Anxiety in Pregnancy

Are you suffering from anxiety during pregnancy?

Feelings of Anxiety can sometimes be hard to identify.In today’s society, it is not uncommon to lead a busy or stressful life. Many of our schedules are full of work, family and social commitments; which after awhile can make us feel as though we are racing through time where the days and the weeks fly by all too fast. In a fast moving society, it is not uncommon for pregnant women to feel like they are overreacting or losing the plot when in fact they could be suffering from anxiety and need support.

My name is Jonathan Yang, Director of Life Synergy Acupuncture and Natural Medicine situated in the heart of Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast. At our clinic we have a strong passion to be aware in paying close attention to the stressors and anxieties that may arise in our pregnant clients. Pregnancy usually gives rise to happy and elatedness thought approximately thirty percent of pregnant women will experience some level of anxiety in Australia2. During pregnancy their is a large hormonal change and most pregnant woman will feel aches and pains that they never felt before. Not only do they need to worry about their own health, but will worry about the health of their baby let alone the worry of financial responsibilities, their plan for work in the future as well as living arrangements once the baby is born.We FIRSTLY we teach our pregnant woman to recognise the symptomatic responses they may be experiencing when their anxieties arise. Below are some common features and symptoms of anxiety.

Common Features Of Anxiety Disorders

  • Feeling of being on edge or nervous
  • Persistent and irrational fears or
  • Excessive worry
  • Difficulty concentrating and remembering things
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Avoidance of situations, places, people, activities, thoughts or feelings that trigger anxiety

Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety

  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Tightness in chest
  • Sweating, trembling, tingling or numbness
  • Dry mouth
  • People who experience anxiety over long periods of time can also develop muscle tension and headaches. (Fact File ABC Health & Wellness)3

These are more commonly known as our body’s STRESS response. A great example of our body’s stress response is when we are at the beach and we see a shark fin swim by, our body normally goes into immediate panic otherwise known as our body’s natural stress response… Eyes dilate, heart rate increases, breathe quickens to regulate body temperature are major stimulates of the body’s stress response that will increase anxiety symptoms. Unfortunately, without realising, many of us have these same stress responses when we are running late, undergoing an issue with our employer, caught in traffic.

SECONDLY, it is important to link where the anxieties may stem from – past or current events in life that may be increasing or triggering the anxieties (finance, work, relationship stresses)

THIRDLY, as we learn to recognise when anxiety arises and have a deep understanding where it is coming from, we use mindful breathing to process our body’s stress response and immediately calm the body and mind down. Putting focus on the breath, even for a few moments, teaches us to be mindful and to notice when our thoughts are racing or whether our body’s are holding any tension. Once we establish mindful breathing, we will train new conscious habits giving us the tools needed to settle our body’s anxieties

If you find it difficult to breathe and calm your body down don’t worry you are not alone. Most of the population has some level of stress and when you do mindful breathing thought find it difficult, tight or it may even create an anxious feeling in the chest – it is a good indicator that your body’s stress response are not balanced.

Acupuncture, massage, counselling, yoga, meditation and having great midwife support are fast, safe and effective modalities to alleviate anxiety in pregnancy.St Johns wart, Lavendar, Zizyphus, B vitamins and essential fatty acids (fish oils) are clinical tried herbal and nutritional supplements that may help with anxiety.1 It is always recommended to see your trusted qualified natural therapist for a proper prescription when taking herbal or nutritional supplementation.

Low to moderate impact exercise such as yoga, pilates, walking or swimming is always recommended and is safe to do well into the final days of your pregnancy unless you have been advised by your healthcare practitioner otherwise.

Healthy regular sleeping habits 7-8 hours a night.

Dr Lawrence Epstein professor at Harvard Medical says “People who have problems with sleep are at increased risk for developing emotional disorders, depression and anxiety.”4

If you are having troubles with your sleep, some considerations

  • cease or reduce sugar and caffeine
  • make sure adequate protein is being consumed
  • try not to watch tv after 7pm
  • practice regular sleeping habits e.g going to be at 10pm

Once you feel supported, able to recognise your stress responses, understand where these patterns have stemmed from and are able to breathe through this is the first steps to support yourself and others around you enabling one to enjoy the nine months of pregnancy, through to parenthood.

This article was written for BornOnline by Jonathan Yang.

Bibliography 1 Trickey.R (2011). “Woman, Hormones & the Menstrual Cycle” Specific Disorders During Adolescence 131-135 2 Treatment of perinatal depression – Australian Prescriber. 2015. Treatment of perinatal depression – Australian Prescriber. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.australianprescriber.com/magazine/31/2/36/9. [Accessed 23 February 2015]. 3 Anxiety Disorders – Health & Wellbeing. 2015. Anxiety Disorders – Health & Wellbeing. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/health/library/stories/2005/06/07/1828950.htm. [Accessed 23 February 2015]. 4 Sleep and Mood | Need Sleep. 2015. Sleep and Mood | Need Sleep. [ONLINE] Available at: http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/mood. [Accessed 23 February 2015]. 5 Hechtman.L (2014). “Clinical Naturopathic Medicine” The Nervous System 1194 – 1195 – See more at: http://bornonline.com.au/anxiety-pregnancy-jonathon-yang/#sthash.oUvda5Bz.dpuf