Pregnancy anxiety is not something that is mentioned regularly but it is something so many mums go through. There is a bit of a conspiracy that says we all have to glow and sail through pregnancy but that is not realistic. Everyone will have their bad days and some will be hit by perinatal illness.
Jo has kindly shared her story in the hope it will help other mums.
“Seeing those two lines appear on that fateful pregnancy test is the moment most women dream of, that moment you know that something special has begun and knowing deep down things won’t ever be the same again.
I remember that Sunday morning like it was yesterday and feeling that tingling in my tummy, after feeling seriously broody for quite some time and being a loving ‘ Auntie’ to my best friends two wonderful little boys, I was looking at a pregnancy test that said positive, my time had finally arrived.
I was lucky enough to escape the morning sickness, I had nausea but was never actually sick which made it easier to keep quiet at work, I remember thinking about the little secret I was carrying which was all going well till about 9 weeks into my pregnancy, looking back that’s when it started.
I was having the most awful cramping pains and tmi moment losing funny coloured discharge so my GP sent me to an Early pregnancy unit to check me out incase I was having a miscarriage, thankfully I wasn’t but from then I was never quite the same about my pregnancy .
Anxiety started to rear it’s rather ugly head and I became paranoid about everything, what I ate, what I used and I would check everything thoroughly. Although at the time I wasn’t noticing how much it was taking over apart from later on when I had been diagnosed, looking back sometimes it was ridiculous, I remember trawling the Internet searching for information all because I had eaten a small amount of a pesto pasta salad that had parmesan on and I didn’t realise until I’d eaten it and was terrified I’d hurt my baby or that I refused to take gaviscon to help with the horrific heartburn I suffered at the end of my pregnancy for the same reason.
It didn’t help that at the 20 week scan, the sonographer was concerned about his growth so I was referred for several growth scans.
Anxiety in pregnancy
I reluctantly told my work colleagues I was pregnant at around 15 weeks and I felt so guilty towards my unborn baby, he was so wanted and loved but I was just so terrified to tell anyone incase something happened to him, I hated not being in control of my emotions as deep down I knew this wasn’t me but I just couldn’t see any other way.
I was diagnosed with perinatal anxiety in the 2nd trimester of my pregnancy after my mum decided enough was enough. It was heart breaking because I so wanted to be that mum who was loving showing off her growing bump and looking around the shops for cute baby clothes, buying the pram set I’d researched and admired but it was such a struggle, I didn’t buy anything until the 8th month of my pregnancy because I truly believed that my baby would never become a reality, that something would happen during birth and I would never hold him, I was paranoid about his movements and had many visits to the antenatal baby clinic to check him out and thankfully each time he was and hearing his heartbeat soothed me for a while but then a simple comment from a colleague such as “ oh you have a lovely little bump” could send my thoughts into panic mode that my baby was too small and something was wrong.
At the booking in appointments, postnatal depression is spoken about and I was ready to look out for the signs as we have a family history of it, but I had never heard of anxiety during pregnancy. I think it should be discussed and more support given to those who suffer from it, I was offered drugs but because of my fears I refused to take them and i was also referred to a perinatal anxiety team but it really late in my pregnancy so I didn’t get the best out of the support, I think if I’d had the help earlier , it would have been easier to cope.
Looking forward positively
My son is 6 months old, healthy and developing well. Although the anxiety is still present, especially for the first few months of his life I was terrified about milestones because if he didn’t do something when all the books said that he was supposed to I was scared that he wouldn’t ever do it, as my very supportive health visitor and my mum said “he hasn’t read the books, he doesn’t know he’s supposed to be doing something and he isn’t the baby in the books” which is so very true because he’s reached them all in his own time.
I’m coping a lot better but new situations such as taking him to baby sensory classes are a little daunting but I really wish that the topic would be spoken about to help remove the stigma around mental health issues in pregnancy.”
You can read more of Jo’s story on her blog at www.midlandmummyuk.wordpress.com
Check out the film on the PANDAS Facebook page along with other useful posts on the signs, symptoms and treatment of pre and postnatal depression.
Get involved in the online conversation using hashtag #PNDAW17 and tagging @Pandas_UK in each post.