Friday, December 11, 2015

Anxiety and Fear of Pregnancy

Pregnant woman exercising
It's possible to be strong,
healthy and pregnant.
Pregnancy can be a very difficult time for many women. It can also be a very satisfying and exciting time. It can even consist of both of these types of feelings. The difficulties of pregnancy and childbirth can lead some women to fear it, in varying degrees. However, the satisfaction and promise of new life can lead them to long for it. Unfortunately, this can be a conundrum for some women, like myself. They fear pregnancy and/or childbirth, but long to have a child. Women who fear pregnancy may feel like something is wrong with them, they won’t be a good parent or something horrible is going to happen during their pregnancy. Obviously, severe anxiety can contribute to this. 

There are several things that can occur during pregnancy that lead many women to fear it. These things include hormonal changes, morning sickness, weight gain, fatigue and more. All of these things are perfectly natural, but they are changes, nonetheless, and any kind of change has the potential to be frightening. If you are pregnant for the first time, you don’t know what to expect of these changes. Of course, you hear horror stories about women that have terrible mood swings and eat pickles with peanut butter. You may ask yourself if you are you going to scream out loud in a grocery store or eat something that will make you sick. You never know, but the important thing is, it’s unlikely and, if it does happen, you’ll get through it.

During pregnancy, or even before it, a woman may begin to fear other things, such as, parenting or the child birthing process. Labor is called labor for a reason, but it is perfectly natural. It is also perfectly natural to be a little nervous or downright scared of it. Parenting is a life consuming process and a very important one, so it is also normal to be concerned about that. However, these fears can lead to an undue amount of stress during pregnancy. This is sometimes a problem. Some studies show that women who become afraid of the birthing process during the third trimester of their pregnancy may be more likely to require an emergency cesarean section. It is important to talk to your doctor about everything, both mental and physical, when you are pregnant.

Some women’s fear of pregnancy and/or childbirth can develop into a phobia. When your fears are debilitating and coupled with extreme anxiety, you may have developed a phobia. Fear of pregnancy and/or childbirth is known as tocophobia. Symptoms may include nausea, anxiety attacks, intense dread or a feeling of helplessness, among other things.

Thankfully, the fear of pregnancy is relatively common and it can be treated. Whether your fears are mild or debilitating, you should talk to your doctor about them. Exposure therapy or other cognitive behavioral therapies may be effective. Relaxation techniques can also be implemented to make you more comfortable with pregnancy, should you choose to have a child. Antianxiety medications and antidepressants can also be helpful, but if you decide to take medication, you may want to go that road before you conceive. Some of those types of medications aren’t recommended for pregnant women. Also, they take time to work and may be difficult to adjust to during pregnancy. As always, you should work with your doctor to find the best path for you.

It is important to bear in mind all of the positive things that will result from your pregnancy, if you experience any of the abovementioned fears. It is also important to have a healthy support group. Spend time around people who loved being pregnant or with people whom you feel very comfortable sharing your feelings with and feel safe around. Above all, be sure to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically, so that you may feel as comfortable as possible. Remember, sometimes being a great mother means being a little scared.

Sources

Ryding, El, Wijma K, Wijma B, Rydhstromlt, Fear of childbirth during pregnancy may increase the risk of emergency cesarean section, retrieved 1/20/10, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9654177