Anxiety and Pregnancy

Love Every Moment

Pregnancy is hard.

Swollen feet and ankles, back pain and stretch marks are common and almost inevitable pleasures experienced. Medical conditions such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and placenta previa can all make the “special” time of carrying a baby especially difficult and possible complications such as placental abruption and uterine rupture can lead to premature labour and at worst fetal and/or maternal death.

Pregnancy is not fun.

Don’t get me wrong; it has it’s nice times. Feeling a little life move and kick inside of you. The anticipation and excitement of holding your baby in your arms. Having people fawn and fuss over you, not allowing you to pick up a tissue, can all make you feel very special. However, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can have a great impact on how enjoyable your pregnancy may be and how you may adjust to motherhood post-partum.

Throughout my first pregnancy my anxiety was (in hindsight) well under control. There was the odd late night or two, when trying to fall asleep, when a sudden panic would overwhelm me as I thought about actually giving birth; however apart from these occasional fleeting moments I did not have any concerns throughout my pregnancy and was blissfully unaware of all the things that could possibly go wrong. As the saying goes, ignorance is bliss. This is especially true for the anxiety sufferer.

In my second pregnancy was the knowledge of labour in all it’s gory – sorry- glory(!); however I was also very lucky to have a previously relatively short and easy drug-free vaginal birth with no complications with myself or baby. Still, it is safe to say it is certainly not a process one would willingly go through if not for the end result – the joy of holding a beautiful baby in your arms at the end. My second son was born prematurely at 33 weeks after spontaneous labour (again thankfully with no major complcations) and it was not until that point that it even occurred to me that things can go drastically wrong throughout a pregnancy.

Throughout my third (and current) preganancy however my anxiety level has been high to say the least. Along with the fear of another premature birth given my second son’s early arrival (and my own at 27 weeks in 1982) I feel it could be a real possibility that my third child may decide to come even earlier than her brother or mother. Along with this fear is the access to Google 24/7 via smart phones and wide-ranged free Wi-Fi. Thanks to Google (and my anxious mind) I am now well aware of all the things that can go wrong which may threaten to take the life of my baby or myself, as well as all the signs and symptoms accompanying each condition (which funnily enough seem to produce themselves physically once that knowledge is imprinted in my mind). It is only for a very patient and understanding (and likely suffering) midwife and my own ability to distinguish when my anxious thoughts are overcoming my rational sense that I have not had a complete breakdown in the past 6 and 1/2 months.

Part of my anxiety management through my pregnancy has been to GET OFF GOOGLE! For some knowledge is power; and while I agree it is always better to be fully informed about things especially when it comes to your health, for those suffering from health related phobia’s and anxiety; it is best not to know some things. At times I feel like if I am to Google something that I think is wrong then I will find that the pain or concern I am experiencing is nothing to worry abut and will be able to put my phone down and continue on with my day happy in the knowledge that everything is fine. However this happens very rarely. Instead I continue to Google and scour forums for mother’s who are experiencing the same complaint until I find that one comment or sentence that confirms all my worst fears that what I am currently experiencing could, possibly, if even by a long shot, be something more serious. Even if I had read 100 pages or comments stating that my concern is nothing; that one comment is all it takes for me to constantly worry and be convinced that things will go horribly wrong. In the end both my midwife and I both agreed that Dr. Google was not a good physican and I should stay away completely from the internet! If I have any concerns I now text message my midwife, however since I have not been researching via internet surfing my anxiety has reduced dramatically and mysterious aches and pains have dissapered without recurrence.

I can now hopefully continue to relax and begin to enjoy my pregnancy and rest my swollen feet and ankles without fear. I am keeping a positive frame of mind and appreciating each day that I carry my child and every movement and kick I feel as it means we are both happy and healthy.

 

If you or anyone you know needs help dealing with anxiety or depression please contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or at http://www.beyondblue.org.au

Some Handy Tips for First-Time Mothers (and second, third, fourth…)!

mother-and-baby-l-lauter

Here are some (hopefully) helpful thoughts or advice on what I found made things a little bit easier when caring for baby. Although everyone is quick to give advice regarding how you should look after your baby; especially when its your first, at times this advice is not helpful despite all good intentions, or just does not suit your routine, parenting style etc. I hate to be another one of those people, and if you have already been bombarded with helpful tips and feeling are annoyed by the whole process I suggest you stop reading now! Or at least do what most do and take good information and store it for later while disregarding the not-so-helpful hints. At the end of the day you will come up with your own way of caring for your baby that suits you and your little one; which is how I came to develop these “handy tips” – which as stated are only suggestions on what I found helped made things easier and enabled me to really enjoy caring for a newborn and everything that goes with it. So, here are some of my handy hints:

  • If bottle-feeding try to wash/sterilize bottles at night so come morning (when sleep deprived), you have fresh clean bottles ready to go. Try to wash/sterilize as many as you can accommodating for all of baby’s feeds for the following 24 hour period. E.g: If baby has 4 bottles per day wash/sterilize a minimum of 4 bottles.
  • Similarly if using Milton sterilizer change solution at night also so the next day solution will be fine to use until the time you changed it last (solution lasts 24 hours). Also, you can cut down on tablet/solution use by getting another days worth of bottles clean, so hopefully you will not have to use solution the next day. E.g: My baby is on 2 bottles per day (rest breastfeed) so I sterilize 4 bottles at a time, using 2 on Day 1, leaving two for Day 2. On the 3rd day I change solution and sterilize all four bottles and repeat process for days 4, 5 and 6. Plus, its always good to have extra clean bottles on hand should baby need an extra feed.
  • Boil water at night before bed or early in morning (6-7 am). As with sterilizing solution boiled bottle water lasts for 24 hrs. I found doing this meant the water was cooled and ready to go for morning routine.
  • Put a post-it-note or have a log for sterilizing solution/boiled water to record times solution changed/water boiled, as its easy to forget. Alternatively if able try to pick a time you do both each day routinely so you know that at 8 pm for example is when solution/water ‘expires’/needs changing.
  • Have a separate kettle for baby’s bottle water. You can buy cheap kettles for around $10 and dedicate this kettle to baby’s bottle water so Mum/Dad can still have a coffee without interfering with boiling times/cool down process. There is nothing worse than having a hungry, screaming baby and a kettle full of boiling hot water that you cant use for an hour or more! If this does happen, put the boiling water in the bottle and place in fridge or even freezer to speed up the cool down.
  • If breastfeeding invest in a good quality automatic pump. AVENT (Phillips) is a fantastic model and well worth the money. Some cheaper manual ones will not extract milk effectively increasing risk of mastitis (and a lot of frustration and tears), or even not work at all. I bought a Tommee Tippee manual pump for $60 which fell apart every time after one pump. For $150 I got the AVENT automatic and loved it so much I wanted to marry it!
  • Don’t bother with expensive bottle brushes. I’ve seen (and bought) bottle brushes at ridiculous prices. I purchased one for $15 which looked aesthetically pleasing but in practicality was a piece of crap, breaking within a week. I next purchased a plain, ‘old-school’ wire one from The Reject Shop (discount store) for $4 and am still using it now after 8 months and many clean bottles with no complaints.
  • Don’t worry about housework! Yes, admittedly it is nicer and somewhat easier to cope in a  clean house but do not sacrifice your health/energy or more importantly bonding time with baby. As cliche as it may sound babies grow up quick and that special  time does not last forever so enjoy it! As a lovely little poem outlines: “Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow, for babies grow up we’ve learnt to our sorrow, so quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep, I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep”.
  • Don’t feel bad if you don’t know what your doing! I remember with my first born my mother and mother-in-law would say “You know what he wants” and “you know him best”; especially as far as a feeding routine was concerned, except I didn’t know what I was doing at all! Their comments would give me a sense of failure and feelings of inadequacy that my motherly instincts were not telling me what to do. In actuality it is normal to not know what to do particularly with your first baby. Babies are hard and every baby is different,Your first child will be different to your second, and third in temperament, routine etc. And; just when you think you have them worked out they will go and have a growth spurt or developmental change and throw the routine you just worked out completely out the window! Mothering is all about trial and error and going with the flow; what works one day wont always work the next, but with each adversity comes a learning experience and another ‘mothering’ skill under your belt (apron?)!
  • Take time for yourself. Don’t forget you are not just a  mother but a person! Let grandma babysit for an hour or two and go and get your hair/nails done or go out for lunch with your friends, you will feel better about yourself and appreciate baby all the more when you get back home.

I hope these tips were helpful to some and help mothers expand their “skills” and make things a little easier throughout a wonderful time in your life. Enjoy your baby because they are beautiful! xoxox

Image: “Mother and Baby” by L. Lauter fineartamerica.com