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  • Writer's pictureInterval Health

Pregnancy Not What You Expected? – How to Manage Prenatal Anxiety

Updated: Oct 23, 2019

Pregnant woman looks fine but experiences anxiety
Many women expect pregnancy to be a joyous time. But underneath, it can also be a very anxious time for many.

A little nervousness and a dash of worry are perfectly normal when you’re expecting a baby—especially if it’s your first child.

Yet, when those worries start to take over, it can create a big problem.

Prenatal anxiety can quickly take away the joy of pregnancy. You might start to focus on all of the potential “what ifs” instead of actually enjoying or appreciating the experience.

When these “what ifs” become uncontrollable, you might start to feel some of the classic symptoms of anxiety.

For the health and well-being of both you and your baby, getting professional help is usually the best solution. First, let’s look at some of the warning signs.

Who Is at Risk?

While any woman can experience prenatal anxiety, if you’ve had anxious tendencies before, you may be at a greater risk of developing it. Even if you’ve been able to manage your anxiety before, something as major as having a baby can open the anxiety door again.

Previous infertility struggles or experiencing a previous pregnancy loss can also heighten anxiety during pregnancy as you may be worried that something could go wrong at anytime. (Read more about that here.)

Women who might consider themselves perfectionists are also at risk. If your pregnancy isn’t exactly what you expected, you might start to feel anxious. Or, if you tend to need everything to be perfect, you might face some nervousness when things don’t work out according to plan.

If you do have a history with either of these issues, one of the best things you can do is to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally early on in your pregnancy. It’s okay to seek the help of therapist even if you’re trying to get pregnant, so you can continue to manage your symptoms in a healthy way.

What Are the Signs of Prenatal Anxiety?

Again, pregnancy can come with many worries and nerves. However, there’s a fine line that needs to be monitored throughout the experience.

Some common anxiety themes during pregnancy include:

  • Googling every little twinge or symptom

  • Constant fear about the health of your unborn child

  • Fretting over being a good parent

  • Feeling nervous about how the baby will impact your relationship

These thoughts in small doses aren’t necessarily a problem. But when they completely take over, they will make it hard to focus on anything else.

Anxiety comes with a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue

  • Excessive fear

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Dizziness

  • Sweating

If you find yourself experiencing any of the symptoms while you’re worried about some of the things listed above (or anything associated with your pregnancy), it might be time to seek out professional help.

Can Prenatal Anxiety Be Treated?

You can do a lot of things on your own to help yourself calm down and manage your anxiety. Exercise, yoga, or even keeping a journal are all good activities when you start to get lost in your thoughts.

To get to the root of the problem, though, it’s a good idea to talk to a therapist. Therapy can help you to further understand your triggers and what might be causing you to be so anxious. When you can get to the bottom of those triggers, you can start to get a better handle on how to avoid them or conquer them.

Talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are both useful when it comes to dealing with prenatal anxiety. 

After all, this should be a joyous time in your life. And, while every new mother gets a bit nervous, it’s important not to let those nerves and worry overshadow how amazing the experience can be.

To learn more about how counseling can help you during your pregnancy, please click here.

By being able to manage your anxiety, you can appreciate your pregnancy more while remaining confident that you are doing your best for your baby. I offer a complimentary phone consultation to all potential clients. To schedule yours in a matter of seconds, please check here. Together, we can get to the root of your anxiety, and go over ways you can manage your symptoms.

COMING SOON! A workshop for couples who are thinking about or planning to have a baby, who are expecting a baby or who have children already. Based on years of research and experience and developed by the Gottman Institute, this 12 hour workshop is designed to repair communication skills and jump start your relationship with your partner. For more information, please click here.


Jennifer Perera is a mom, spouse and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over a decade’s worth of experience in mental health. She has a private practice in New Jersey, with locations in Cranford and Princeton. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual, group and couples counseling. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with a pregnancy loss or infertility. Her other passion is travelling to different parts of the world and her goal is to vacation in a different locale every time. She also has a great fondness for cats!


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