An Insider's Guide To Managing Perinatal Anxiety

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With figures suggesting that perinatal anxiety is an even bigger problem than postnatal depression and World Mental Health Day just around the corner, we sat down with TV presenter, counsellor and best-selling author of ‘Breaking Mad’, Anna Williamson, to get her top tips on managing anxiety and wellbeing for expectant mothers. 

Pregnancy can be a tough time not only physically, but also emotionally and mentally.  With peri-natal anxiety and depression on the rise in expecting mothers, recognising and taking care of yourself is key to being mentally well for both Mum and baby.

1. Check your mood – notice how you’re feeling each day and ask yourself ‘how am I today?’ and actually listen to the answer. If each day you are consistently feeling down or anxious, this may be a sign that something is not quite right and it may need addressing.

2. Tell someone – don’t bottle your feelings up!  Talk to someone you trust, your partner, a friend… let them know how you’re feeling and allow them to offer their support.

3. Be kind to yourself – It’s completely ok not to love being pregnant all the time, even most of it.  How you feel is how you feel, and that’s ok. Be gentle with yourself and don’t let feelings of guilt consume you. 

4. Be selfish – don’t feel you need to do anything you don’t fancy doing.  If you’re feeling tired and cranky and just want to stay indoors curled up on the couch – do! Your body is going through so much, so absolutely be selfish and say no to plans when you don’t feel your best. 

5. Eat well – it sounds obvious, after all you’re eating for 2, but don’t fall into the trap of scoffing too much cake.  Make sure you have a healthy balanced diet with lots of fresh veg and complex carbs like brown rice to keep you full and to avoid energy spikes and dips which can cause our mood and mental health to take a nose dive too.

6. Relax yourself – being pregnant can be a physically and mentally overwhelming time, allow yourself plenty of relaxation time, daily if you can, to just rest, listen to some chilled music or close your eyes for a power nap. 

7. Up and about – you might not be feeling like it, but exercise really is a fantastic mental health booster and providing you’re physically fit and well in your pregnancy, have a think about a daily walk, a low energy fitness class or perhaps a swim at your local pool.

8. Yoga – this is a fantastic class to sign up to in pregnancy, a chance to practice your breathing, to stretch your body safely, and to help bond with your baby in your tummy during the guided affirmations/meditation. 

9. Utilise your midwife – keep talking to your midwife and health professionals about how you’re feeling and finding pregnancy.  If you need more support, be brave and ask for it!

10. Focus on the good stuff – try to put any fears or concerns to one side each day, and allow yourself to think about what it might be like once your baby is here.  Planning and having a think about what help and support you might like and need can help you feel a little more reassured.

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