Pregnancy is presumed to be this magical time for every mom. Anyone who has been pregnant knows this is generally not the case. Pregnancy is long, uncomfortable, messy and emotional. If you are a mom who suffers from anxiety pregnancy can get downright crazy.
With hormonal changes and the pressure of creating, growing and sustaining a little life that is living inside your body it’s no wonder that we are a little on edge. Sometimes, however, a little on edge can slip into something a little more. A little more serious. A little more stressful.
Anxiety suffers don’t just get a break from anxiety for the 9 months they are pregnant. In fact, anxiety symptoms can get worse during pregnancy.
For me, I am a sufferer of anxiety during my third pregnancy. I have had three very different experiences with my anxiety and how my doctors responded or didn’t respond in some cases to my situation.
This post is not meant to sway you one way or the other on what you should or should not do to control your anxiety during pregnancy. I am not a doctor, I am not offering medical advice. I am simply offering up my own experiences. I often find anxiety can make you feel alone because it seems that no one around you really gets what is going on.
I get it.
You are not crazy. You are not the only woman who has ever gone through pregnancy with anxiety. You are not the only woman who has ever had to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of starting an anxiety medication, stopping a medication, or staying on a medication during pregnancy.
There is no right or wrong answer here. There is no judgment here on what you decide is best for you and your baby. This is just me, another mom, in the same boat, sharing my story so you don’t feel like you are walking this path alone.
General Anxiety during Pregnancy with Baby number One
At this point in my life, I was really only dealing with general anxiety. Something I have had my whole life.
With my first pregnancy, I was not on any kind of medication and really didn’t feel too overwhelmed or anything.
I did a few irrational things like checking the toilet paper every single time I went pee to make sure there was no blood. But all in all my anxiety did not get any better or worse during this pregnancy.
Anxiety with No Medication during Pregnancy with Baby Number Two
This pregnancy with a total surprise. We had fertility treatments with our first and were told we would need medical intervention to get pregnant again. Our first daughter had also JUST finished her 6 rounds of Chemo for a rare liver cancer. There was no time to process any of that trauma before I was pregnant again
Later I would find out that I was suffering from PTSD with OCD related to that. I was so overwhelmed with fear over my 1st child and myself that I could not even focus on my new pregnancy. I was terrified that my daughters’ cancer would come back, I was terrified that every ache and pain was cancer in myself.
I was making specialist appointments and going to urgent care doctors quite frequently. I spent hours every day researching different kinds of rare cancers to see if I had any symptoms. I would have my husband check the inside of my mouth, feel invisible lumps in my neck and check my entire body for moles at least once a day.
I knew this behavior was not normal and tried to talk to my OB about it at every visit. I remember sitting in his office crying begging him to help me because I was barely functioning. His response was “Your first daughter is fine, you are fine and your baby is fine, stop worrying about it.”
Literally zero help.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, I decided to make an appointment with a Psychologist. He was the 1st person to actually listen to what I was feeling and thinking. Over a few visits, he gave me a diagnosis and prescribed an anxiety medication, which was safe for pregnancy he assured me.
I picked up my prescription and it advised that it could cause issues in the 3rd trimester, which of course freaked me out even though he had discussed this with me at our appointment. I decided to talk to my OB about it and he was adamant that I not take it until after I delivered.
Terrified of even more issues with postpartum depression I decided to suffer through the last few weeks of my pregnancy without the medication.
I literally took the first pill a few hours after delivering my daughter. It was such a relief to think that I might have something in my system to help me start being a normal person again within a few weeks.
I saw my Psychiatrist a few weeks after giving birth and he was horrified that my OB had treated the medication in that manner. It took a few more adjustments and adding a depression medication PLUS advising me to start seeing a therapist before I finally began to feel like I was coping with my anxiety.
Anxiety Medication during Pregnancy with Baby Number Three
Somehow my husband and I managed to get pregnant with another surprise baby. Apparently, no one ever told us where babies come from! In all honesty, though, he had a vasectomy appointment scheduled after our 2nd baby but we backed out because we just weren’t sure. I refuse to take birth control for several reasons but both of us were good with the “if it happens, it happens” mentality.
My major concern after finding out I was pregnant was finding an open-minded OB. I needed someone who would listen to my concerns about my anxiety because I had two little girls at home that I needed to take care of. I knew I could not do that if I had to come off my meds.
I literally prepared a speech, bullet-pointed and everything for my new OB on my first visit. She listened patiently before offering her own opinion. She advised that a substantial portion of her pregnant patients were on anxiety meds and as long as the benefits outweighed the risks she saw no reason for removing me from my meds.
The relief I felt was indescribable. Finally, someone who would listen to ME. Help me figure out what was best for MY situation!
With this pregnancy, I have been able to actually enjoy being pregnant. I have not really had any major issues with my anxiety. I did not feel that I needed to do any additional testing for fear that there might be something wrong with my baby.
I’ve not made any specialist appointments, any urgent care visits or even felt the need to talk to my OB about anything outside of just normal pregnancy things.
I am entirely comfortable with my decision to remain on my medications during this pregnancy. My OB and I discussed the possible complications that could happen, although rare, and even those complications were not severe. Seriously, just improbable, low impact, non-permanent risks to the baby. Things that had I had an OB who was open to the idea during my 2nd pregnancy I would have deemed underweighted my need to be on a medication to help my mental health.
So there you have it. Three pregnancies, three totally different experiences.
I honestly really regret that I missed so much of my second pregnancy. I was literally miserable the whole time, not excited about having another baby, felt tired, was in pain and emotionally alone the entire time. It was just a horrible experience.
This third pregnancy has been so much more enjoyable if any pregnancy can really be considered “enjoyable”!
I hope if you are pregnant and struggling with anxiety and aren’t sure which route to go, I hope my experiences help present the different choices you have.
Of course, there are other ways outside of medication that can help you during pregnancy as well. This post if not meant to say that medication is the only way or the best way for anyone and everyone. It is just meant to show that you DO have choices.
Doctors PRACTICE medicine. They are not all-knowing experts and if you don’t feel comfortable with the decisions your doctor is making in your pregnancy you have every right to seek out another provider!
Tell me about your pregnant with anxiety treatment experiences! I would love to hear what influenced your decision to take or not take medications while pregnant.