Taking care of the mental health of women during pregnancy is important. The latest studies on the subject have found that suffering from a disorder, such as depression, could have negative consequences for mother and baby, from presenting complications in pregnancy to increasing the risk of certain long-term diseases in the baby.
But in addition to depression -which is usually the mental health disorder that most frequently occurs in pregnancy-, we must also take care of anxiety levels during this stage .
According to a recent study, anxiety during pregnancy could increase the risk of preterm labor , so maintaining a relaxed state at this stage is essential. We share the data from this new study, as well as some tips to avoid anxiety during pregnancy.
anxiety in pregnancy
Published in the journal ‘ Health Psychology ‘, this new research from the American Psychological Association reminds us of the importance of taking care of mental health during pregnancy.
According to the results of a study involving nearly 200 women, women who experience anxiety during pregnancy are more likely to give birth earlier than those who do not .
One particular finding the authors note is that the strongest association between anxiety and preterm birth was in women whose anxiety was caused by fears related to their third-trimester pregnancy , such as the health of their baby or fear at childbirth
Other previous studies of anxiety during pregnancy have found that it may also increase the risk of having a C-section for the first time, compared to women who did not suffer from it.
How to avoid anxiety during pregnancy
These studies are complicated by something the authors mention: sometimes the same pressure to be anxiety-free increases levels of anxiety and stress in pregnant women. The worry about not having it, because we know that it can harm our baby, causes us to have it.
Therefore, rather than worrying about “what could happen” (which is what people with anxiety usually do), we will have to take care of avoiding it and staying calm . During pregnancy, there are several things we can do to achieve this:
1) Meditate and do breathing exercises
Meditation is one of the most effective ways to avoid anxiety. Whether with music, with a guided meditation audio or by reciting a mantra, meditating helps us calm our mind and keep those intrusive thoughts at bay that do not bring us anything positive.
2) Avoid being saturated with information
Many of the fears we have during pregnancy are perfectly valid: we all want our baby to develop and be born in the best possible way. However, some of them can arise when our pregnancies do not meet the expectations that we often have, and the same information overload makes us extremely alert and question anything that is out of the “normal”, creating unnecessary worries.
3) Talk to the doctor
As I mentioned before, the root of anxiety is often in those thoughts of what “could” happen. When in doubt, it is best to consult the doctor and ask him to provide us with the information we need to know to have a healthy and positive pregnancy.
4) Listen to instrumental music
In addition to meditation and breathing exercises, it is proven that instrumental music can also help us during this stage. According to one study, music therapy is an effective way to reduce anxiety levels during pregnancy and labor.
5) Practice self-care
Pregnancy, while wonderful, can also be exhausting. Taking a few minutes a day to practice self-care will help us be more relaxed and have a more positive mindset.
6) Go to therapy
Finally, the most effective way to treat any mental health disorder during pregnancy: psychological therapy . In case our anxiety does not reduce or goes beyond common and occasional fears, it is best to seek professional help.
Cover photo | Alex Green on Pexels