Anxiety in pregnancy….. it might not be “just the pregnancy hormones”
Updated: Jan 21
Pregnancy anxiety is a concern that is gaining increasing recognition. It is normal to feel anxious during pregnancy because pregnancy is a period of dramatic physiological and psychological changes, and with this comes an increased vulnerability to experiencing anxiety (Wenzel & American Psychological, 2011).
However, sometimes these anxiety feelings can start to have a negative impact on your life.
We know that 10% to 15% of pregnant mums will experience pregnancy anxiety(Huizink et al., 2016; NICE, 2014). Unfortunately, this is potentially an underestimate for a number of reasons;
changes in emotional state during pregnancy is often dismissed as “pregnancy hormones” and referred to as normal, rather than signs of depression/anxiety.
parents may not report pregnancy anxiety symptoms due to fear of judgement from others in terms of their capacity to parent
pregnant women may not have a regular care provider who is familiar with them to be able to recognise early changes in mood and possible signs of pregnancy anxiety.
Some of the things that you might be feeling while anxious during your pregnancy include:
feel worried or stressed most of the time
difficulty “turning off thoughts”
obsessing about baby
feel tension in muscles
find it hard to stay calm
difficulty sleeping not related to pregnancy (getting to sleep and staying asleep)
You may also experience anxiety and fears specifically related to your pregnancy including:
fears related to childbirth,
worries about the health of the baby,
concerns about body changes during pregnancy, and
fears about changes in relationships.
If you have experienced anxiety in the past or tend to be a worrier it’s important to monitor for anxiety in pregnancy. If you notice that the symptoms are lasting more days than not for a period of more than two weeks it may to time to reach out for additional support with one of our perinatal psychologists or psychiatrist here on the Sunshine Coast, who will be able to support you to work through your worries and fears.
Huizink, A., Delforterie, M., Scheinin, N., Tolvanen, M., Karlsson, L., & Karlsson, H. (2016). Adaption of pregnancy anxiety questionnaire–revised for all pregnant women regardless of parity: PRAQ-R2. Official Journal of the Section on Women's Health of the World Psychiatric Association, 19(1)
NICE. (2014). Antenatal and postnatal mental health: Clinical management and service guidance. Retrieved from UK: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg192/resources/antenatal-and-postnatal-mental-health-clinical-management-and-service-guidance-pdf-35109869806789
Wenzel, A., & American Psychological, A. (2011). Anxiety in childbearing women : diagnosis and treatment (1st ed. ed.). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.