Just getting a positive pregnancy test with two lines on that pregnancy test strip is certainly a thrilling experience, yet even a cause of worry since pregnancy comes with a lot of new changes which can be exciting and troublesome as well. A feeling of anxiousness can affect the pregnant lady and the fetus as well. Pregnancy however is a time to rejoice but early pregnancy anxiety is a common feature in ladies and can create many complications. So, going forward we will be discussing a few pointers regarding the same which will give us a better understanding of the causes and other things associated with it.
5 Causes Of Early Pregnancy Anxiety
It is seen that most women suffer from signs of postpartum depression post-delivery. Yet it is interesting to know that many other mood swings can affect the pregnant lady, early pregnancy anxiety being one of them. Anxiety in pregnancy is common and research states 1 in 10 women go through it. Having anxiety is normal as too many changes happen during pregnancy, and many of them are not under one’s control. Experts state that hormonal changes play a big role and can affect the brain leading to anxiety.
Anxiety during pregnancy can be caused by the factors given below:
1. Hormonal changes
A woman’s hormone levels during pregnancy may alter the chemical composition of her brain. This may lead to anxiety. Sharp fluctuations in maternal hormone levels were associated with depression; depression, in turn, is associated with anxiety1.
2. Obstruction in sleep
Anxiety is frequently connected to sleeping problems and is one of the causes of sleep deprivation during pregnancy. Excess worry and fear make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Sleep deprivation can contribute to or worsen anxiety. Short and poor-quality sleep is found to contribute to depression and anxiety2.
3. Disturbing thoughts
Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is worrying for an earlier pregnancy experience, a traumatic delivery, pregnancy loss, or early pregnancy anxiety about miscarriage. Early pregnancy anxiety is quite common among women who become pregnant after infertility treatment
4. Complications and health issues
In a high-risk pregnancy, mothers experience a great deal of anxiety. Having an underlying health issue, such as diabetes, thyroid issues, or chronic pain, can also contribute to early pregnancy anxiety. Another possibility is that it is hereditary since anxiety can be inherited
5. Out of control factors
Worrying about things that one has no control over, like the physical changes during pregnancy, early pregnancy anxiety after miscarriage, the health and weight of the baby, the effects of vaginal birth, breastfeeding, whether one is a good parent, and financial constraints
Related Reading: 12 Early Pregnancy Tips To Avoid Miscarriage
The Most Common Signs Of Early Pregnancy Anxiety
It is normal to worry about pregnancy as there is a gamut of changes that come along with it for which one might or might not be prepared and for first-time mommies, it is an entirely new process. If the early pregnancy anxiety attacks are interfering with the daily lifestyle, it is a cause of concern. The most common signs of early pregnancy anxiety are listed as under3:
- Not able to concentrate
- Excessive worry about things like baby’s health, delivery, etc
- Getting angry or increasing the level of irritation
- Unable to breathe properly
- Tension in the muscles.
- Inability to sleep
Very rarely anxiety bouts can lead to panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden and trigger physical reactions when in reality there is no real danger as such. Panic attacks can be very scary or frightening. These attacks begin with the general causes but then progress to severe ones and are more physical4.
Few symptoms that characterize panic attacks are:
- Feeling awful
- Craziness as well as clumsiness
- Rapid heart rate
- Hot Flashes
- Shaking or trembling
- Abdominal cramping
- Chest pain
- Numbness or tingling sensation in the body
- Detachment feeling
- Dizziness or fainting
Related Reading: 15 Tried And Tested Ways To Handle Emotions During Pregnancy
Can Anxiety In Early Pregnancy Cause Miscarriage?
Anxiety is the most common mental health issue faced by women during pregnancy. If anxiety is experienced in the early stages, it might result in a loss of the fetus while in the second and third trimester it results in low birth weight or increased activity of a part of the brain. Research states that anxiety can affect the mother and the fetus negatively.
A miscarriage is unlikely to occur due to normal stress, such as worrisome thoughts, work deadlines, or financial worries. But stress can have other effects on your pregnancy.
Anxiety increases the risk of gestational age, smaller head circumference, and preterm birth. Though there is no proof that anxiety does lead to miscarriage, research states that about 20% of pregnancies have ended in miscarriage.
Related Reading: 10 Common Causes Of Miscarriage
6 Tips To Cope With Early Pregnancy Anxiety And Calm Yourself
Anxiety can be very disturbing and troublesome for the pregnant lady even though it is common, so early pregnancy anxiety and depression should not be overlooked. To manage early pregnancy anxiety, it is advised to exercise, rest, destress, etc. Meditation for early pregnancy anxiety also helps. One has to be extra cautious if feeling anxious and follow the tips given below as they assist to ease early pregnancy anxiety. In case of experiencing anxiety for a few weeks, it is important to consult a doctor as it can help in having a smooth pregnancy and delivery.
Early pregnancy is often marked by anxiety. As it’s very personal, what works for your friend might not help you with your problems. Nevertheless, here are some tips to cope with early pregnancy anxiety:
1. Talk / write about it
In case feeling anxious or have early pregnancy anxiety, it is important to share it with a partner, close relatives, friend, or someone near so that they can offer support. Sharing feelings and thoughts also help or even seeks help from a therapist who is trained to offer relief techniques or specialized treatment.
It is not always comfortable for a pregnant lady to talk about her feelings and thoughts to others so it is advisable to write a diary or journal where the feelings can be let out without hesitation. Writing also helps with prioritizing feelings and worries.
2. Find a way to release the anxiety
Doing activities helps in reducing stress and anxiety. Physical activities help in releasing endorphins which act as natural painkillers in the brain. A few of these activities are:
A good way to relieve stress is by doing prenatal yoga. The train stretches will relax the body and boost the endorphin levels and help in reducing the discomfort and stiffness in the body. Apart from that, it also prepares the body for labor and delivery. Many places conduct prenatal classes, and the videos of prenatal yoga are available online as well.
It is recommended that pregnant ladies should run during pregnancy as it helps to reduce depression and anxiety. Running helps to increase the blood circulation to the brain and even to the part of the brain that gives response to stress and also elevates the mood. It however is not recommended for pregnant women with preeclampsia or diabetes. It is best to consult a doctor and then opt for this.
Walking during pregnancy comes with many benefits and it also provides aerobic conditioning with very little stress on joints. It is proven that a thirty-minute walk every day or brisk walking for three days a week can potentially lower the heart rate, reduce anxiety, and alleviate stress.
Pregnant women should indulge in aerobic activity for only 5 minutes to get the benefits of exercising during pregnancy, and the ones who do not have complications should adopt exercise in their regime for relieving stress. It is advisable though to have a doctor’s word before going ahead.
· Listening to music
Stress and anxiety can be relieved by listening to calming music. Listening to music impacts the psychobiological stress system5. Listening to music can lower cortisol levels and heart rate. Music can also help you sleep better. This also helps to reduce early pregnancy anxiety significantly.
3. Move your mind
Keeping not only your body healthy but even your mind is important. Mindfulness activities reduce worries regarding labor and even help in preventing postpartum depression. Trying activities that help the body release endorphins without actually sweating can be6:
- Massage therapy
- Deep breathing exercises
- Abdominal breathing for 20-30 minutes helps as well
4. Taking proper rest
It is important to get enough sleep and rest. Sleep keeps the mind and body relaxed thus keeping anxiety at a minimum. If proper rest is taken in the early stages, less anxiety is experienced. A calming bed routine or a pregnancy pillow also helps in offering good rest and sleep.
Related Reading: 12 Signs Of Healthy Baby In Womb- Trimester Wise
5. Embrace your power
The fear of childbirth also causes anxiety, so for relieving the same it is better to take childbirth classes, understand the different legs of labor, the role of the body, and its expectations in this process. Apart from this, the class teaches methods to deal with the pain and also permits you to chat with fellow mothers who might be facing similar situations.
6. Focus on nutrition
It is advisable to have whole foods, avoid or reduce the consumption of processed foods, keep refined sugar at minimal and add a good amount of fresh food to the palate. Eating healthy and nutritious food helps in promoting a healthy gut and has a positive effect on the brain and the body7. Foods that are rich in magnesium help in calming down a person, e.g.; Leafy vegetables like spinach during pregnancy, etc., while food rich in zinc help to lower anxiety E.g.; egg yolks, cashews, liver, beef, oysters, etc8.
Related Reading: 21 Pregnancy Superfoods To Include In Your Pregnancy Diet
Thus, pregnancy is exciting whether it is the first time or any other, all pregnancy experiences are different, not necessary that the first experience is similar to others. The presence of anxiety is thus obvious, and it is essential to manage it well. Even though some anxiety issues are just uncomfortable, there may be others that are extremely frightening. It is also advisable to deal with every anxiety maturely and make the pregnancy a smooth one.
There is no permanent and instant cure for anxiety but there are certainly ways to reduce it.
A few of them are getting proper sleep and staying fit and doing a little exercise and reducing tension and stress.
Research states that anxiety is related to the fear or an innate desire to become pregnant.
It is a fair possibility that it can affect the endocrine system which can end up with pregnancy symptoms.
Approximately half of the people who suffer from antenatal anxiety also suffer from antenatal depression. While antenatal anxiety is characterized by recurring worrying thoughts.
The symptoms of antenatal depression include feeling low, numb, and hopeless, losing confidence, feeling emotional or angry, not being able to sleep or eat properly, losing concentration, and not enjoying activities normally enjoyed.