Pregnancy Diary: Anxiety in Pregnancy
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!