The physical and emotional aspects of pregnancy occur on a spectrum ranging from elation and pleasure to anxiety and discomfort, often embodying contradictory sensations at the same time. Anxiety has a way of creeping into even the most blissful moments and can affect the choices someone embraces, the way a person views their upcoming birth, and the ease with which they move through pregnancy.
According to a study in the Journal of Affective Disorders, as many as 20% of people experience antenatal depression and anxiety, with the incidence of anxiety rising in pregnancy. (This number, however, is difficult to use as a true guideline as it is suspected that antenatal depression is one of the most under-diagnosed and under-treated conditions.) These feelings can occur as a result of many factors including but not limited to bodily changes, shifts in physical ability, fear of loss, unanticipated complications, financial concerns, and hormonal changes that affect chemical release in the brain. High levels of anxiety are associated with increased likelihood of preterm birth, preeclampsia, and low birth weight as well as stalls in labor and distress during birth. Managing stressors and decreasing feelings of anxiousness may not only benefit one’s own daily life but can quite literally benefit the labor process and the baby too.
Pregnancy offers a unique opportunity to explore reactions to the world, to grow as a person, and to impact the long-term health oneself and their child. Recognizing areas in which one can take control and create calm is one of the first steps in embracing an empowered childbearing experience.
As the Philadelphia birth world blooms bigger and brighter, I think it's time I start putting some of the insightful questions I've received and information I've research into a public journal. I hope you'll find this inspiring, empowering, and totally enjoyable.