Tips on Dealing with Anxiety During the First Trimester
The first time I taught prenatal yoga, I imagined it would be a beautiful time filled with glowing moms-to-be and sweet baby kicks. To open my first class, I told my students, “you are so full of divine feminine goddess beauty right now!”
Well…they looked at me like I was nuts.
They weren’t sleeping, they had to pee constantly and they felt like their body had been possessed by an alien. Who knew?
The first trimester of your pregnancy is filled with contradicting emotions. Excitement and fear. Gratitude and doubt. Hope and anxiety. Your body is changing and many moms-to-be are discovering new aches and pains on a daily basis.
You worry about yourself. You worry about your baby. And you find your mind often drifts to worst-case scenarios. Thankfully, there are several ways to help calm this worry and the first one is this – know that you are not alone, that almost every mom-to-be has the exact same worries as you.
The first step towards easing your anxiety is finding support from friends, family and healthcare professionals. If you’re worried about a strange new feeling or symptom, check with your healthcare provider. Often their assurance that what you’re experiencing is perfectly normal will calm your mind. If what you need is a kind voice or an ear that will listen, reach out to your loved ones.
For some, reaching out can be difficult. We think of ourselves as independent individuals, able to handle whatever comes our way. However, when we are pregnant, we are no longer only an individual. We are mother and child. Seeking help for ourselves is seeking help for our babies. You may also think of it as cultivating a practice. Once baby arrives, being able to ask for help is a wonderful skill to possess.
As hard as it may be, take the time to slow down. Exhaustion can make anxiety worse. Think of resting as a productive – and necessary – part of pregnancy. Lying down for even 15 minutes gives your body a chance to recover. Consider learning to meditate and to fully use your breath.
Reset your parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for “rest-and-digest” or feed-and-breed” activities) by learning how to exhale fully. This reset will relax your blood pressure, slow down your heart rate and reduce the firing of neurons in your brain. Try breathing in through your nose and whisper “ha” as you slowly exhale for twice as long. Think of drawing your baby toward the back of your body as your pelvis becomes heavy.
Remember this – we are not in charge. Think of elements in nature. How easy is it to move a waterfall? A towering tree? The clouds in the sky? The power of nature is the same power that is behind your baby right now. Practicing yoga reminds us of this power. We are following the breath, making space for prana, or life force, and connecting to the miracle of this growing life inside. There’s something bigger happening that wants to thrive, and we can feel it.
Other forms of movement also help take us out of our headspace and into our bodies, where we can connect with our breath. Moving for even 15 minutes has been shown to release anxiety. Taking a long stroll through nature, doing a full online prenatal yoga practice or dancing until you’re breathing heavily all help take your mind off your worries and bring you back into your body – and back to your baby.