Worrying during pregnancy is completely normal. So much about pregnancy is unknown and out of your control (yet happening in your own body)! But when worrying takes over to the point you can’t focus on anything else and get through your day, it’s time to take control. Here’s how:
1. Acknowledge your worry– don’t brush it under the rug. Figure out what about the situation you can control, and (here’s the hard part) find a way to come to terms with what you can’t change. For instance, while you can’t un-take any medications or hot baths you took before you knew you were pregnant, you can make sure your health care providers have all the information they need and make good choices going forward. While you can’t control screening test results, you can learn everything you can about the tests and your choices so you’ll be prepared if your worst fears really do come true.
2. If it seems like you have a whole bunch of different fears, all the time, try to write them down as they happen. Don’t Google your fear before you get medical advice—you risk making matters worse by getting biased or inaccurate information, scary pictures or horror stories. It’s better to feel like you’re asking your doctor a silly question (or 10) than let a blur on the ultrasound have you convinced for weeks that your baby has extra hands. If you have a specific fear, like that your baby will be born with problems or about some condition you read about, tell your health care provider exactly what it is that you’re worried about and ask directly if you have any reason to be concerned. Even if you know that you don’t need to worry, sometimes it’s nice to have it extra-confirmed.
3. Steer clear of medical dramas or birth reality shows on TV, which boost their ratings by being as dramatic and alarming as possible. Instead, watch something totally unrelated to pregnancy.
4. Try daily moderate exercise—try swimming, walking or a pregnancy yoga class, which can provide healthful benefits and help clear your mind and release stress hormones at the same time. You don’t need to go to extremes, just a consistent 30 minutes a day of brisk walking or swimming will have great benefits for your mind and body.
5. Take a childbirth or parenting class. A class will give you a safe space to ask questions, talk to other parents and work through concerns.
Finally, if you just can’t stop thinking about scary things, talk to your health care provider. He or she can help you work through your fears and put them perspective, and help you find a therapist or other expert if necessary.