This blog post was written in honor of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month by one of our Delfina Medical Group mental health experts, Jenny Shully.
This ain’t your grandma’s pregnancy. It’s 2023. There are apps and podcasts and online classes and TV shows that all center on concepts like relaxation, meditation, positive affirmations, and "living your best life." We are all supposed to know how to manage our own self-care, right?
However, the experience of pregnancy and the different fears and anxieties that accompany it may supersede all of these practices. How can a parent growing a child possibly contain their feelings when there are so many factors to consider? Fertility, infant loss, high-risk pregnancy, perinatal mood disorders, cost of healthcare, not to mention the systemic racism that impacts all of these issues—there are an overwhelming number of different circumstances that can lead to generalized pregnancy anxiety as well as deeper mood disorders.
So, what is there to do? There are five main tips that can help mitigate fear during pregnancy:
- Look at the facts. If you find yourself going down rabbit holes of all the “what if”s, consider the evidence. Is there factual information that has indicated a high-risk pregnancy? Do you have personal data that shows you the baby is doing anything other than perfectly ok? Grounding yourself in truth, objective truth, can be helpful.
- Activate your supports. Let those close to you know that you are struggling. There is no shame in admitting that pregnancy is not all rainbows and unicorns. Talk to your partner, family, friends, and medical providers and be transparent about what you’re experiencing. If you’re using the Delfina app, schedule a call with your Delfina Guide—there’s a reason all our Guides are trained doulas! More likely than not, you will be received with, “that’s totally normal”, “I felt that way too”, or “How can I support you?”
- Figure out what works for YOU. For some, yoga and meditation is the key. Others love water—showers, pools, etc. Some folks decompress by watching reality TV. There is no one “right” way to cope with challenging feelings. Experiment to see what works best for you and how it feels in your body. When does your body relax and your breathing change? What activity or experience leads to that feeling?
- Get off Google. We live in a time of information overload, which is a total double edged sword when it comes to pregnancy/parenting. If you have a question about pregnancy, call your care provider. Browse an app like Delfina Care that features OBGYN-approved educational content. If you need support from a therapist, ask your OB or midwife for a referral. Stick to these professionals who are here for you and let them do the legwork! You are not going to miss something crucial by ignoring the WebMD rabbit hole and calling the advice line instead.
- Picture your baby. Visualize a smooth delivery process. A tiny human in your arms. A cute baby at home. Think about the things you will do with this kiddo as they get bigger. Daydream about it! It’s exciting and joyful.
Welcoming a child into the world is a crazy, awesome, terrifying, wonderful, joyous, challenging experience. It would be weird NOT to have any trepidation about it, especially given our tendency as a culture to focus on the horror stories.
But you’re having a baby! It is truly miraculous. And we are so privileged to share that with you.