Pregnancy, whether planned or unplanned, can be a very stressful time for the pregnant woman, her partner, surrounding family and existing children. Some of the frequent concerns that arise during pregnancy and give rise to stress are as follows:
- Relationships with family, friends and partners
- Financial concerns
- Health, nutritional and eating disorders
- Life changing issues
- Hormonal shifts and mental health
Rather than suffer through negative feelings that are building up, it is far better to enjoy a stress-free pregnancy, better for your health and the health of your baby. One of the ways that you can enjoy a stress-free pregnancy is by getting pregnancy counseling when issues arise. And you can click here to find out more.
Stress, Anxiety And Tensions Can Hurt You And Your Baby
Studies have shown that pregnant woman with clinical anxiety are more likely to suffer postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and greater physical ailments during pregnancy. They have a higher incidence of post-traumatic stress symptoms following child birth. High levels of stress and anxiety during pregnancy have multiple risks:
- greater tendency toward premature birth
- lower Apgar scores
- low birth weight
Anxiety, heightened tension and stress are normal occurrences during pregnancy. When managing the underlying issues becomes impossible and your the doctor recommends serious action, you are beyond the boundaries of normal maladies.
A counselor can help deal with stresses and frustrations before they become overwhelming and immediate clinical intervention. A counselor can provide techniques for coping and relaxing before the issues become insurmountable. When you relax your baby feels your release of tension and will relax too. Couples find pregnancy counseling effective to address stresses that build up and can become out of control often as a result of a misaligned expectations. In some instances a wife might feel she had already changed to address new upcoming responsibilities or the husband wanted to enjoy the remaining childless time with his wife.
Several approaches have been successful in treating severe clinical anxiety and stress during pregnancy:
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) in at least one study has been a successful treatment during pregnancy. This is a form of psychotherapy for treating anxiety-driven behaviors and negative thinking that lead to self-destructive activities.
- Psychopharmacology or prescription medication including psychotropics can be an option.
- Psych-education in counseling and managing the anxiety producing symptoms through education has proven helpful to pregnant women.
Treatment for anxiety disorders using benzodiazepines has reduced anxiety symptoms, but some medications are risky for the fetus. Panic disorders, claustrophobia, OCD, (GAD) General Anxiety Disorder are not uncommon stress related disorders that can be treated with medications.
CBT has been successful in the treatment of anxiety disorders but there have been few studies specifically with pregnant women. There is some evidence that pregnancy may exacerbate stress through a physiological mechanism. The pregnant woman suffering extreme stress and anxiety may have thoughts of a catastrophic delivery, nightmares are not uncommon and panic attacks can come on as a result of elevated breathing.
Other Methods For Reducing Stress
Under normal circumstances of pregnancy that have not reached neurosis or psychosis, there are many ways to address normal but uncomfortable stress.
- Exercise is a great stress reducer. Pregnancy is not a time to avoid exercise unless your doctor has told you otherwise. It can be a great time to stretch, breathe and do yoga.
- Swimming is great when pregnant.
- Talk about it with your husband and family if something is bothering you.
- Meditate or sit quietly and slow your breathing.
- Eat well and eat foods that diminish or minimize stress. Serotonin is released in warm milk and relaxes the body.