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Anxiety During and After Pregnancy

Condition Basics

What is anxiety during and after pregnancy?

Anxiety means feeling very worried about things, like your health or your baby's health. It's common to have some worry while you're pregnant and after childbirth. But if it lasts more than 2 weeks, your doctor will want to know. Together, you can find ways to help you feel better.

What are the symptoms?

One symptom of anxiety is not being able to stop worrying. Other symptoms include feeling nervous or irritable. You may not be able to concentrate. And you may feel very tired (fatigued). You may also have headaches, nausea, stomach pain, or trouble sleeping.

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms. You may be asked about your past health and any medicines you take. Your doctor may ask questions to rule out other health conditions, such as depression. You may have a physical exam.

How is anxiety during and after pregnancy treated?

Anxiety is treated with a type of counseling called cognitive behavioral therapy. It may also be treated with medicines. Self-care can also help, like getting enough sleep and doing things that help you relax. Ask your doctor about the different types of treatment. Then you can decide together about what might work for you.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Here are some things you can do if you have anxiety during or after pregnancy.

  • Go to counseling.

    Try to attend all of your counseling sessions.

  • Take your medicines as prescribed.

    If you have trouble taking your medicines, talk to your doctor.

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods.

    Avoid food and drinks that contain caffeine, such as coffee or energy drinks. Caffeine may make anxiety worse.

  • Try to get some daily exercise.

    You could do things like walking or swimming. If you are still bleeding from childbirth, wait until the bleeding stops to swim.

  • Get enough rest.

    Try to get at least one full night of sleep each week. If you breastfeed, you may want to pump and store milk so someone else can feed the baby while you sleep.

  • Find ways to relax.

    You could try deep breathing exercises. There are smartphone apps that can help you learn how.

  • Avoid using alcohol, nicotine, and drugs.

    If you need help quitting or cutting back, talk to your doctor.

  • Connect with others.

    Consider joining a support group for people with anxiety during and after pregnancy. Go to www.postpartum.net to find an online support group. Or ask your doctor about support groups in your area.

  • Watch for signs of depression.

    Depression and anxiety can sometimes happen at the same time. If you feel sad, depressed, or hopeless, and it lasts for more than 2 weeks, tell your doctor right away.

If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away. You can go to 988lifeline.org or call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Or text HOME to 741741.


Current as of: March 29, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kara L. Cadwallader MD - Family Medicine
Rebecca Sue Uranga MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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