9 Natural Remedies for Anxiety During Pregnancy
By OBGYN Dr. Kenosha Gleaton
Anxiety During Pregnancy
Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental health condition, affecting ☺️about 1 in every 5 adults.  Anxiety can start at any point during someone’s life and can sometimes make it difficult to carry on with daily life or social activities. It’s possible for anxiety to arise for the first time when someone is pregnant or recently postpartum. Most often, anxiety will develop right after delivery and up to six weeks postpartum, though it can stick around for longer. 
Anxiety can manifest itself differently from person to person and may not always cause the same symptoms. If you’re experiencing any new or troubling symptoms you should always speak to a healthcare provider. Some symptoms related to anxiety include :
- Constant worry, tension, or a feeling of doom
- Difficulty sleeping
- Rapid heartbeat
- Chest or stomach pains
- Feeling avoidant or reclusive
Many of these symptoms can also be related to other conditions, which is why seeing a healthcare provider is so important. Your provider can help you rule out any other conditions that may be negatively affecting your pregnancy. Learn about panic attacks during pregnancy.
Risk Factors for Pregnancy Anxiety
Some people may be at a higher risk than others for developing an anxiety disorder during or after pregnancy. Some common risk factors include :
- Family history of anxiety disorders
- Previous history of anxiety
- History of pregnancy loss or health challenges relating to pregnancy or delivery
- Having a baby with health challenges
- History of childhood trauma
- Other personal health challenges, including a high risk pregnancy, former mental health conditions, etc.
Treating Anxiety During Pregnancy
In order to best care for your baby, you also need to take care of yourself. Fortunately, there are many options for treating mental health conditions during pregnancy. It’s important to seek out help if you are experiencing any symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other conditions. Finding ways to manage anxiety can improve your chances of a healthy, full-term baby.  Some data also show that treating mental health conditions during pregnancy can decrease the risk of severe postpartum depression.  Can stress cause preterm labor? Find out →
Exploring Natural Remedies
So what natural remedies exist for managing anxiety during pregnancy? There are many different options that may improve your mental health, from exercise to essential oils. Keep in mind that most mental health conditions never fully disappear, but can become less severe and more manageable over time. You should also always seek out professional help before attempting to manage any conditions on your own.
Therapy is often highly recommended as the first option for treating anxiety and can be extremely helpful for learning the adequate tools and techniques needed to manage a mental health condition. If you do decide to try any other treatments, such as natural remedies, be sure to clear them with your healthcare provider first.
Physical activity has many benefits, from improving cardiovascular health to strengthening your bones and muscles. Physical activity during pregnancy may also decrease your risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and other complications.  Studies show that exercise can also significantly reduce the symptoms of anxiety.  Not only is exercise beneficial for mental health, but people with anxiety are sometimes at a higher risk of heart disease, which can also be improved with physical activity. Not all exercises are recommended for pregnant people, so be sure to check with your provider before trying anything new.
Some exercises that are usually deemed pregnancy-safe include walking, swimming, modified yoga or pilates classes, and stationary bicycling. 
Meditation and Deep Breathing
Meditation is another option for managing anxiety. While it may not sound all that helpful, some research does show that deep breathing and meditation practices can be very useful for decreasing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD.  It can also improve one’s ability to concentrate, overcome emotional issues, sleep, and more. Research has shown that regular meditation can actually alter parts of the brain, leading to beneficial results.  If you’re wondering where to start, you should find a quiet, calming place to rest where you can focus on your breaths and try to calm yourself down. There isn’t one “right” way to meditate, so just figure out what works best for you, and you may just notice some beneficial effects sooner than you’d expect.
Using various scents and essential oils may also be helpful for reducing anxiety. Aromatherapy refers to inhaling different oils through an air diffuser or other methods.  While there isn’t much research to claim they will cure any conditions, essential oils can sometimes provide relief for things such as morning sickness, headaches, muscle soreness, etc.  It’s extremely important to note that not all essential oils are safe for pregnancy, especially when used topically. You should always ask your provider before using any new products, and you should never ingest any product or rub it on your skin unless it’s been approved by a provider. Some options that are thought to be pregnancy-safe and good for anxiety include lavender and bergamot. 
Sleep is extremely important for our overall health, both physically and mentally. Sleep plays an important role in our brain function and without enough quality sleep, certain health conditions may arise or worsen. It’s common for people with generalized anxiety to have trouble sleeping (and pregnancy doesn’t always help), but there are ways to improve your sleep habits. Studies also show that improved sleep can lead to improved mental health, including depression and anxiety.  To improve your sleep habits, try the following :
- Avoiding eating or drinking close to bedtime
- Avoid caffeine
- Limit screen time
- Turn off bright lights in your bedroom
- Keep your room at a comfortable temperature
Learn some natural remedies for insomnia during pregnancy →
Increasing Water Intake
Pregnancy demands a lot from your body, which is why eating nutritious foods and drinking plenty of water are so important. It’s recommended that pregnant people try to consume at least eight cups of water every day in order to aid in digestion, forming amniotic fluid, and nutrient circulation.  Additionally, research shows that not drinking enough water may actually increase someone’s risk of depression and anxiety.  Dehydration can also lead to a rise in blood pressure, which may worsen anxiety symptoms. Staying hydrated allows your body to keep functioning properly and may actually improve your mental and physical health. If you’re sick of drinking plain water, try pregnancy-safe hydration packs.
Believe it or not, a massage may actually improve your mental health and well-being. Massages aren’t just useful for sore muscles- research shows that massage therapy can actually improve anxiety symptoms, sleep quality, sleep length, and more.  Not that you need an excuse to treat yourself- but there are plenty of reasons to get a prenatal massage. In one study, pregnant women who received a prenatal massage reported decreased depression, anxiety, leg pain, back pain, and were more likely to carry to term. 
Building a Support Network
One of the most important resources you will have during your pregnancy and parenting journey is a large support network. We all need support from time to time, and having a village of people around you who care about your well-being can make a huge difference. Lean on your partner, friends, family, or build new relationships with other soon-to-be moms. If nothing else, speaking to your loved ones can remind you that you aren’t alone, and that it’s very normal to experience a range of emotions, sensations, and conditions during pregnancy. If you need any additional support or resources, don’t be afraid to ask your healthcare provider. Having people in your corner is invaluable.
Nutritious foods are key for supporting your health during pregnancy. Not only do you need to fuel your body, but what you eat is also where your baby is getting nutrients from. We also know that certain nutrients can play a role in our brain function, which can impact our mental health.  While eating a salad isn’t going to magically cure your anxiety, a regular balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, and more has been associated with lower rates of anxiety.  Additionally, a diet high in fat, low in protein, high in sugar, and high in refined carbohydrates is associated with higher levels of anxiety. Make sure you’re also taking a prenatal vitamin to get all the necessary nutrients you and your baby need for healthy development.
Limiting Caffeine Intake
It’s likely not a surprise that caffeine and anxiety aren’t a great mix. While small amounts of caffeine (less than 200 mg per day) is considered safe during pregnancy, you may want to limit it or cut it out completely if you’re struggling with anxiety.  Studies show that certain amounts of caffeine consumption can induce panic attacks or worsen anxiety in certain populations.  If you’re looking for other ways to get an energy boost, try taking a supplement with B12 to support energy levels. Natalist Hydration & Energy Drink Mix is perfect for a pregnancy-safe, caffeine-free energy boost while still supporting hydration.
How Natalist Supports You During Pregnancy
Pregnancy can throw you a lot of curveballs that aren’t always easy to manage. Whether you battled anxiety before pregnancy or are suddenly experiencing anxiety symptoms for the first time during pregnancy, know that there are plenty of options available to help. Some ways you can support your mental health include exercising, eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep, and maintaining a support network. Keep in mind that seeking out a professional should always be your priority before attempting to manage any symptoms on your own. A provider can help get you connected to therapy, medication, and other treatment options that are much more likely to benefit you.
Natalist is also here to help you prioritize self-care and keep you relaxed with products like the Pregnancy Self-Care Bundle and calming Magnesium Plus Drink Mix. Remember, taking care of yourself is one of the best ways to support your pregnancy. You’ve got this!
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