This is a guest post from Ava user Kala Rath, who struggled with infertility for five years before becoming pregnant with twin girls!
How to relieve anxiety during pregnancy
Anxiety during pregnancy is common, especially if you have spent years dealing with infertility as I did. It robs you of peace, joy, and even bonding with your baby. If I am being completely honest, I didn’t start to feel bonded with my twin girls until the end of the first trimester, and even then, I felt cautious about letting myself get too attached.
I felt like I was constantly waiting for the worst case scenario, and so afraid to bond that it made me feel like a horrible mom. I remember shaking and crying in pure panic in the lobby of the doctor’s office for every appointment and ultrasound throughout the entire first trimester and into the second. There is no way to avoid the anxiety completely, but I can share some of the things that worked best for me.
1. Be picky about where you spend your time online
If you come from a long history of infertility, you are probably a part of many Facebook groups or online forums surrounding infertility support. These communities are invaluable when you are trying to get pregnant. However, once you become pregnant they can be toxic to your mental health.
I felt guilty for even feeling this way but I had to unfollow and remove myself from most of the communities. There was so many posts about miscarriage and loss and the constant worst case scenarios that it consumed me. While I understand that those stories belong to someone, and while my heart hurt for those people, hearing those stories every day was causing me a lot of stress and taking a big physical and emotional toll on me.
Every story, every struggle and every journey of pregnancy is different. Just because something bad happened to someone you know from the internet DOES NOT mean it will happen to you. Don’t be afraid or feel guilty if you need to take a break from these groups for a while. Remember that you are the one responsible for finding happiness and peace while you are pregnant.
2. Find a doctor and clinic you trust
I cannot stress the importance of having a doctor who you trust and who makes you feel safe. Don’t be afraid to switch doctors or clinics if you don’t feel your doctor is meeting your needs. You should feel comfortable asking questions and calling about concerns in between appointments. If you ever feel that your doctor is dismissive or condescending, consider finding another doctor. There is no greater value than being able to trust the medical professional that is caring for you and your unborn baby you are growing.
3. If the doctor isn’t worried, you don’t need to worry either
Your body is going through so many changes during pregnancy. Every single day is different! You may have a million nagging questions that you forget to ask during your doctor appointment. Then, three hours after you get home, you start overanalyzing every word she said and wondering if there is anything possible for you to worry about.
One thing that I kept having to remind myself was that if the doctor isn’t worried, I don’t need to be either. Doctors aren’t there to sugar coat anything or make you feel good. They are there for the health of you and your baby(ies).
4. Think hard about whether to get a fetal doppler
I know that at-home fetal dopplers are controversial. I think only you can answer if this is something that will ease or add to your anxiety.
I personally couldn’t live without mine, though there were times it exacerbated my anxiety because I couldn’t find the heartbeat. Turns out, I just wasn’t very good at playing doctor. When you can actually hear your babe’s heartbeat will depend on if you have anterior/posterior placenta, how far along you are, your babe’s position, your size, and just knowing where your baby is.
The first day I got my doppler I spent over an hour trying to find a heartbeat with no success. I was devastated and just hoping it was user error. After consulting a few internet friends, I decided it was best to put the doppler away for a couple of weeks and try again when I was a little bit further along.
Once you find your baby for the first time, the heartbeat can generally be found in the same spot again. However, don’t be alarmed if you don’t find it, because babies move—a lot! If this is something that will stress you more than relax you, don’t use it! Only you can really answer if that is something that would help ease your fears or not.
5. Know that it’s normal for symptoms to come and go
Despite the fact that the internet often says one of the symptoms of miscarriage is the disappearance of pregnancy symptoms, most of the time this is just something that happens during pregnancy. Sore boobs was one of my strongest early symptoms and I remember one day around seven weeks pregnant, I noticed with much dismay that my boobs didn’t hurt AT ALL. I was in total hysteria. A day or so later, the soreness would return but not as bad as it was originally.
From talking with friends, I know it’s really common for morning sickness to start and stop as well. This can be very scary, but most of the time, it’s nothing to worry about.
ALL of my symptoms seemed to do this. And the whole time I was freaking out, my babies were growing right on track, as if nothing was wrong—because it wasn’t!
6. Don’t freak out if your baby is less active some days
Once you start to feel the baby move it’s the best thing ever! It gave me so much reassurance that my babies were still there and doing okay.
However, during those first few weeks of feeling the baby move, you may notice days where the baby is super active for a couple days in a row followed by a day of barely any movement at all. This is normal and okay. Most doctors don’t even have you evaluate baby movement until you are 28 weeks.
If you are carrying multiples like me, the doctor said not to even worry with kick counting because it can be so stressful and difficult. Just try to be aware of their movement and if there is any cause for concern, just to call.
While all of these are things that have helped me get through my pregnancy, everyone is different. Trust your gut. If at any point you feel concerned and need reassurance, call your doctor. Find your own routines and little things that bring you happiness whether it be a warm bath, dark chocolate and a root beer, or even working out. Find your happy routine and exercise it often.