Feeling anxious about certain situations is normal, especially throughout pregnancy, when many aspects of the body change. Alongside this, having a baby means changes to the family, which may induce some anxiety. However, if the worry significantly affects day-to-day activities and is excessive on most days then it could be an anxiety disorder that is being experienced.
Antenatal anxiety is basically anxiety during pregnancy, but it is important to know that anxiety can occur before pregnancy and after the baby is born. Symptoms include recurring worrying thoughts, panic attacks, feeling restless/irritable and feeling tense. Previous anxiety disorders may return or become worse during pregnancy, which is why any historical mental health disorders should be discussed with a healthcare professional, so they can provide support. These symptoms can often be overlooked as general symptoms of pregnancy; however, this is not the case if the anxious thoughts are hindering normal day-to-day activities. Sleep can be difficult to catch up on once having a baby, but it is always important to ensure that a healthy amount of sleep is maintained. Lack of sleep can antagonise the symptoms of anxiety, so any naps when the baby is sleeping will be much appreciated by your body!
Importantly, there are effective treatments available for antenatal anxiety, including cognitive behavioural therapy, more commonly known as CBT. This type of talking treatment can teach individuals coping skills for dealing with different problems, encompassing thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that can affect feelings and behaviours. Taking a moment to stop and challenge negative thinking patterns could enable future experiences to be less anxiety-provoking. Other treatments are available depending on the severity of the anxiety, but healthcare professionals are able to assess and suggest appropriate treatments/groups that could help. Antenatal classes can provide a space for expectant parents to get together and ask questions, as well as interacting with other parents-to-be where they can share any anxieties that may be felt. Often reaching out for help or advice can be the first step towards improving mental health, and you will be surprised at how many people want to help. Remember, you are not alone.