I’ve been feeling strangely calm during this pregnancy, not too worried about things going wrong or having a difficult labor. There are a few concerns at the back of my mind but mainly I’ve been pretty serene. This could be caused by the pregnancy hormones or the lack of PMS, who knows?
But many women can feel almost overwhelmed during pregnancy by a combination of unpleasant symptoms, money and relationship fears, job stress, dealing with small children, elderly parents, or a pre-existing mental or physical illness.
These can all be a trigger for anxiety.
Unfortunately doctors and midwives often fail to identify women struggling with anxiety, despite the high risk during pregnancy. Studies show a quarter of pregnant women will experience significant anxiety, particularly those who have had complications in previous pregnancies, but only a small number are offered treatment. Both drug and non-drug treatments are available, although no treatment was found to be risk-free in a recent review of the evidence. The long-term effects of exposure to either medications or severe maternal anxiety are as yet unknown, say researchers.
It’s quite common for women to want to be as well-informed and prepared as possible; however, sometimes the information we receive can trigger worries rather than alleviate concerns. Luckily there are some reliable and honest websites that can put our minds at rest. A few days ago I noticed something I hadn’t expected, and within five minutes I discovered it was completely normal and healthy, thanks to www.mumsnet.com (highly recommended).
I’m definitely one of the women who likes to be well-informed. In fact, there’s been a pile of childbirth books waiting patiently on the coffee table for some time. Perhaps there is an element of nerves after all! Fortunately one of the books contains a relaxation DVD. Sounds like a very good idea.
The risk of postpartum depression
I’ve got several friends who have experienced depression after having a baby, so I’m reading up on the risk factors. No one is sure how many women are affected, because many women don’t seek medical help. Apparently it usually develops in the first four to six weeks but could happen later on.
One possible factor is the inevitable hormone changes after pregnancy, but I can’t do anything about that. Other suggested risk factors include a history of depression, abuse, or mental illness, smoking or alcohol use, fears over childcare, a difficult relationship, a lack of finances, the baby’s temperament or health problems such as colic, and especially lack of social support. Some experts think there’s a genetic role too. Lack of sleep can also contribute. Oh dear, that’s already started and I haven’t even had the baby yet!
Sleep troubles in pregnancy
After having the ideal pregnancy until now, I’m starting to have a noticeable nighttime niggle: sleep is no longer my friend. Some nights are OK, only waking once or twice for bathroom visits, but it’s definitely going downhill. I’m 30 and a half weeks pregnant with a fast-expanding bump so it’s hardly surprising that getting comfortable at night is tricky. I use a complicated arrangement of pillows which is fine for a while, but turning over takes a fair bit of effort and coordination — so much so that I’m often too awake afterward to drop off again. Added to which are the baby’s movements. I don’t know if I’m concentrating more or if he really is busier at night, but it can sometimes feel like my midsection is being driven over a bumpy road while the rest of me is lying still.
As expected, I’m a lot hungrier than usual, and this can even wake me up. Then if I do have a midnight snack, the baby gets an energy boost (this happens after every meal) and starts jumping around even more energetically. He’s moving as I write this, as if to agree.
Luckily I’m already limiting my caffeine intake, so that won’t exacerbate the situation. The mattress is very good, and I use excellent (silicon) earplugs and an eye mask due to living in the center of a city. Having a bath before bed tends to help, too. But certain factors are outside of my control, and I get the feeling this might be a very warm summer, oh dear.
Being a light sleeper at the best of times, I suppose pregnancy sleep issues are only to be expected. And of course there’ll be another major distraction in about ten weeks so maybe it’s better to get used to interrupted sleep sooner than later