Ask a counsellor: Why am I so anxious about having my baby?

Ask a counsellor: Why am I so anxious about having my baby?

The problem…

“I’m the mother of two healthy young children – a boy, four, and a girl, almost two – and now expecting my third child. My previous two were very easy deliveries, but something about this one is really scaring me.

“I have had all the usual preliminary tests and my doctor, the ante-natal clinic and the midwife I’ve seen have all tried to reassure me that everything is fine. I just can’t shake the feeling though, that something is wrong. I have been having bouts of real panic where my heart is going 19-to-the-dozen and I can’t breathe.

“It’s worrying me that this may be affecting the baby, but nobody seems to be taking my fears seriously. Not even my husband, who just tells me to relax and that everything will be fine – but I can’t! What’s wrong with me?”

(iStock/PA)
(iStock/PA)

Fiona says…

“I’m surprised that no one is taking your anxiety seriously, because it’s obviously very real to you. I’m not a doctor, nor have I seen you or examined you – as they have – so I cannot tell you if anything is wrong with your pregnancy or not. However, I can think of a number of reasons why this pregnancy might be making you so anxious.

“Firstly, the changes in your hormone balance can trigger all kinds of problems, and I’m surprised no one has suggested this as a very minimum.

On top of that, think back to your last pregnancy. Did you, by any chance, suffer from post-natal depression at all and if so, was this treated at the time? It might have been mild, and it might have passed, but being pregnant again could have reawakened the anxiety, especially if it wasn’t dealt with.

“Thirdly, you now have two children! That may seem obvious but, when you have two little people depending on you, you become much more aware of your responsibilities. Those responsibilities include being there and being available to those little people. Anything that could, potentially, take you away from them becomes a threat, so fears and phobias will, potentially increase.

“You know, now, how important you are to your children – you know that they would suffer if anything happened to you. That might not have impacted on you as strongly before as it does now they are beginning to get a little older.

I – for example – never used to worry about heights, but once I had two small children to take care of, I became paranoid about being near any ledges much higher than a curb!

“Having a baby – even a third one – is not something to be taken lightly, so I am not surprised that, on this occasion, you are feeling apprehensive. It’s quite possible that you’re anxious about the prospect of managing three small children. That may be the physical act of coping, on a day-to-day basis or it may be anxiety about the financial implications.

“Please don’t think I’m implying there is anything wrong with your relationship, but is there something in your husband’s attitude that gives you cause for concern? Like the medical professionals, he is dismissing your fears – do you perhaps worry that he’s not being more supportive?

“If it’s any consolation, you are not alone. About one woman in eight experiences depression or anxiety at some point during their pregnancy and it can be a time when women experience mental health issues for the first time.

A support group, like the National Childbirth Trust, for example, could help you. Talking to others going through the same range of emotions can be valuable – and to help with stress you could consider joining a pregnancy yoga group.

“Finally, talk to your GP again about your feelings – you need to be taken seriously!”

:: If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to help@askfiona.net for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

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