If you’ve suffered a miscarriage and/or have struggled with infertility for years, becoming pregnant may be the greatest blessing of your life. But, it can also be terrifying.
Early pregnancy especially, can be filled with anxiety and worries about the potential for another miscarriage. Even if you’ve never had a miscarriage but you’ve suffered from infertility, you might be scared because you thought you weren’t capable of it and you worry something will happen.
In this post I’m going to talk about why fear is completely normal and what to do about it- so you aren’t a basket-case your entire pregnancy.
Check out all my posts on pregnancy here.
Anxiety in Pregnancy after Miscarriage – My Story
Is it normal to be scared of pregnancy after miscarriage?
If you’ve experienced a loss, research shows you will probably experience some amount of anxiety in subsequent pregnancies. It doesn’t really matter if it was a chemical pregnancy, early miscarriage, later pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or even infant loss. All of these can lead to fear and anxiety in your next pregnancy.
After experiencing recurrentearly miscarriage, I was pretty much nervous every day of my miracle pregnancy until I reached about 26 weeks (the point at which 90% of babies born are viable). I also had cramping (sometimes intense) through the end of month 6 (apparently this is normal for some women), so I regularly experienced anxiety about miscarrying.
For me, this fear manifest itself in a number of ways.
First, for about the first 4 months of my pregnancy I was scared every time I went to the bathroom that there would be blood on the tissue.
Second, we were terrified to have sex.
Third, I rushed to the doctor with any sign of ANYTHING.
Fourth, I obsessively googled and always had to have my doctor check to make sure nothing was wrong (i.e., “Are you sure the cervix isn’t shortening? Can you give me the exact length?”).
Fifth- I was terrified when either I’d stop having symptoms for a day (earlier in the pregnancy), or when I wouldn’t feel the baby move (later in the pregnancy).
I worked very, very hard to manage all this anxiety. I meditated every day, I visualized, and I practiced an array of self-care techniques to try to manage this stress.
I still had joy, excitement, and happiness throughout, they were just peppered with the fear. In general, I would say that I loved being pregnant, but that the fears would pop up frequently.
In the end, I really enjoyed most of my final trimester- with the occasional pang of fear – and delivered a beautiful healthy boy. I didn’t suffer from post-partum depression, although I suspect I suffered from undiagnosed post-partum anxiety.
As a side note- I was much more relaxed in my second pregnant. I had high anxiety during my first trimester when I had a lot of bleeding/spotting, but after that resolved, I did not struggle with anxiety.
You don’t want anxiety to rule your pregnancy
Unfortunately for some women, the anxiety and fear take over their pregnancy and they never manage to feel that joy, excitement and happiness. Some even become clinically depressed or anxious DURING the pregnancy, which then turns into post-partum depression that makes it hard for them to enjoy their little miracle. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU. It DOESN’T HAVE TO. There is a simple, better way.
And remember, there is no shame in seeking help. If you think you are struggling with serious anxiety or depression, seek out professional help, asap!
How I managed my fear and anxiety in pregnancy after miscarriage
Here’s what I did- I did a TON of things all pregnancy long to manage my fears and anxiety so they never grew into anything larger than just moderate stress.
You need to TAKE ACTION now to manage the fear. And, its going to be easier than you think- I promise!
- Realize this is normal. Lots of women have miscarriages, and pretty much all of them are nervous wrecks during their next pregnancy. It is totally, completely, and utterly normal. Does it suck? Yes, but it is normal.
- Know moderate stress won’t hurt your baby. I know, you’ve heard that stress isn’t good for your baby and your mom keeps saying, “you need to relax!” As if you didn’t hear enough of that while you were trying to conceive! And it is absolutely true that severe stress, anxiety or depression DOES have negative outcomes for baby. So, for example, if one of your parents pass away, both you and your husband lose your jobs, and you collapse into a state of anxiety or depression where you can’t function, then, yes, that could lead to some health issues for the baby. BUT, the evidence shows that moderate levels of stress and and anxiety DO NOT affect pregnancy. Let me repeat that- even if you have a moderate amount of worry your ENTIRE pregnancy, your baby will be FINE. It might suck for you though, which is why we want to focus on how to manage it.
- Decide your number one goal is healthy baby and healthy mama. I know. You are in the throws of progesterone-induced emotional upheaval and you are sobbing into your partner’s arms, “But pregnancy is supposed to be a JOYFUL experience!! Why can’t *I* have that??!!!???” Relax your hold, honey. The only thing that is truly important is healthy baby and healthy mama. Hopefully, by following my tips you will have a joy filled pregnancy, anyway. BUT, that is NOT the most important thing and not your number 1 goal. If you can relax your tight grip on it, it may be easier to achieve.
- Meditate. I’m not kidding. If you do any of these eight recommendations do this one! Studies are very clear- spending 10-20 minutes or so a day in the “relaxation response” (which is the scientific term for the trance-like state you enter during meditation) completely resets you from a cellular level and makes you happier and more relaxed. Promise yourself you will spend 20 minutes a day or so doing one of these things- progressive relaxation, guided imagery, biofeedback, self-hypnosis, meditation, or deep-breathing exercises. Suck at doing all those things on your own? Yeah, me too. Luckily, there is a perfect solution. Circle + Bloom has a great pregnancy visualization series that has a different program for each week of the first trimester, and every month of the rest of your cycle. I bought their Healthy Pregnancy and Delivery Program as soon as the doctor confirmed my pregnancy at 4 weeks. I listened to it every day for the first trimester and it was such a relief. It starts out with progressive relaxation until you have reached the “relaxation response” and then it has a visualization for exactly what is happening in your pregnancy that week- in every perfect and wonderful way. After the first trimester it has a meditation for each month of your second and third trimesters. Here’s their “The Science Behind Our Programs” in case you are interested.
- Journal. Write down all your fears. Acknowledge them and release them to the universe. Sometimes this is easier than telling your partner or your mom for the 42nd time.
- Practice Self-Care. Do whatever makes you feel happy. Gentle walks outside, some sweet prenatal yoga, crafting, reading novels, heck, even binge-watching Gilmore Girls (I watched the entire series while pregnant). Take care of yourself.
- Pray. Then pray some more. Ladies, I prayed my butt off while pregnant. I went on Amazon and ordered four different pregnancy prayer books! There are tons of these- pregnancy prayer books, devotionals, etc. This one was my favorite as it prayed explicitly for the baby’s development each week of pregnancy. However, I have now found the mind blowing book Supernatural Childbirth which is all about “confessing scripture” for fertility, healthy pregnancy, and easy birth. This book is amazing, and less than $5. There is a chapter with prayers and scripture for during pregnancy and if you are fearing a miscarriage is threatening. It is so good and totally different than anything else I have ever read. You can also pray to the Patron Saints of Fertility & Pregnancy, especially to St. Gerard, or to St. Catherine who is a special saint for preventing miscarriage.
- Practice Gratitude. What better time in your life than now to practice gratitude? Live it, breathe it, be it. Wake up and give praise and thanks. Give thanks during the day. Give thanks at night. Give thanks out loud. Give thanks in your mind. Give thanks through writing it down. KNOW you are blessed.
- Get Outside. Being in nature reduces anxiety, so get as close to nature as you can. Twenty minutes in the forest can reset your whole mind, but if all you have is a city park, go there, sit under a tree and do some deep breathing.
- Seek Help. If you are struggling so much, you can’t manage to meditate, pray, practice gratitude, etc., then please seek professional help asap! do it for yourself and your baby.
I hope that you will have a blessed and healthy pregnancy. I pray that you will have a healthy and happy baby and momma. Now, go make it happen!!!
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Anna Rapp is a fertility journalist and non-toxic living expert. When Anna Rapp was struggling with infertility and recurrent early miscarriage, she was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve, High FSH, low AMH, low follicle count, endometriosis, and an MTHFR mutation. Despite being told donor eggs were her only solution, Anna used her graduate training in research methods and analysis to read everything she could find on fertility and egg health. Ultimately, she lowered her FSH and got pregnant naturally (twice). She blogs about how she did it and encourages her readers to take charge of their fertility journey and get happy, healthy, and pregnant!