Becoming a parent is an overwhelming life change that may trigger anxiety during pregnancy. Learning how it affects you and your baby can help you find ways to cope.

There are various reasons you may experience anxiety while pregnant. This may occur if you question what’s considered to be typical during pregnancy or experience concerns about the birthing process.

Anxiety during pregnancy can be difficult to cope with, whether you’re adding another member to your family or a first-time parent. Everything that happens and all the questions you might have about the future may make you worry.

But help is available to reduce your anxiety symptoms and support you throughout pregnancy and postpartum. You’re not alone.

A 2019 meta-analysis found that 13% to 39% of pregnant women with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) had the onset of this type of anxiety disorder during pregnancy.

Someone who experiences previous pregnancy losses might excessively worry if their baby is OK. Others might become anxious if they’ll become a good parent or how siblings will react to the change.

Additionally, the financial aspects of a growing family or how their relationship with their partner will change may cause overwhelming worry.

While pregnancy is a joyful time, it can also bring about a lot of worrisome thoughts. Worrying is OK, but it can turn into anxiety if your worry interferes with your ability to function.

Becoming overly panicky or experiencing a rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath could indicate the need for professional help.

According to 2020 research, experiencing anxiety during pregnancy can negatively impact how you bond with your baby before and after birth.

A study from 2015 suggests that severe anxiety and stress during pregnancy can also affect your baby’s development. It can increase the chances of preterm birth or low birth weight.

Anxiety in pregnancy can also contribute to emotional or behavioral challenges for the child as they age.

A 2019 study indicates that high anxiety levels in mothers can increase the risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. Experiencing anxiety doesn’t mean your child will have ADHD, but it could increase the chances.

Anxiety symptoms can vary. Symptoms can occur before, during, and after pregnancy.

Anxiety symptoms vary, and you likely won’t experience all of them. They include:

Learning to calm anxiety before birth can positively impact your overall well-being and support a healthy attachment with your child. Consider the following ways to calm your anxiety symptoms.

Be mindful of how you spend your time online

Online forums or groups are becoming increasingly popular. They’re often helpful and offer you a means of support, but they may also cause anxiety. While every pregnancy story and hardship deserves to be heard, it can interfere with your mental health.

Consider limiting the time you spend reading other’s birthing stories, especially if you notice these stories heighten feelings of anxiety. I

Find an OB-GYN you trust

Having a doctor that you trust can make all the difference. Your doctor should make you feel safe, and you should worry about calling in with questions between appointments.

An obstetrics gynecologist (OB-GYN) is there to ensure your and your baby’s health. When you’re comfortable with your doctor, this can help you feel less anxious.

You may also consider hiring a midwife or doula to learn what to expect when visiting doctors. Understanding what to expect can help you develop a sense of agency and safety.

Understand the symptoms of pregnancy

You might experience morning sickness one day and feel fine the next. Pregnancy symptoms vary based on the trimester of pregnancy you’re in.

You will notice movement as early as 20 weeks, which can be a reassuring reminder that your baby is alive.

Once you reach 28 weeks you should start monitoring or evaluating the movement. Once a day, lay on your left side and count movements until you get to 10. Expect those 10 movements in an hour or less.

Consider talking with your doctor if you have concerns.

Get plenty of sleep

Research shows that not getting enough sleep can exacerbate anxiety symptoms.

Try to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night to help ease symptoms. Consider speaking with your doctor if you have trouble sleeping; they can help you discover treatment options that best suit your needs.

Eat healthy food

What you eat can influence your mental health. 2018 research shows that eating a well-balanced diet of nutrient-dense foods can make a difference.

Consider whole foods instead of processed or fast foods. It can promote healthy gut bacteria, decreasing anxiety.

Stay active

Physical activity can help decrease anxiety. Consider speaking with your birthing team to find exercises safe for you and the baby before engaging in physical activity.

Rely on your support system

Spending time with people who want the best for you can help ease your anxiety. Consider turning to these people in your life whenever you begin worrying to ease your mind or distract you from your thoughts.

You can also take this time to build your support system. Adding experienced or expecting parents to your circle allows you to talk with people with similar feelings.

Practice Meditation

Experts indicate that practicing meditation can improve anxiety symptoms. Consider meditating during yoga, while listening to calming music, or during a prenatal massage.

Anxiety in pregnancy is common, but you can ease it by gathering the information you need. Untreated anxiety during pregnancy can reach a point where it begins to negatively impact you and your baby.

What works for one person might not work for you, but options are available to help relieve your anxiety. Finding things that bring happiness and contentment depends on your preferences and symptoms.

Consider reaching out for help so that you can live in fulfillment during this time in your life. You’re not alone and deserve to feel good during your pregnancy journey.