PREGNANCY, BIRTH AND POSTNATAL ANXIETY
For many, pregnancy can signify the start of huge anxiety, dread and panic. It can be a time filled with uncertainty, lack of control and feeling unsafe. A few reassurances from a scan or a midwife appointment doesn’t tend to hold, instead ruminations on all possible worst-case scenarios take over.
There are not only anxious thoughts to contend with, but the criticism and judgement women can direct towards themselves for experiencing these distressing thoughts and feelings, as well as a fear of being judged negatively by others too. Nine months of this can really take its toll.
The experience of anxiety in pregnancy is not about being ungrateful for the pregnancy or that the baby isn’t longed for or loved. It is the anxious brain that tries to protect and keep us and others safe going into overdrive, looking for all the dangers in its path. As our survival instinct is so important it tends to dominate, diluting any other thoughts and feelings that are present but hidden under all the worry.
It is our brain’s natural and primal design to notice threats and act in order to be safe, and it can be really effective when there are real direct dangers in the present. However, it isn’t so useful when the dangers are perceived, and no action needs to be taken. As the thoughts can feel dangerous the urge is to jump into action to fix something that just doesn’t need fixing. The response to fix and control can become a habitual pattern and a difficult one to break. But the good news is that our minds are highly capable of accepting new and more helpful ways to respond, through understanding, motivation, and with the right tools and practice.
It is highly likely that those struggling with anxiety have a tendency to be critical of oneself, craving perfectionism, control and certainty. It is also likely that they don’t value or prioritise time for relaxation or recognise all of their many strengths and resources. Increasing self-esteem is one of the many useful steps in building resilience, coping and confidence.
The Anxiety Reduction Programme can help reduce pregnancy anxiety by helping you:
- Understand why anxiety can increase in pregnancy and how it works in the brain and body.
- Learn how to reduce impact of anxiety on thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
- Change your relationship with feelings so they are not overwhelming and in control.
- Use mindfulness based techniques to help accept uncertainty, build acceptance and be more present.
- Learn coping strategies that work to reduce need for unhelpful responses such as avoidance.
- Suggestion and mental rehearsal using hypnotherapy to boost feelings of calmness and confidence and overcoming unconscious conflict.
The thought of giving birth can provoke feelings of dread and fear. The sharing of horror birth stories generally do not support a positive outlook. Likewise birth stories of ease, bliss and joy can equally feel overwhelming. Our natural search for answers can create more confusion as we crave certainty about what our own birth experience will be like. Unfortunately pregnancy is filled with not knowing, which can be very uncomfortable.
Support around birth fears aims to create more certainty in the areas in which are more predictable and helpful. It is aimed for those who struggle with anxiety, and therefore sessions are dedicated to coping with anxiety more effectively and building confidence.
The Anxiety Reduction Focused Programme will help reduce birth fears by providing:
- Techniques focused specifically on managing fear and enhancing relaxation in mind and body.
- Understand the mind and body connection and learn how to use it to your advantage.
- Learn relaxation techniques to reduce any physical or emotional discomfort.
- Enhance your feeling of control and confidence.
- Learn and practice powerful mental rehearsal and visualisation techniques to make changes on a subconscious level.
- HypnoBirthing resources and practices (based on Katherine Graves, KG Hypnobirthing training)
If you are interested in Antenatal or Hypnobirthing group classes then look no further than the team at ‘Happy Parents Happy Baby’, which provides all the antenatal education you need in one course, led by a team of experts including a midwife, obstetric doctor, paediatric doctor, infant feeding specialist and hypnobirthing teacher. Search for the courses at happyparentshappybaby.com
Becoming a parent can be a time of huge adjustment. From the change in role and daily routine to the change in the dynamic within close relationships.
Many of us feel most comfortable when we feel certain in what we are doing and capable in our role. Caring for a baby is a completely new challenge with lots to learn and lots of conflicting advice. However, if we treat ourselves with criticism and high expectations, we can experience feelings of failure and low self-esteem. It is important at this time to pause, process the changes and readjust expectations.
Postnatal anxiety can also be difficult to manage. The feelings of responsibility to keep ourselves and our baby safe can be overwhelming, and lead to constant checking , avoidance and requests for reassurance.
It can also be an emotional time where past traumas , loss and childhood experiences can be triggered. This can be difficult to manage and understand.
Men can also find adjustment a challenge. Many can feel pushed out and helpless. There is also the additional burden on providing a security and a stable future, creating a sense of loneliness and pressure.
Sessions offered can support women, men and couples in many of the difficulties described. These difficulties are common and you are not alone.
The Anxiety Reduction Programme can provide support with postnatal anxiety by helping you:
- Build identity, confidence and self esteem.
- Adjust expectations of how you thought life would be.
- Cope with uncomfortable feelings such as guilt, responsibility, resentment and anxiety.
- Improve communication and connection in relationship with your partner.
- Recognise what really drives you to boost motivation in taking action to achieve your goal
If you’d like to find out about more of any of our therapies and how they can benefit you, please send us a message, email or phone us.