Pregnancy When You Have An Anxiety Disorder

maternity photo by Marisa Albrecht

maternity photo by Marisa Albrecht

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The thoughts in this post are based on my personal experiences. Always consult a doctor with medical (physical or mental) concerns.

A few months ago I shared an article about struggling with anxiety on my personal Facebook page. A blog buddy of mine messaged me soon after saying she was struggling with anxiety after having her baby and she was afraid of having another baby while struggling with anxiety. We talked for awhile and I think it helped both of us. But we both noticed that there aren't many resources about pregnancy and anxiety disorders and the ones that are out there are full of medical jargon that's hard for anyone who doesn't have a PhD to understand. I decided to be open and honest and share my story in hopes of helping other mamas out there.

The Anxiety

I was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder around 2008 and then diagnosed with selective anorexia at the end of 2008 and entered treatment for my eating disorder. I am now recovered from anorexia but still struggle with anxiety. When I was talking to my blog buddy I described anxiety as "feeling like you're trapped in a box with no idea how to get out" and she completely agreed. Anxiety is stifling and crippling and claustrophobic. And when you're a mama, all the extra responsibility sits on top of that. But @@I'm here to tell you mama, that you are not alone.@@

When you decide that you want to be a mama it's exciting but sort of terrifying, even if you don't have issues with anxiety. When you have an anxiety disorder those terrifying thoughts can try to take over. Anxiety can try to tell you that you're not fit to be a mother, that your baby will have anxiety when it grows up so you shouldn't have kids at all, or that something will go wrong during your pregnancy so why even try. I've had all of those thoughts myself, before both of my pregnancies. But @@you can't let anxiety win, that's not what God has planned for your life!@@ John 10:10 NLT says, "The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life." @@Anxiety does not come from God and those thoughts of doubt don't come from God.@@

My advice to someone who has an anxiety disorder and is considering trying for a baby is that if you are at a place where you have your anxiety well-managed, you have a strong support system, and doctors you trust working with you, then go ahead and try for that baby. I cannot say it enough: WE CANNOT LET ANXIETY WIN. 

Pregnancy + Anxiety

Once you become pregnant your hormones will change and so will your anxiety. In my first pregnancy I actually went off one of my medications (because it was a Class X drug in pregnancy, you can read more about drug classifications in pregnancy here) and I only needed my "for emergencies only" Xanax three times in the entire nine months. After my first pregnancy my doctor and I decided to increase my main medication and add on another one to help stabilize those postpartum hormones. Since I knew we wanted at least one more kid, I made sure that both of those medications were pregnancy-safe. My second pregnancy was vastly different. I was able to stay on my medications but my anxiety and depression were still terrible, I don't even want to imagine what would have happened if I wasn't on any medications. There were multiple days when I needed either my husband to come home from work early or my parents to come over because I was scared of what may happen if I was left alone. And postpartum this time has been extremely difficult for me. I've again had my hubby and my parents on-call and my doctor and I decided to increase one of my medications. But I'm surviving. I'm pushing through, getting help, and living a faith-based, intentional, joyful life

The key points I want you to remember after reading what I've gone through are these:

  • Ask for help

  • Have a strong support system

  • Communicate with your doctor

  • Listen to your body

  • Don't be ashamed for feeling anxious or depressed

@@Don't let anxiety strip of your chance to be a mama.@@ It's completely possible for you to be a mom even if you have an anxiety disorder, just make sure that your anxiety is well-managed, your support system is in place, and you communicate with your doctor.

If you are diagnosed with anxiety, what fears did you have before becoming a mama? What tips would you give to mamas in a similar situation? If you are looking for a positive community to encourage you in your journey, join my Facebook community Healthy, Happy Homes. It's all about living an intentional, faith-based, joyful lifestyle and full of uplifting threads and wonderful ladies. Come join us.