Pregnancy and Anxiety

Updated on June 19, 2010
R.N. asks from Cleveland, OH
7 answers

Does anyone have any tactful way of telling an expecting mom not to worry so much about her pregnancy?
My sister is in the very early weeks with her second. She is having a different pregnancy than her first (more sickness, etc.), but because she worked so hard to get pregnant again, she's VERY emotionally invested, and worried that something might go wrong. To some degree, it's normal, but she battles depression, and I worry about her worrying (!). Even though she's still early in the pregnancy, she's already announced her pregnancy and picked out names. She's also read (what seems to me) is an excessive amount about EVERYTHING, which I think is contributing to her worries. She also doesn't like her doctor and healthcare (and can't afford to change), so that's also giving her anxiety—she feels no one is listening to her. In a way though, I feel she's just thinking about things too much.
How do I be supportive, but also let her know that she can't really control everything?
Thanks so much!

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A.C.

answers from Cincinnati on

After having several miscarriages and one healthy baby boy, I am now 19 weeks pregnant with my second son (found out it was a boy last week:) I had extreme anxiety with this pregnancy in the beginning. I found that keeping a journal about my feelings really helped me get through that anxiety. I hope everything turns out well for her:)

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A.A.

answers from Chicago on

Robyn you really can't change her. You can't stop a worrier from worrying the same as you can't stop a drunk from slurring. Some people are just this way and especially with the advent of the internet seem to torture themselves with all the phony "medical" advice out there--it definitely adds to their anxiety. "Ignorance is bliss" really does have a point doesn't it! Anyway, the best thing you can do is just try and be supportive and lend a sympathetic ear when she wants to talk something to death. Try redirection just like you would with a child that is harping on something...For instance if she is going on a rant about all the possibilities of miscarriage--validate her fears by saying "I understand that must be really scary to think about. Are you having any silly food cravings yet or have you got some names picked out?" and change the subject to something upbeat and positive. Maybe direct her to some support forums like ivillage where she can vent and talk to ladies in similar situations. Trust me there are women on there that can talk anything to death--it might be a healthy outlet for her. At the end of the day if you think she may be suffering from a real case of anxiety or depression, maybe tactfully and kindly suggest that she bring up her fears to her doctor as there are safe medications she can take while pregnant to help her cope. It is very common to suffer from anxiety or depression during pregnancy and there is no reason she has to just suffer through it. Best of luck to you and her!

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K.E.

answers from Denver on

Its hard to watch someone be so worried. Just listen and be there. Sometimes that is the best thing you can do. Perhaps since you are her sister you can get away with telling her that the books make her tend to worry a lot so suggest she should just use them as a reference when needed. You didn't mention how her first pregnancy was. If it was smooth remind her that she has done this before. Also please watch her with the depression. I had sever anxiety with my pregnancy and I really wish I had gone on some sort of meds because with that sort of history it makes you more susceptible with PPD after the baby is born. If she doesn't relax a little more as she gets further along ask your sister to talk to her doctor about the anxiety. Again just listen, be there and offer encouragement. Best of wishes to your sister and good luck to you.

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R.K.

answers from Dayton on

I would recommend she hire a doula who can help her get ready for the birth and all that--Amy Chavez at Bhakti House in Yellow Springs (http://bhaktihouse.com/) is great at helping alleviate the anxiety. And also, Bach's flower essence called "rescue remedy" can help take the edge off, and it's safe for pregnancy (I took it regularly when I was pregnant.) (http://www.rescueremedy.com/) Good luck!

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D.K.

answers from Indianapolis on

First and foremost, anxiety can create all KINDS of other problems. Nutrient absorbtion is inhibited when there is alot of stress and anxiety. She CAN'T afford that, being pregnant. There is WASTED time and and energy when you put it into things you have no control over.

I remember on of my clients being the VERY same way when she found out she was pregnant w/ twins, their first. I kept reminding her that she had PLENTY of time to do things like get the nursery set up, think about daycare, etc. She was thinking she had to do EVERYTHING right away.

She needs to make a list of what is bothering her. Volunteer to do it with her, if you want. Then, split the list into what she DOES have control over and what she doesn't. CHANGE the things she has control over and let the rest go. She can be "an octopus on roller skates" - no direction - OR she can take control over what she can.

Ranting and raving does NO GOOD TO ANYONE and honestly, annoys and/or frustrates the people you're telling all this to. AND.....if you're listening, WHY does she feel no one is listening? OR......is she the type that thrives on DRAMA? If she is, politely tell her you're NOT going to listen to it, NOT because you don't care, but rather because the drama is NOT beneficial to ANYONE. If she CHOSES to handle things in a different manner, then you'll be MORE THAN HAPPY TO LISTEN and assist.

I can't STAND the DRAMA!!! I refuse to allow it and or be around people who thrive on it. You have to continually remind her that she DOES have a choice. Is this the type of attitude/lifestyle that she wants for herself, her children and her familiy? If NOT, then CHANGE IT!! Parents don't realize MANY times, how much their attitudes and responses effect their kids. They have to learn them SOMEWHERE. Friends TELL YOU THE TRUTH even when it's not what you want to hear.

Buy her a copy of Joyce Meyer's BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING.

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S.D.

answers from Indianapolis on

Buy the book "Ina May's Guide to Birth" and wrap it all up nice and pretty. Tell her you know she's having some anxiety and you think this book will help. The first half is amazing stories of natural birth. REALLY inspiring. The second half is information about the safety of birth options.
Encourage her to find a new care provider. She can't be with the ONLY person her insurance covers, there has to be someone else out there. It sounds like she'd be better off with a midwife who will sit down and talk to her about her anxieties instead of the typical OB who is in the room for less than 10 minutes and doesn't bother to ask her how she's feeling about it all. But, I understand not all insurance plans cover midwives.
Also, there are doulas-in-training who work for free or a very reduced cost so that they can get enough experience to be certified. I looked up certification workshop leaders in Cleveland for you, she can give you names of women who have recently been through training and would be looking to assist in a birth to get certified.

Sunday Tortelli ###-###-####
[email protected]____.com

Studies show that the presence of a doula lessons anxiety, chances of c-section, episiotomy, and epidural use, and raises over-all satisfaction with the birthing process. She sounds like she REALLY needs this help.

I wish her luck:) Stand by her and be the person who listens when no one else will. Talking about her anxieties may help her come to terms with them and realize they aren't so daunting. Please PM me if you want more information about doulas or anything. If I can't help, I can point you in the right direction.

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S.S.

answers from Toledo on

I think everyone worries to some extent. I did for all 3. It was a relief for me to make it to 12 weeks when I knew my chance of miscarriage decreased. I worried a lot more about the chances of spina bifada because there was a family history so until I had my 20+ week ultrasound to see for myself that everything was developing as it should, there were fears.

Now about the sickness. Everyone tells you, "the sicker you are, the healthier the baby". I had a condition called hyperemesis. EXTREME nausea, vomiting, dehydrating, etc. It's a condition that gets worse pregnancy to pregnancy and lasts a majority of the pregnancy. With all three babies, it lasted between 19 and 25 weeks. I lost at least 10 pounds in the beginning of each pregnancy and didn't eat for days some times. I, of course, worried about the baby. My OB assured me that when this happens, it affects the mom first, long before the baby is affected. This is because woman typically begin receiving IV therapy or are hospitalized. By the third pregnancy, I thought I had done some major damage to the baby. My OB assured me that, "For whatever reason, I deliver some of the healthiest babies to woman born of this condition. In fact, I have never had a baby born to a woman with this condition and even had a birth defect." She went on to say that it is something about the hormones, although they do not know for sure yet, that causes sickness and they believe this is what is best for the baby.

As for feeling no one is listening to her, tell her to get on Mamapedia and vent or ask questions. She could get support here.

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