Pregnancy — the process of growing a whole new and unique human — is one of the biggest and most profound transitions women can experience. It is no wonder, really, that pregnancy can be stressful and frightening. No pregnant woman I've ever encountered has walked around on a proverbial pink cloud all the time. There are healthy worries and those that become so invasive that they are a sign something more is going on, however.
Worries During Pregnancy: Normal!
Will the baby be healthy? Please, don't let me have another miscarriage. How will we manage with a baby on our current income? Will my relationship survive this pregnancy? What kind of world am I bringing this baby into? Will I be a loving and competent parent? Will my older child resent the new baby? How will I ever pay for college?
Whatever your particular fears and worries are, it's totally normal to have them. If day-time worries aren't enough, pregnancy is also notorious for bringing weird dreams with it — a "feature", research suggests, that allows you to process your feelings about the big transition ahead.
Pregnancy marks the start of your long road as the parent of the incubating baby, and the worries you have now are merely some in an equally long line of those still to come. Worries and fears can help you cope with potential scenarios emotionally, and help you jump into positive action to alleviate them.
The Signs Of Prenatal Depression
Should those very normal fears and feelings surrounding pregnancy become so invasive that they dominate your daily life rather than consisting of passing thoughts, however, or should you be having chronic thoughts about things that are really not very likely to happen, you may be dealing with prenatal depression. Less talked-about than postpartum depression, it is a very real phenomenon.
If you have prenatal depression, you may experience, among other things:
- Persistent and invasive thoughts of worry, fear, or pessimism, generally centered on your baby's health and wellbeing.
- Panic attacks.
- Losing interest in activities you previously found meaningful and withdrawing from friends and family.
- Trouble concentrating.
- Thoughts of harming yourself and your baby, such as suicidal feelings, self harm, or substance abuse.
Experiencing these feelings and thoughts can then induce guilt about the thoughts and feelings — as if you needed that too, right? Prenatal depression is not your fault and nothing to be ashamed of, but if you do notice symptoms like the above, it is time for help (likewise nothing to be ashamed of!). Be aware that besides talk therapy, some antidepressants are indeed an option during pregnancy. Help is available, and how you are feeling now says nothing about the kind of parent you will be!
It is also, of course, possible to have other anxiety or depressive disorders during pregnancy. People with anxiety or depression who are trying to conceive can discuss their treatment plans once they do get pregnant with their practitioners in advance, ensuring they receive the best care they can while keeping their baby safe. For people who start experiencing anxiety during pregnancy, unsurprisingly more common if you are facing objectively stressful circumstances, it isn't too late to seek help either.
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