For me, the anxiety during pregnancy usually starts with a thought. A “what if” that spirals into the worst possible scenario, the fear spreading through my body until it stuns me immobile. The other day it was in reaction to the news that my placenta was still covering my cervix.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had to reign in anxious thoughts during my pregnancy. And after chatting with a range of women for this podcast, I know these emotional challenges are something many of us share. According to Dr Nicole Highet, founder of COPE, the Centre of Perinatal Excellence, up to one in five women will experience anxiety during pregnancy and after birth, while up to one in 10 women will experience depression during pregnancy, increasing to one in seven after birth.
So, that’s what this episode is all about: the strategies that have helped us get through, the expert recommendations on what we can do, and how to recognise when we need extra help from the pros.
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In this podcast episode:
0:26 I talk about how the news that my placenta was still covering the exit at my latest scan (actual medical term: complete placenta previa) sent me down an anxiety spiral and what I did to shake myself out of it. Literally.
3:41 The incredible Caitlin Cady, author of the book Heavily Meditated and founder of the app of the same name, talks about why it’s totally natural to feel anxious during pregnancy and how to stop feeding the anxiety beast.
10:03 My friends share their own experiences with anxiety. Lucy talks about how she found it hard to allow herself to be happy during her pregnancy in case something went wrong. She learnt to deal with her anxiety by controlling what she could.
14:28 April constantly worried about the safety of her baby and went to therapy to get help. She learnt how to not indulge, what her therapist called, the “monkey brain”.
19:00 After experiencing a miscarriage, Josie worried that she would jinx her pregnancy but learnt to cope with some great advice from her dad (who happens to be a psychologist).
23:00 Clinical psychologist Dr Nicole Highet, founder of COPE: the Centre of Perinatal Excellence, explains why women may experience anxiety and other emotional challenges during and post pregnancy, and how to know when your anxiety or sadness has turned into a condition.
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Episode show notes
The best fact sheet I’ve found on the condition is this one from Westmead Hospital. And here’s an image that really shows why my husband Brad thinks our baby is wearing the placenta like a hat.
Support for loss
Dr Highet mentions a few great support organisations for those who’ve experienced loss. These are Red Nose, Sands and The Pink Elephants.
My favourites are Caitlin Cady’s Heavily Meditated, Insight Timer and Smiling Mind.
F*ck off, Frank
I mentioned that I interviewed Aussie singer Clare Bowditch who shared the valuable tip of giving those anxious thoughts a name, like Frank, so you can separate the thoughts from who you are. Here’s the Women’s Health podcast episode where she talks more about it.
Main image by Naomi August on Unsplash
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