What is Antenatal Anxiety?

Antenatal anxiety involves constant excessive stress or worry during pregnancy. A lot of the time, the worry is brought about by concern over the health of your growing baby, finances, and sometimes your capability of being a good mum. The concerns are usually quite difficult to control. It usually occurs when you feel all worked up about small details such that rational thoughts have no effect. Pregnancy can be stressful because a lot of things take place both emotionally and in physical body changes. For instance, figuring out how to deal with a newborn baby can make you anxious.

Symptoms of Antenatal Anxiety

The symptoms may vary, but the most common are:

  • Increased breathing pace 
  • Chest pain
  • Frequent toilet visits
  • The urge of negative and disturbing thoughts
  • Tense muscles
  • Shakiness
  • Excess sweating 
  • Constant butterflies in the stomach
  • Feeling faint
  • Trouble sleeping 

Other symptoms include:- 

  • Panic attacks – This can make you experience an outburst of emotions and fear thus taking control of your body. 
  • Constant unrest and irritable
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – This makes you feel compelled to perform rituals or certain behaviours so as to reduce anxiety. 
  • Social phobia– Here, one worries about being humiliated or criticized in public.

The Difference Between Antenatal Anxiety and Antenatal Depression

The key differences between anxiety and depression is that anxiety is a nervous disorder while depression is a mood disorder. 

Anxiety involves the following characteristics:

  • Vulnerability
  • Doubt
  • Fear that a bad thing might happen.
  •  A person feels unexplained sensations
  • Self-protective behaviours. 

On the other hand, depression is an illness that is defined by:

  • Helplessness of feelings
  • Worthlessness
  •  Feeling on the edge
  • Does not show uncertainty or fear. 
  • A depressed person does not worry about what is going to happen but rather is certain that something will happen, and it will not be good. 
  • It can affect someone’s eating habits
  • Influences recurring thoughts of suicide.

Read more about depression here

How Can Antenatal Anxiety Be Treated

There are various ways that a person can treat antenatal anxiety. Such are:-

  •  Support counselling – This offers an opportunity either in a group or individually to talk through how someone is thinking or feeling. It can be done by listening and supporting without judgement and it can help to develop strategies and ways to deal with anxiety.  
  • Therapies – These provide tools, strategies and an understanding that helps to manage physical symptoms, behaviors and disturbing thoughts. An example of therapies includes cognitive therapy and interpersonal therapy.
  •  Medication – This is another important and effective way to curb anxiety. It can be used safely during pregnancy as severe anxiety may lead to negative growth in the baby’s development. Your health practitioner weighs the pros and cons before administering medication to avoid health complications.

Where to get help

Talk to your doctor about how you feel. Depending on the severity of your anxiety, he/ she can recommend a therapist or support groups that may help. Sometimes, knowing others sail on the same boat as you do may make you feel better. In this regard, there are online groups such as Newborn and Beyond on Facebook that you could join. Such encourages mothers to share their motherhood experiences with no judgements.



#Please note that development differs from one child to another.

#Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: babygaga, pregnancybirthbaby, cope, anxietycoach

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