by Andy Mayer
“Many pregnant women are frightened because they believe they will experience unmanageable pain during labour and lose control in hospital”.Andy Mayer
Aching limbs, a tilted pelvis, indigestion, back ache, sleeping disruption, morning sickness, feeling tired and not fitting in your clothes and your social circles are stress enough. Add the preconditioned fears society provides us with about the birth process and bam kapow crash!
Studies show that prolonged anxiety and stress in a pregnant mother can restrict foetal development and increase stress hormones in amniotic fluid, increase the chance of a low birthweight infant, and can possibly result in a lower IQ in a baby. Long term stress can cause depression, body aches and even break teeth from jaw clenching due to anxious thoughts. These are pretty severe and even frightening implications . So what are these stressors and anxiety triggers.
- fear of birth
- fear of pregnancy complications
- fear of birth complications
- relationships with partners, other children and loved ones
- available support
- self image
Some people are predisposed to anxiety, depression and stress such as:
- A personal or family history of a mood disorder, such as depression or anxiety
- Being a young mother (under the age of 20)
- Having poor social support
- Living alone
- Experiencing marital conflict
- Being divorced, widowed, or separated
- Having experienced traumatic or stressful events in the past year
- Feeling ambivalent about being pregnant
- Pregnancy complications
- Having a low income
- Having more than three children
Working with a trained professional if you believe there is more at play than stress causing depression is important. Speak to your care provider immediately.
I would like to add my own stressors
- moving house
- moving countries
- birthing in a foreign country
- being in a new relationship and pregnant
- fearing birth due to pop culture and belief
- fearing parenting
- fearing loss of control
- fearing loss of identity
- losing a career or job
- life changing
What can help?
Focussed breathing techniques during pregnancy increases oxygen levels to the baby, significantly reduces anxiety, allows mum to grow a healthy baby and assists in all forms of pain management/avoidance from simple body aches to coping with contractions.
If you are feeling scared about birth, parenting or pregnancy consider taking some positive birth classes, learn about how to minimise pain and maximise enjoyment, downloading some relaxation tracks for pregnancy, having some hypnotherapy sessions, writing down the known fears and discussing how to minimise them.