Pregnancy brings about the mixed feeling in the parents-to-be, especially for first time parents. The various physical, emotional and hormonal changes taking place in the mom-to-be is bound to trigger anxiety and fear about the baby and her own body during the pregnancy. The great responsibility of doing right things for the tiny life growing inside her womb, which is totally dependable on her can, overwhelm the mother at times.
Though having a baby is very appealing initially, the fear whether they can be good parents to the child affects the parents when the reality is close at hands. Normally all these would lead to higher level of anxiety during pregnancy, but when the anxiety and fear goes beyond the threshold level and starts interfering with normal functioning of the woman, then it is time for medical advice.
What causes anxiety?
The mood swings can drive the pregnant woman crazy as she is at the mercy of the hormones which play with her emotions. Apart from hormones, other reasons that could lead to anxiety during pregnancy are:
- Worrying about physical changes and losing the good shape the woman had maintained so far
- Thoughts about parenting and wondering whether she can do the right thing for the baby
- Concerns regarding management of finances, especially if the working woman is planning on quitting her job after childbirth
- Thoughts of not being appealing to the partner sexually after childbirth
- Fears regarding labor and childbirth itself which is often increased when the mom to be reads or hears about some rare mishaps taking place during the event
The easy way to take care of the anxiety would be handle the pregnancy one day at a time and take things in her stride as and when they happen.
What to do when anxiety strikes?
The first step would be to talk to the partner who shares equal responsibility and anxieties of the would be mother. Discussing the fears and anxiety may put both the partners at ease. Friends who have had their babies and family members can be great support too.
When anxiety persists or there is specific reason that is causing anxiety, then it is time to consult the medical caregiver for further guidance. Considering the anxiety levels, the doctor may suggest professional counseling for the pregnant woman, as medications are known to cause side-effects and should be avoided during pregnancy.
Mild exercises, yoga or meditation can help in management of anxiety to certain levels. Stop collecting information about pregnancy and reading about what could go wrong. There is lot of misinformation on internet, which could lead to anxiety and confusion when the mother to be reads them.
Effects of anxiety on the fetus
Even during ancient times, without the progress in medical sciences, people knew that the emotional state of the woman will affect the child growing in her womb. Scientific research has found substantial proof supporting this theory and now the doctors refer to it as ‘Fetal programming hypotheses’. High level of anxiety in pregnant women can lead to ADHD syndrome, anxiety disorders and other psychotic problems in the child.
Anxiety in mother affects the baby most during the developing period between 12 to 22 weeks, which may make its appearance in the form of various disorders in the late childhood.
The harmful effects of anxiety in pregnant woman on the fetus are known to surpass the harmful effects of smoking or drinking.