Pregnancy is a beautiful, miraculous gift. It can also be a source of anxiety, worry and fear for many women. I was fortunate enough to get pregnant naturally at 40 after only two months of trying.
News of my pregnancy brought my husband and I tremendous joy, but it also brought me loads of anxiety.
Being a women’s health and fertility expert, I have helped hundreds, nearly a thousand, women conceive. And as amazing as it is to be a part of so many healthy, thriving pregnancies—I have also been a part of many miscarriages and pregnancy losses. Seeing a woman who wants nothing more than to have a healthy baby go through a pregnancy loss is heartbreaking...It’s beyond words.
So for me, even though I had never experienced a pregnancy loss myself, I have stood in solidarity with dozens of women who have and that experience had me ridden with anxiety during the first half of my pregnancy.
What is a newly pregnant woman feeling this way supposed to do? Forty weeks is a long time to continue to feel this way.
Here’s what I found most helpful in managing through the anxiety of my pregnancy.
1. Getting out of my head and into my heart.
By this I mean being present mentally and being honest with yourself. I find that when I am in my head and my mind is racing about all the things that can go wrong (but haven’t necessarily) these feelings heighten my anxiety.
To combat this, I try to tune into my thoughts, take a deep breath and force myself to disconnect from my mind and reconnect to my heart. It takes a quiet mind to truly connect to your heart, but it is possible.
And when I did that, I would ask my heart, “Do I really think these thoughts are true or am I just freaking out about all the what if’s?” The answer always was some version of, “I know in my heart that all will be healthy with my pregnancy and my baby.” I was able to calm down. When I tuned into my heart, it was clear that all was going to be okay.
2. Focusing on the joy in my life.
This is something I practice all the time and have my patients do as well, pregnant or not. Focusing on the joy in my life in the here and now helps me stay present and keeps me in a state of gratitude and hope.
When I found myself getting worried or anxious over all the possible things that could go wrong with my pregnancy, I would take time to list three things that bring me joy right now.
It could be as simple as the joy of a deep breath or the joy of the meal I just had or the joy of the smile I shared with a friend. It just had to be three things that were bringing me joy in the moment. The act of shifting my focus from anxiety to joy changed my energy entirely and soothed my worries.
3. Sharing the feeling.
One of the things that helped me the most through my pregnancy was knowing I wasn’t alone. I shared my anxiety rather than bottling it up. Being surrounded and supported by a community of other women experiencing what I was experiencing helped me so much that I created an online support group for women who are pregnant. It’s called the Yes, You Are Pregnant community.
Having a community to support you through all the trimesters of pregnancy is invaluable and can make all the difference in how you handle any anxiety or stress that can come with this phase of your life.
Anxiety in a new pregnancy is real and absolutely normal...But I refused to let fear paralyze me or live in a constant state of worry, as I knew that those negative emotions could affect not only my health but also the health of my baby. I didn’t want my whole pregnancy to feel like one giant ball of anxiety rolling through my life. I wanted to take control of it.