#56 Anxiety in Pregnancy

Going into pregnancy expecting to have no anxiety at all would be unrealistic.

I would say that most women, 90 percent or more, experience some anxiety around pregnancy, although the causes of the anxiety may vary over the course of the pregnancy. For example, in the beginning, most women would have anxiety around delivery because they know that’s going to happen one way or another. There are, however, other reasons for anxiety that can arise during pregnancy. For example, you can have abnormal screening tests, your blood pressure may go up, or you may develop preeclampsia. Many women will also worry about the amount of fetal movement they feel, and this worry is indeed not without with justification.

Excessive anxiety does have a negative effect on your pregnancy, so you and your physician need to figure out whether your concerns are normal, or whether your anxiety level interferes with your ability to lead a normal life during your pregnancy.

First time moms enter pregnancy with little previous experience or knowledge of pregnancy. They will worry about the one thing they know for certain is going to happen—labor and delivery. This is certainly a legitimate concern. There are many choices to be made in the course of any pregnancy, and all these choices will come to a head in labor and delivery.

Women who have had a previous miscarriage have a lot to worry about. In theory, first trimester miscarriages are common and if you count the miscarriages that occur before or around the time of the first missed period, you would be looking at about 40 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. When you understand all of the things that must happen right to have a normal baby, it is indeed a miracle every time a pregnancy and delivery turns out normal. So, even though reassurances about having a normal term baby may ring hollow to someone who has had a miscarriage, sending and receiving that message is important to women who are pregnant after a miscarriage.

Then comes the complicated conversation about possible causes of the miscarriage. We used to delay infertility work-ups until a woman had three early, consecutive spontaneous pregnancy losses. In my experience, this is adding insult to injury. I believe that a real discussion needs to occur even after one pregnancy loss, particularly if it is after you have a normal fetal heartbeat at 11 or 12 weeks. My advice to anyone having a miscarriage is to seek all possible causes with the help of your physician.

I had many patients come to see me who had had previous pregnancy losses, many of them due to previous infections. During the 1980s and 1990s, infections were not often viewed as a cause of miscarriage. However, for unknown reasons, some women will carry a baby successfully even if they have Strep B. Others will not. Some infections are very common. Ureaplasma and microplasma are so common that they are considered to be “colonizers,” that is, the bacteria is present in most people but considered benign. Again, for unknown reasons, these colonizing bacteria appeared to be able to interfere with the pregnancies of some women. I found that when I treated the common infections in women who miscarried, most of these patients went from having a previous stillborn to delivering living babies, although not everyone carried their babies 40 weeks.

Stress and anxiety are never helpful to a pregnancy. If you have had a previous miscarriage, your anxiety level may well be higher than normal. If you feel overly anxious, discuss your feelings with your physician.Stress can be associated with babies which are small for gestational age, depression, suicide and even homicide. I strongly recommend excessive anxiety in pregnancy be treated effectively whether it’s by antidepressant medication’s, antianxiety medications, counseling, or all three.

If you are having trouble with anxiety in your pregnancy, you might find my Etsy printable Pregnant and Afraid might help ease your concerns over your pregnancy.