If you’ve been pregnant in the last year or so, you can agree it’s definitely a weird time to be pregnant. We are living through a global pandemic and there is so much unknown. Add how much unknown there is in pregnancy and entering motherhood and you can find yourself feeling overwhelmed and anxious. There are different layers that play a part as well, such as stress in your personal life, pre-existing traumas and perhaps like me, you’re pregnant after experiencing a loss. It can be all too much. Firstly, let’s take a deep breath, because even just typing all of that was a lot. Acknowledging rather than discrediting your feelings is so important.
There is nothing wrong with you if you are feeling anxiety or fearful. I know this varies on the scale for everyone, and while I am not a doctor, professional or therapist, I have walked through my own mental health journey for years and battlefield of the mind. This is something I have been open about on my platforms and there is nothing to be ashamed of. Pregnancy is already something that while it is a blessing, is still hard for many women physically and mentally, not to mention living in the most unprecedented times. I’m so grateful to be experiencing it, truly this baby gives me so much hope for the future and has been my JOY — but I know it also comes with fears, unknowns and yes, hormones.
It is totally valid and normal if you have those feelings. I encourage myself to lean in to them rather than run away, that way I know I have processed things instead of letting them arise at unexpected times which can manifest as random panic attacks. My goal in this pregnancy is not to do everything perfect, but I wanted my body to be a peaceful space for my baby to grow. Being mindful of my thoughts, tension built up in my muscles, not holding my breath (we can do that when we’re stressed) but breathing through and releasing what doesn’t serve baby or I. Saying prayers over her in my belly, deep breathing and speaking life. Those first few weeks of pregnancy, I held back from letting myself get too excited for fear of something bad happening again. Every ultrasound (even to this day to be honest) my heart quickens and I pray for a healthy baby. With each week I’ve had to release more and with each year she lives I know I will be required to do the same and so it has all been preparing me for what has been prepared for me. It’s worth mentioning that through trying to become a mother, I needed to mother myself. I’ve learned I also need to nurture and nourish myself spiritually, physically and mentally, just as I would for my baby girl.
Strengthening those muscles of trust and letting God be in control, with whatever His will may be. I know He has our best.
Therapy is Awesome.
In 2019, I began to see a Christian counsellor consistently to help me manage my anxiety and heal from past traumas. I was grateful I was already seeing a therapist when I experienced a miscarriage in the fall of that year because I had been equipped with tools to navigate that incredibly hard time in my life. I hesitated for years to sit down and talk with someone, and honestly I wish I had began sooner. I wonder what life in those years would have been like, instead of feeling like fear robbed so many great moments from me. I know now that you have to ultimately be ready in your own timing and God works it all out for our good. Therapy is not only for people who have a mental illness or something big going on, it’s a healthy, positive, safe space for you to work through your heart. Your feelings are valid. I know it can be an investment, but it truly is worth it. See what options are available for you through insurance, social services or your local church. Being able to touch base with my therapist, especially after becoming pregnant and talk through my fears and anxieties after my previous loss was exactly the support and help I needed. I am so grateful and I am a huge advocate for it, because it has given me so much of my life back!
Protect Your Peace.
I would argue it is even more of the time to be protective over your peace when you are pregnant because you have two hearts to care for now. Being mindful if something is upsetting you, whether that is a conversation, something you’re consuming (online or off) or toxic energy you need to step away. Guard your heart and fill your days with positivity and gratitude. This is especially important in the times we are living in friends. No-one knows what you carry all day long except you and it’s your job to advocate for yourself and mental health daily. I take breaks from social media, go for a walk when I’m feeling overwhelmed with being inside all day on lockdown, move and stretch my body to release any tension built up and set up boundaries for myself and others to honour what I need. This is really part of self care and there is no better time to practice that then when you are pregnant! Stress manifests very physically for me, so that is something I am mindful of and manage so that my body is not distressed, especially while I have a baby growing inside of it. Honour what you need through protecting yourself and your peace, however that looks for you. People may want to speak into your life or scare you about motherhood, or childbirth or pregnancy (sharing horror stories) and you need to kindly, respectfully and peacefully step back to protect yourself in those moments. Just because that was or is their experience, they don’t need to project that on you and that does not mean it will be yours. We all have our own unique experiences. So, if that means saying no, if that means clicking out of something that’s upsetting you, if that means going to take a nap when you feel drained even though you have a list of to-dos, do it! Take the nap, the list will still be there and you’ll have more energy to tackle it when you wake up.
From trying to conceive to pregnancy and entering motherhood, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is letting go. We want to grip so tightly on these things and how could we not? We have so many instincts and love and desire (all good things) but I am learning it’s going to be a lot of releasing and trusting. Worry doesn’t stop once you finally get pregnant, or finally give birth, but I don’t want to make it an idol in my life. I’ll always have worries that come up as I have children and watch them grow — what parent doesn’t!? What I’m trying to do is replace my worry with trust that He has got them in His hands, even long after I am gone. He will take care of them always.
My faith is what truly brings me the most peace. One thing my therapist suggested was for me to carve out time (same time each day) to journal and write out all of my worries. Get it all out. It’s this designated time I can release what’s swirling in my heart and head, even if I start to worry later on in the day, I’ll remember my surrender time is booked for the next day. So I write out all of my fears/worries/anxieties and then beside all of those she told me to write possible solutions (what is in my control) and surrender prayers (what is out of my control). Prayer is powerful, friends. I have seen it over and over – He hears and He cares. When I don’t have the answer or the solution, the best thing I can do is surrender it to Him. It brings me a lot of comfort. I trust that God designed my body to do this, He has trusted me with a life I am borrowing from Him. This life is His, just like my life is His also. I am not in control of any of it. Anytime I have planned it my way, it doesn’t work out as good as when I’ve surrendered something to God and I see the beauty in the way He did it.
I know I will need His strength and grace to carry me through this pregnancy, childbirth and mothering. Every single day I need it. I won’t try to do this in my own strength and if I do and I get weary, I will remind myself of His grace and open arms. Keeping my eyes on Jesus.
Peace and Grace,
2 responses to “Managing Anxiety in Pregnancy”
Amen, this is so good ! I’ve never experienced a pregnancy, yet these tips resonated with as and some are things I’m doing now. And I loved the term “surrender time.” Mine is first thing in the morning — but I’m going to start calling it that !
thank you for this. It was exactly what I needed to hear during my pregnancy!! I am currently 30 weeks and having a rough time, physically and mentally so thank you 🙏🏼. http://Www.Instagram.com/shanadebellis