Guest post by Susan Long
My baby would be better off without me as its mother. I am going to be the worst mother in the world. I am the only woman in history who can’t cope with this. So, if I’m feeling like this, and you’re feeling like this, then it can’t be true!
It turns out it isn’t. It’s just your mind playing horrible tricks on you. Pre-natal depression and anxiety is extremely upsetting and has far less recognition and support than its sister post partum depression.
I remember sitting on my bed sobbing because I was pregnant so I couldn’t kill myself. At the time, it seemed like a terrible truth to have to face, but in fact, it was a sign that I loved my baby and had, underneath all the fears and desperation, a real sense of hope for my child.
Some women get it because they didn’t plan to become pregnant, some get it because they’ve had trouble becoming or staying pregnant and they’re terrified, some women get it because their pregnancy coincides with a terrible life event and some women just get it. In fact, no matter how alone you may feel, reports indicate that one in ten pregnant women will experience anxiety and depression in some form.
There are plenty of things you can do to reduce and sometimes even stop the symptoms, but you should always talk to your doctor first. There are plenty of drugs on the market that are currently believed to be safe for your baby, but, make sure you find out about all the side effects for both you and your baby. While you may be feeling better in a few weeks, your baby may require an extra week in hospital where s/he goes through a difficult withdrawal period.
Anxiety and pregnancy tips
I decided against prescription drugs and thought I would share some things that worked for me:
1. Deep, slow breathing. When you feel that overwhelmed feeling and you think there is a crying bout coming, try thinking of something nice and taking long, slow deep breaths. I know, it sounds easier said than done but with practice, it gets easier.
2. Eat well, get out for a walk every day, and if you can, sleep well. I was so tired from the pregnancy that I only managed a walk a couple of times a week, but felt notably better on those days. As for sleeping well, I had 2 o’clock in the morning sickness for three months – so I found a nice cup of hot milk and a chapter of a good novel helped put me back to bed.
3. Use relaxation music and exercises. Sure, you feel a bit silly at first, but with some practice, you’ll learn to relax your muscles and empty your mind of worries. I found this especially hard as I have always had trouble clearing my mind of worries. Don’t worry if you don’t get it straight away, it took me ages!
4. Start interacting with your baby. Name him and start talking to him as if he can hear and understand you. When you talk about the baby, called him by name. Although it sounds a bit mental, this worked tremendously well as I started seeing him as a separate and very real person. It allowed me to move my focus off my own bad feelings and onto him.
5. Watch other mothers in a variety of situations and imagine how you and your baby would interact in the same situation. Imagine cuddling your baby, pushing him on a swing, walking him to school.
6. Celebrate your pregnancy. OK, so you can’t exactly have a bottle of Moet and a night on the town, but you can splurge a little on cute baby clothes or a massage or if you have a partner, a romantic dinner. Remember, there are good bits about pregnancy too – you will find that shop assistants will start fussing over you, people will let you go ahead of them in lines, orgasms can get exponentially better and you’ll never stand on public transport. Remember that even though these are small luxuries, they can make a real difference to your day!
7. Find a happy fantasy. Whether it is about your baby’s future or something completely unrelated, find something that really pleases you to think about. When you start to feel overwhelmed by worries or bad thoughts, switch to your little fantasy….. There’s nothing like going from “I don’t have enough money!!!!!!!…. to a nice Caribbean Island with a nice Caribbean man with lovely Caribbean rum and rippling Caribbean muscles….anyway…..
8. Spend time with your pets if you have any. Dogs and cats can be very in tune with your feelings and may be happy to offer endless cuddles and even a bit of silly play to cheer you up. If you don’t have pets, spend some time with your hobbies – computer games, movies and sport can offer a nice distraction.
Like they all say, it’ll get better – the last thing you want to hear but the only thing to cling to and many women notice a calm come over them in the last trimester so you might just find it comes to a sudden stop. Even if things don’t seem to improve during your pregnancy or after the baby is born, it’s important to hold on and know that your feelings of anxiety will not last forever and that there is plenty of help available if you are willing to ask for it.
Susan Long is now a happy mum of a beautiful bub. It was a long journey but both came out healthy and happy.
Pregnant and suffering from panic attacks and don’t want to take medication? Get the Panic Away Program. It is a lifesaver- and will help you right away…