The anticipation of motherhood is exciting, joyful, and sometimes a little bit scary. It’s normal to feel apprehensive about all of the ways your world will be different once your baby arrives. Just as your body begins to adjust to the newness, another emotion or physical change appears to throw you through a loop, causing those anxiety symptoms to increase by the minute.
You’re not alone. Every new mom-to-be has been there. Even with strong emotional support, at times, it can feel that you’re on your own while pregnant. Signs of anxiety during pregnancy may include:
- Heightened irritability and mood swings
- Muscle tension
- Poor sleep
- Excessive worrying or sense of anxiousness
- Trouble breathing
- Racing thoughts
Struggling with symptoms of anxiety is an unnerving feeling. For some, the feeling never goes away fully. For others, anxious feelings come and go with bad days mixed in with the good.
Either way, you don’t have to power through or handle things by yourself. There are helpful ways for you to cope and various forms of treatment you can use to alleviate it when it starts to creep up again. The most important thing is to maintain your prenatal care regimen to keep you and your baby in a good mental health state.
If you’re starting to feel more anxious by the day or are struggling to stay calm, turning to medication may seem like your only solution to cope with the symptoms. However, there are natural remedies that may be the trick you’re looking for to counter anxiety in pregnancy. Learn how to calm anxiety while pregnant by trying a few of these suggested methods first to help elevate your health and well-being. They may help you to relax your mind and body and get you back to that place of excitement you initially had.
Make Meditation a Daily Practice
Meditation has been used as a form of treatment for years to help stay centered and reduce stress. What may have been earlier thought of as a practice reserved for monks or those dedicated to high spirituality is now an everyday routine for many, including pregnant women. The soothing effects of meditation can help to ease anxiety during pregnancy.
The main component of a good meditation practice is controlling the breath. This means concentrating on allowing your body to find its natural, relaxed rhythm through deep breathing. Its purpose is to bring the mind to the present moment and let chaos and troubling thoughts slip away, if only for a few moments. This is an easy way for beginners to get started in the comfort of their own homes.
Close your eyes and focus on deep inhales and exhales while allowing thoughts to flow in and out freely without concentrating on any particular one. A mantra often helps to center the mind. It can be something as simple as saying, “I invite peace into my life” over and over as you breathe, letting any pregnancy anxiety to flow out from within you.
There are several other types of meditation, which makes it customizable to what works best for you. For those who want more instruction for their pregnancy meditation practice, there are in-person group guided meditations, meditation apps, and yoga classes that incorporate meditation. Each has its own unique benefits and ways to encourage a calmer mind and body. To your surprise, such forms of meditation and deep breathing practices can help prevent the onset of panic attacks or severe symptoms from generalized anxiety disorder.
As one of the best natural remedies for anxiety during pregnancy, it helps to alleviate muscle tension and lower blood pressure, which are fundamental factors of prenatal care. When the body experiences an increased amount of stress during pregnancy, it can lead to high risk factors for a baby’s health and development. Start slowly with a meditation practice, but stay consistent. It only takes a few minutes out of your day to get going. After you begin, you may find you can’t get enough of what it has to offer. For the sake of your baby's and your own mental health, make this practice a priority to combat feeling anxious.
Exercise to Benefit from Endorphins
Physical activity allows your body to release endorphins, which work as a natural de-stresser for the body. Depending on the stage of your pregnancy, your doctor may recommend certain exercises that work better than others. If you’re normally active, you may be able to continue most activities with a few adjustments. However, if you don't have a regular exercise routine, work in short bursts of activity throughout the day.
A brisk walk, stretching, or a yoga session can all do wonders to lift your spirits and get the blood circulating. Swimming is another exercise that is gentle on the body, but a good way to get moving. Find a form of exercise that you can stick with throughout the week. The habit of exercising doesn’t come easily for everyone. Make it fun!
Join an exercise class or ask a friend to walk around the park or nearby hiking trail with you. Listen to your favorite podcast or motivating music when you’re on the treadmill or riding a bike. Do whatever motivates you. However you choose to stay active, exercise of any kind is good for your heart health and offers a positive outlet to manage stress.
Increase Communication for Positive Connections
When in doubt, talk it out. The concerns that creep into your mind while you’re preparing for the birth of your child can feel overwhelming. Talk with a trusted friend, partner, or a mom-to-be group to share your thoughts and why you are feeling anxious. It will help you feel connected to those who understand what you’re going through. Whether they are pregnant women or not, they may have tips for how they’ve coped that will help you as well.
When we don’t talk about what’s bothering us, stress and anxiety continue to build up in an unhealthy way. Share how you’re feeling and identify where the feelings of anxiety or depression are rooted. If you’re not completely comfortable talking with someone one-to-one yet, write it down and reflect on what’s on your mind. The practice of getting it out rather than holding onto anxiety in pregnancy is a healthy first step to creating peace for yourself.
Remember that anything you’re thinking, other moms have thought, too. The more you communicate, the more you’ll see that others have been where you are and are ready to lend a listening ear or a helping hand to get you through particularly anxious periods.
Stay Consistent with Your Sleep and Self-Care
Sharing your body with your growing baby can be exhausting. Yet, many moms-to-be have a difficult time sleeping. The first thing to do is to create the most comfortable space possible for sleeping. The best sleeping conditions for a pregnant woman are cool, dark spaces with limited noise.
Turning on a fan or lowering the temperature in your bedroom may immediately make a difference. If eliminating all noise isn’t possible or you don’t like the complete silence, use a white noise machine or play a soothing sound from a sleep app on your phone to help reduce any stress and anxiety before falling asleep.
Lack of sleep has a detrimental impact on your body and can increase anxiety symptoms because of how tired you feel and how hard it is to focus. The more regular sleep patterns you can maintain, the better it is for your overall health and well-being.
If you’re struggling to sleep at night, start a relaxing nighttime routine. A few hours before bed, start to wind down with self-care activities. These may involve giving yourself a mini facial, watching a favorite show, or listening to music. Whatever quiet activities work for you, start these well in advance of when you typically go to bed. By intentionally quieting your surroundings, it helps to ease your mind and body and signal that it’s time for sleep. It’s normal to feel more tired when pregnant. Give your body the rest it needs, whenever and however that may be.
Focus on the Positive to Help Quiet the Mind
Anxiety is one of those emotions that can pile up until you feel like there’s no relief available. Focus on switching out stressors with something positive as much as possible. For example, if you’re worried about not having enough time to prepare for the baby, make a list of what needs to be done and prioritize it. Start taking on each task one at a time and see how much progress you can make in a day, week, or month. It’s more than you think!
Turn your attention to being grateful for your pregnancy and what a new addition to the family will feel like. Think about how to create happy memories during your pregnancy, like starting a baby book or going on a babymoon with your partner. You can’t avoid anxiety or wish it away, but you can actively train your mind to think more positive thoughts. This type of cognitive behavioural therapy takes practice, but the more you can shift your attention to happy ideas, the less stress, anxiety, or depression you’ll start to feel.
Get Started on a Stress-Free Path
If only it were so easy to “calm down” just by saying the words, but for most people, it takes repetitive action to manage the effects of an anxiety disorder or simply symptoms of anxiety. It makes sense for you to wonder about the future and have concerns about the unknown. However, when the stress gets too severe, it can affect your pregnancy, and could potentially lead to postpartum depression. Try any of these coping techniques to bring your attention back to a place that is more peaceful for the good of your health and that of your growing baby.
As you learn how to calm anxiety while pregnant, refer back to the techniques that help you the most. It may differ from day to day. Pay attention and listen to what your body needs to feel better. Some days it may be a few quiet moments to yourself, while others may call for a meaningful chat with a friend. Turn to these natural remedies and never feel like you have to struggle alone.
Sources: https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/anxiety-coping-tips#symptoms; https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anxiety/symptoms-causes/syc-20350961