Pregnancy & Anxiety

I wouldn’t say I have always been a particularly anxious person. I was a quiet kid though and could be found clinging to my mum for the first 10 years of my life. During my teenage years, I became brave and gained confidence that led me to do amazing things. It was when my Mom fell ill that I experienced my first anxiety attack and things escalated from there.

As I stepped into my third trimester who would have known how bittersweet this pregnancy would feel. I found myself questioning… Am I suffering from depression during pregnancy? I decided to publish this post after another episode of losing control of my feelings. I hope it helps at least one Mother to reach out for the help that she may be needing right now.

It all became too much.

Once you experience the emotions of anxiety in your body, I believe it never leaves. But it can eventually be controlled. Every illness, bad day, family row – it all led to anxiety. From achy legs to a tight chest, all the symptoms were there only to escalate month by month as soon as I fell pregnant.

Controlling anxiety.

The months after losing my Mum were the worst and feelings led to thoughts which then led back to anxiety emotions. I undertook a lot of counselling and started to control it with ease. I also started regular exercise and my body along with my mind were eventually back on a good place.

Pregnant.

I found out I was pregnant last summer and felt amazing. I looked so well and was utterly blooming but something was not quite right. My hormones were crazy. This is normal during pregnancy I was constantly told. But deep down I knew these feelings were not right. I was angry and my mood was uncontrollable. This was more than just pregnancy hormones and my family were fleeing every time I entered the room. I mentioned it to my midwife and had a few counselling sessions but my mood was not lifting.

Pregnancy Scare.

At 25 weeks pregnant, I experienced a pregnancy scare. I didn’t see it coming until my mucus plug dislodged and Fortunately I headed straight to the labor ward to have it investigated. I spent nearly a week in the St. Joseph Women’s Center which was hours away from home as I was in early labor. That first night after being administered steroid injections for the babies lungs, I had the worst panic attack to date. I could not walk yet could not leave the toilet. Emotionally and mentally I was a wreck and the mountain of drugs just added to the discomfort In my body and mind.

Time to reach out.

Luckily my baby stayed out and I was discharged in bed rest. Something had triggered though and every feeling, every twinge and slight pain led to anxiety. Every day, I was convinced I was going to go into labor and have a premature baby. I was scared and angry. A trio of inclinations ram through my head and I just did not feel happy.

I moved to the spare room and spent my days shouting and my evenings crying alone. I had to take drastic action and rid of the thoughts that were taking over my life.

Mental health.

I changed hospitals and registered with a hospital within a reasonable distance of my house that was recommended for its midwifery-led birthing unit. This meant midwives were available almost all of the time. The unit had two theatres solely for deliveries and sections, a water birthing ward and a special neonatal ward in case of early arrival of my baby. On my first visit I filled in the relevant paperwork and expressed my concerns.

Support.

All I had to do was pick up the phone to my allocates midwife if I felt unable to cope. This did happen on many occasions and every time I was made an appointment that same day or within 24 hours to see my midwife face to face and talk about my feelings. I was offered medication (anti depressants) but I declined. I was also assigned to a specialist mental health midwife who would help me arrange my planned c section and talk about my fears.

Control.

The midwives gave me control back of my pregnancy. The counselling taught me tactics and coping mechanism and the midwives surrounded me with support. There were so many appointments to attend but every time I felt that little bit stronger. The anxiety never fully went away but I was finally dealing with the symptoms by asking for solid help. Nobody judged me or threatened to take my baby away, another fear of mine.

Outcome.

So I planned my energetic section and was put in control of my dates and the appointments/ support that I wanted to have during the rest of my pregnancy. I felt lots better about becoming a Mum again and so much more confident knowing that I had a team to look after me and guide me every step of the way. The only barrier was the physical anxiety symptoms that seemed to escalate every time I felt unwell.

Labor.

I ended up going into early labor and spent two days having panic attacks in between contractions. My body was a mess but the new found confidence gave me a strength which I needed to become a Mum again.

During my emergency c section, I was given some anxiety meds as the spinal block had caused sensations and feeling which became too much. My baby was delivered but my body had gone into shock and I could not control the shaking and the immense feeling of pressure on my chest. My shivering body was so uncontrollable that I could not hold my own baby. Everything was out of my control and this was not the result I had planned. The recovery team weighted my body with a heated blanket and forced a sugary cup of tea down my throat! I hate tea but the sugar hit triggered something inside my brain. Slowly my body was calming itself and I heard the faint sound of my beautiful baby crying in a plastic cot at the end of my bed. I asked for her to be passed to me and our bodies touched. I was utterly in love and still remember the first feel of her soft skin and those adorable wrinkles. Just like that everything was ok, it had to be. The effects had disappeared and I was in control. I felt powerful and took charge of becoming a Mother for the second time.

Moving on.

I do feel sad that I experienced so much Anxiety during pregnancy and it really took its toll on my mind and body. I honestly worried that I would not be able to get back to a good place once my little girl was born but I had nothing to worry about. I am doing great and enjoying her so much. A little sleep deprived but amazingly happy.

Pregnancy Anxiety Resources.

It’s important to find help if you suffer from anxiety and depression. The NIH has published an action plan on their website. Locally, in Austin, the therapists at Austin Anxiety and OCD Specialists may be able to help.

Austin Anxiety and OCD Specialists
205 Wild Basin Road South #3 Suite 202
Austin, TX 78746
(512) 246-7225
austinanxiety.com

If you’re worried about anxiety, talk to your doctor about the best ways to deal with it. Non-medication options such as talk therapy, mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and exercise, as well as medications, may be considered. As always, if you’re looking for information about specific medications while pregnant, planning a pregnancy, or nursing, please consult our resources.