Anxiety During Pregnancy: How to Deal With It

Once the pregnancy test turns positive, the joy of a soon mum-to-be is usually untamable. But even before the first trimester ends, a rollercoaster of emotions sets in, so anxiety during pregnancy is very common. Slowly, you begin feeling something might be wrong, and the worries increase at every twist and turn.

Emotions during pregnancy vary widely, with some women being thrilled with their body changes and baby movements while others find the associated mood changes or weight gain unbearable. In sum, if the worries and thoughts about pregnancy begin to spiral out of control and even affect your everyday life, including performance at work or relationships at home, you might be experiencing anxiety.

Anxiety during pregnancy can affect anyone. Here’s how to identify and cope with the disorder.

Consult your doctor to know if you need help for anxiety or have to see a psychologist to deal with it.

Symptoms of Anxiety During Pregnancy

Worrying is normal during pregnancy, especially if you are a first-time mother, and pregnancy is an entirely new experience. Or maybe you’ve faced difficult situations in previous pregnancies, such as complicated delivery or miscarriages that warrant concern. However, excessive worrying about the baby or your health despite the doctor’s reassurance points to anxiety disorder. Anxiety interferes with your daily functioning, like depression and other mood disorders that might occur during pregnancy.

Symptoms of anxiety one might experience while pregnant include:

  • Constant worrying about your health or the baby’s
  • Feeling irritable or agitated
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep disturbance due to excessive worrying
  • Muscle tension
  • Restlessness

Anxiety disorder can also manifest with physical symptoms such as breathing problems, pounding heartbeat (palpitations), and panic attacks during pregnancy. Other mental health disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder in pregnant women, can complicate anxiety symptoms.

What Increases Your Risk of Getting Anxiety While Pregnant?

Some women are at a higher risk of developing anxiety during pregnancy than others. Known risk factors include:

  • Family history of anxiety disorders such as panic attacks and phobias
  • Increased stress
  • Previous episodes of anxiety, panic attacks, depression, or trauma
  • Use of illicit substances

What Are the Effects of Anxiety on Pregnancy?

Anxiety can occur during any trimester of pregnancy. However, the profound hormonal changes in the first trimester make anxiety most severe during this period. If anxiety persists [1*]  throughout the pregnancy, it can lead to high blood pressure, premature delivery, low birth weight, smaller-than-average head circumference, and miscarriage. For this reason, it is essential to identify and treat pregnancy-induced anxiety early.

What Causes Anxiety Attacks During Pregnancy

Physiological and physical changes associated with pregnancy can precipitate a myriad of mood conditions. Typically, worries are common. Whether it’s the heartwrenching experience of a previous miscarriage or sleeping problems due to uncomfortable positions, expectant women are bound to worry. Sometimes, thinking about how the baby will affect your relationships, the financial implications of having another child, or the delivery experience might make you anxious.

While these factors might vary from one person to another, others are universal. For instance, hormonal changes during pregnancy affect every mother-to-be and can cause anxiety and panic.

Start anxiety treatment early to prevent negative effects on your well-being.

How to Calm Anxiety While Pregnant

Fortunately, there are several ways to relieve anxiety during pregnancy and help you feel better. Those with severe episodes can take medicines such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) [2*] , usually prescribed for those with anxiety and depression. But it is essential to establish the safety of medications before use during pregnancy; therefore, a person should consult a doctor to determine a suitable medication or another form of treatment. Natural therapies are the first choice for many expectant women.

Natural Remedies for Anxiety During Pregnancy

  • Regular exercise

Physical activity promotes the release of endorphins that helps to relieve stress and anxiety. Some activities you can engage in include running, jogging, or walking. It’s generally safe to exercise while pregnant; however, consult your doctor if you’re at risk of preterm labor or other complications beforehand.

  • Adequate sleep

A good rest is essential in calming your anxiety. Practice sleep hygiene and define what helps you get a good night’s sleep. For instance, you can buy a pregnancy pillow or something else that will make you calm and comfortable.

  • Scheduling worry time

Set some time during the day, approximately 30 minutes, for productive worrying. It helps to focus on essential activities during the day, knowing that you’ll have time to think of your worries later.

  • Journaling

Writing down your worries will help you brainstorm possible solutions while allowing you to reflect on your current concerns.

  • Empowering yourself

If your worrying is related to your fear of childbirth (tokophobia), seeking empowerment by joining a birth class might help reduce your anxiety. You’ll learn about the stages of labor and how to deal with pain. It also allows you to interact with other women with similar fears.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you have frequent panic attacks or anxiety that is impairing your functioning, consider talking to your doctor. They might refer you to a therapist or prescribe certain medications to help with your stress during pregnancy. For example, seeing a therapist working in the CBT approach (cognitive-behavioral therapy) will help to challenge negative thoughts and emotions to evoke positive behaviors. In addition, patients learn specific techniques, such as pregnancy-adapted diaphragmatic breathing, to relieve anxiety.


Every woman experiences a rollercoaster of emotions during pregnancy. However, the severity varies widely. What alleviates your friend’s anxiety might not work for you. Explore different natural remedies for treating anxiety and keep the doctor in the loop to ensure you and your baby remain safe during pregnancy.


+2 sources
  1. The Prevalence of Anxiety Disorders during Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period: A Multivariate Bayesian Meta-Analysis. (2019)
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  2. SSRIs and SNRIs (SRI) in Pregnancy: Effects on the Course of Pregnancy and the Offspring: How Far Are We from Having All the Answers? (2019)
    Source link

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