By: Lindsey Danisch MSW, RSW
I’ve never thought of myself a health nut, but I do consider myself a conscience consumer. Suddenly, when I got pregnant, I found myself questioning my entire lifestyle. It started with the questions I was being asked about the kind of mother I wanted to be. When I didn’t know the answers, I started to get a little nervous. But that’s what research is for!
But then, otherpeople started asking me questions too: Do I want an epidural? Will I use a midwife or a MD for the birth? Do I want to breastfeed? Am I already on a list for childcare? Will I use cloth or disposable diapers? Will I co-sleep?
While I choose to believe most people asking the questions had good intentions and aren’t trying to judge my answers, it was hard not to judge myself. This being my first baby, I had not made these decisions before. This is where anxiety steps in.
In my practice, I see women in all stages of pre and post pregnancy. Some are struggling with infertility or grieving miscarriages. Others are newly pregnant and uncertain how they feel about it. Some are navigating the sea of questioning as their belly grows bigger and bigger each day. All these women speak about feeling anxious, wanting to do the “right thing” for themselves (and the baby!), and trying to avoid all the social pressure.
Anxiety is a common and normal feeling. Anxiety is what keeps our minds and bodies safe, and anxiety can motivate us to reach new limits. When we feel too much anxiety, it can start to feel debilitating. It can paralyze us into not making decisions in fear of making the “wrong one”.
Just as it’s wise for couples to seek couples counseling prior to getting married to work out their expectations for partnership, it can be really helpful for women, in all phases of pre and post pregnancy to seek therapy. You can learn to challenge the cognitive distortions (mind reading, black and white thinking, catastrophizing), be mindful of your negative thoughts and find the evidence that you’re on a journey with no correct direction; just the right direction for you.