Emotional Health · Parenting · Pregnancy

Coping with stress and anxiety during & after pregnancy

Young adult with hand on head with stressed facial expression

Some stress and anxiety is common during pregnancy. When either become more severe and start to affect your thoughts, feelings and behaviour, it’s important to seek help.  The challenges or changes during and after pregnancy can increase the risk of stress and anxiety.

1 in 5 mothers experience anxiety and depression during pregnancy and postpartum.

Some symptoms of anxiety are:

  • Feeling fearful, scared or on edge
  • Excessive worry about your pregnancy or baby
  • Recurring thoughts about harming your baby
  • Excessively researching health issues online
  • Repeated behaviour, such as washing things over and over
  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Physical symptoms such as: sweating, stomach issues, heart pounding or beating fast, restless, feeling dizzy or light headed

There may be a higher risk for individuals who have had:

  • A history of mood struggles
  • Relationship problems
  • Recent stressful event (e.g. loss of a loved one, moving, traumatic birth)
  • Unrealistic expectations or high expectations of self or of others
  • Health concerns for your baby
  • Lack of social supports

Experiencing stress or anxiety does not mean you are weak or an unfit parent.

If you are experiencing any stress or anxiety during pregnancy or after birth, it is important to discuss this with your health care provider to determine the best treatment options.

Some tips to help cope with stress or anxiety are:

  • Talk to someone (friend, family, health professional)
  • Try to get your body moving (walking in nature or mall walking; turn on some music and walk or dance inside your home)
  • Mindfulness activities (meditation, hot showers, cold packs to the back of neck, deep breathing)
  • Sleep or relaxation (this can be challenging – try avoiding caffeine, electronic devices, listen to soft music or nature sounds)
  • Journaling – write down your thoughts, or things you are thankful for
  • Nutrition – eat foods that give you energy
  • Join a prenatal or parenting program

Toronto Public Health offers support to parents and families experiencing anxiety during and after pregnancy For more information, eChat with a Public Health Nurse or contact 416-338-7600.

Remember, you are not alone. There is help. You will get better.

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