Anxiety is a normal and common reaction to stress.
When you feel anxious about a presentation at school, a job interview or a tense situation at the office, it often helps you stay focused and be prepared.
In the case of a high-risk pregnancy, however, anxiety stems from being stressed about a really scary situation that you don’t have a lot of control over.
What might have started as being worried about one test result has now turned into feeling anxious about all aspects of your pregnancy all the time.
It makes sense.
The reality is that by having a high-risk pregnancy the thought that you could lose your baby is at the forefront of your mind. That anxiety is keeping you vigilant so that you can react if something bad were to happen.
You’ve taken on the role of a watchdog. Watchdogs don’t let their guard down. They are always on the lookout. That’s what you’re doing.
However, many moms feel like being anxious helps them be prepared for anything to happen.
There are two problems with this though.
One is that you can never actually be prepared for everything. There’s no way to even be able to predict absolutely everything that could happen.
Anxiety has a tricky way of making us believe that we are in control when we really aren’t. (Tweet that!)
Secondly, long-term anxiety, which moms with high-risk pregnancies or with babies in the NICU feel, takes a toll on your body.
We can tell ourselves that we can handle it, that we are doing fine, that it’s no big deal.
Our bodies are paying the price whether we admit it or not.
Feeling anxious all the time affects how much you eat and sleep which in turn affects your mood, your relationships and your overall health. It affects all systems in your body including your heart, thyroid, digestion, breathing and your circulation.
High anxiety has also been linked to preterm contractions and preterm labor.
Emotionally, anxiety puts you at risk for developing emotional health issues like depression or anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum mood disorders as well as PTSD. (Tweet that!)
So it’s really important to get your anxiety under control even if it feels impossible to do so.
Here are some things you can do:
Talk to your doctor
Make sure you have a very clear understanding of what your complications are, what they know and what they don’t know. It will keep your imagination from filling in gaps that already have explanations.
Make a plan
Be prepared for the complications that you are aware of.
How will you get to the hospital during a work day? Who can you call if you need help right away? Put up phone numbers where you can easily access them if you need to call the doctor for an emergency.
Learn to keep your stress low.
Anxiety stems from stress so get to the source and lower your stress.
There are 3 powerful tips on how to do that, one of which has been proven by research to prolong pregnancy even when you’re having preterm contractions.
If you are able, get some exercise or get some fresh air regularly.
For more ideas on how to snap out of stress that are bed-rest and NICU friendly, grab my free guide.
Get support sooner rather than later.
Talk to friends, family members, your partner or another trusted confidante about how you’re feeling. Write your thoughts down in a journal.
And if none of that is helping or you would like some deeper 1-on-1 support, contact me and I’m happy to help.
You can do this even if it feels hard
As much as it feels like your anxiety is helping you stay prepared, it’s actually not. And in fact it is taking a toll on your body during an already precarious time.
Sometimes the anxiety feels comfortable and familiar and it feels hard to let go of.
But in learning how to manage it, you can feel calmer, think more clearly and enjoy the special moments you have with your little baby.
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