Being pregnant (especially for the first time) can keep your emotions on a nine-month roller coaster ride. You’re happy, excited, ready to burst from joy...and also incredibly anxious. Mix in a little bit of career stress, and figuring out how to manage anxiety during pregnancy at work can seem impossible.
Anxiety during pregnancy is common, with recent studies showing up to 20 percent of pregnant women will experience a mood or anxiety disorder. Learn how to recognize and manage the symptoms of pregnancy anxiety so you can focus on your career, relationships, and soon-to-be bundle of joy.
Symptoms of pregnancy anxiety
Symptoms of pregnancy anxiety vary for everyone (both in range and severity). If you suspect you’re suffering from bouts of anxiety, here’s what to look for:
A sense of anxiousness you can’t control
An excessive sense of worry, especially about your and/or your baby’s health
A consistent or recurring feeling of being irritable or agitated
Poor sleeping patterns or the inability to sleep along with not feeling refreshed after rest
Panic attacks, which could include symptoms such as a racing heart, feeling dizzy, chest pains, excessive sweating, difficulty breathing, and an overall sense of impending doom
Every pregnant woman’s anxiety symptoms are unique. Speaking with your health professional is the best way to confirm any suspicions surrounding anxiety or panic attacks.
Facing an anxiety diagnosis
While there are risk factors that can make an anxiety diagnosis during pregnancy more likely, including a family history of anxiety, a personal history of anxiety or mental health conditions, and prior trauma (especially during a previous pregnancy), pregnancy-related anxiety can pop up anytime during a woman’s 40 weeks of gestation.
For some women, pregnancy anxiety is part of their unique package of pregnancy-related symptoms, just like a sore back and swollen ankles. Dealing with any sort of pregnancy symptom at work can add more to your overflowing plate (not ideal when it comes to anxiety).
That’s not to say your excessive worrying is destined to stick around forever. But it is important to note that while many health professionals acknowledge the “baby blues” as temporary negative emotions, postpartum depression and anxiety take a little more effort to manage.
Luckily, there are plenty of tips for managing anxiety during pregnancy that can be applied to both personally and professionally.
Tips for managing pregnancy anxiety
Anxiety during pregnancy is tough no matter what. But adding in the day-to-day stresses of team meetings, project collaborations, and tight deadlines can make anxiety levels soar. Here are some of our best tips for managing anxiety during pregnancy while working.
Talk about it
You don’t have to face your anxiety alone. Tell your partner, family, friends, and coworkers if you feel comfortable doing so. Don’t underestimate the power of therapy for anxiety either. While only a third of anxiety sufferers seek professional help via a therapist or psychologist, anxiety is considered highly treatable.
Tell your boss
It’s also important to inform your boss of your anxiety diagnosis and how it’s affecting your work performance. Let them know what type of support you’re receiving and how they can help. You may be surprised at just how willing they are to alleviate some of your pain points (and don’t worry—as long as your boss is aware of your anxiety disorder, you can’t be fired because of it).
Release the tension
Find time before, during, or after work to decompress and release anxiety-related tension. Try meditation, deep breathing exercises, or a walk during lunch. After work, schedule a prenatal massage or a pregnancy yoga class. Give yourself enough time in the morning to get ready (including eating a proper breakfast) and to mentally prepare for the day. Setting aside a few minutes a day to focus on your own well-being might not erase your anxiety symptoms entirely but can make them easier to manage.
Not every pregnant woman has the option to reduce their working hours, and not every pregnant woman wants to. But if there’s an area in your life where you can lessen your load of the responsibility, be it at work or at home, you may want to consider a change.
Very few health care providers will suggest medication as the first option for treating an anxiety disorder if you’re pregnant. Exploring self-help methods is often considered a safer treatment option. But if your pregnancy-related anxiety has made it truly difficult to get through each day, medication may be the best option. However, make sure your health care provider goes over any associated risks or concerns, and don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion for reassurance.
Pregnancy is an amazing experience, but it’s not always easy. And if anxiety during pregnancy is making it difficult to work or maintain a positive perspective, please know that you’re not alone.
The sooner you reach out for help, the sooner you can start treating your anxiety and embrace all the joy your bump can bring.