Perinatal anxiety is anxiety that you experience during pregnancy (prenatal) or after giving birth (postnatal). A lot of people are more aware of the possibilities of developing postnatal depression but it is less known that many women experience anxiety too and it’s actually more common to experience depression and anxiety together.
The most common symptoms of perinatal/postnatal anxiety are:
- Having a fear of giving birth
- Having faster breathing
- Feeling light headed or dizzy
- Feeling tense and nervous
- Dwelling on negative experiences
- Fearing that the worst could happen
- Experiencing panic attacks
How can I help myself?
- Focus on your breathing – try to slow it down, breathing in through your nose for three seconds and then out through your mouth for five. Breathing is so simple but is often overlooked and can help you relax
- Try grounding techniques – these can help you regain control of the situation. Examples of grounding techniques are focusing on the sounds you can hear around you, reminding yourself of who you are, splashing water on your face and noticing how it feels, focusing on someone’s voice, or wiggling your fingers and toes to remind yourself that you are in control.
- Talk to someone – talking to someone you trust can help in itself, you might find that you just need to vent and be listened to
- Look after your physical health – get some more sleep, choose a healthier diet and do some exercise!
- Keep a diary – it might also help if you keep a diary of your experiences so you can look back at it, identify triggers and then be able to anticipate stressful situations and deal with them better
- Self-help – this includes resources (books, worksheets, online programmes) that are specially designed to help you manage your anxiety in your own time.
- Talking treatments – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) focuses on your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and teaches you how to recognise and overcome stressful situations.
- Medication – depending on your symptoms and experiences, you may also be offered medication. There are different drugs available and it is important that you discuss this with your doctor as you may need to try a few types to find what works best for you, especially if you are breastfeeding.