Overcoming early pregnancy jitters
Take these steps to reduce anxiety during the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Early pregnancy can be a roller coaster ride and full of both anxiety and excitement. I had forgotten how much anxiety this time holds until a recent positive pregnancy test. Immediately I was excited and planning for the future, yet hesitant to get too excited “just in case…” As a midwife, I have often said the wait from the two lines on the stick to feeling the first kicks can seem so agonizingly long. Here are some suggestions for reducing the anxiety during the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Connect with your body. There are so many incredible changes happening so quickly that sometimes it’s helpful to step back and appreciate the work that your body is doing right now. Any pregnancy symptoms you may be experiencing are a reflection of the amazing process taking place in your body. Some women may choose to connect with their bodies through yoga, prayer, meditation or exercise.
Optimize your health. Start taking a daily prenatal vitamin and DHA. The folic acid in prenatal vitamins reduces the risk for certain kinds of birth defects and helps fill in the gaps in nutrition for days when morning sickness or food aversions limit what you are able to eat. DHA has been shown in animal studies to promote brain and eye development. Drink plenty of water, even though in early pregnancy many women feel like their bladder capacity is that of a thimble! Limit caffeine, which in high doses may increase the risk of miscarriage. If you aren’t already exercising try going for a walk, bike ride or swim a few days a week. Eliminate smoking or alcohol use to prevent negative effects on baby.
Recognize the normal. By the time the pregnancy test is positive your body has already accomplished so much. While pregnancy loss is unfortunate and does happen, in the vast majority of cases it is also unpreventable. It’s easy to say to try not to obsess, but sometimes focusing on the normal and staying distracted (and staying off the Internet!) can help reduce the fear. Journaling about any fears or concerns or confiding in a close friend can be therapeutic for some women as well.
Announce the pregnancy when you are ready. Traditionally, women have waited until the end of the first trimester to publicly announce their pregnancies, as miscarriage rates are lower after this time. Recently more women are making their pregnancies known earlier with the thought that they want the support from family and friends no matter what the outcome may be. Whatever timing is right for you is the best timing.
Make an appointment with your midwife or physician. This can serve as a distraction (and give you something to look forward to!) as well as give you a resource for questions or concerns that you might have during the first weeks of pregnancy. Be aware that many offices schedule the first appointment after eight weeks.
Congratulations on your early pregnancy! It can be a wild and hormonal ride, but it’s also an opportunity to appreciate the miracle of how two single cells can grow into a complete person in only 40 weeks.
Bethany Sanders is a certified nurse midwife and cares for women at the West End Women’s Health Center and Cole Family Practice. While originally from the Midwest, she is thrilled to have called the South home since graduating Vanderbilt in 2006. When not attending births or measuring pregnant bellies she can be found at the local park chasing around her two young children and discussing babywearing, cloth diapers and breastfeeding.
For more on the first trimester, check out this post of first trimester tests to expect.
Expecting or considering having a baby? Know all your pregnancy care options available through Vanderbilt Women’s Health.