of this as something that you’re doing for yourself and your baby. Every little bit of exercise helps, and a relaxing walk through the neighborhood is a good opportunity to let your mind wander.
Express Your Worries
Don’t worry about trying to fit that myth of the angelic mother. Any anxiety you’re feeling is natural! In addition, one of the best ways you can manage them is by giving them a voice! If you have any close friends or family you feel safe opening up to, take advantage of those connections.
Let people know how you’re feeling. Accept their support if they offer it. Instead of trying to put together that crib on your own, invite a friend over to help out or keep you company while you do it.
Being pregnant is strange because it almost always represents a disruption to routines. You might not be able to keep up with your friends the way you used to, leaving you isolated and left out.
Consider reaching out to family & friends you might not have felt close to in the past, but who may understand what you’re going through. Be open to being vulnerable and building new connections.
If you would like help managing your anxiety throughout your pregnancy, please consider reaching out for anxiety treatment. I would love to support you on this journey by providing you a safe space to explore your anxieties and the tools you need to manage them.