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