Anxiety is common and many women will experience a worsening of their anxiety while pregnant. Many women take anti-anxiety medications from the Benzodiazepine drug family such as diazepam (Valium®), lorazepam (Ativan®) and alprazolam (Xanax®) prior to pregnancy.
They are, however, not felt to be completely safe to take while pregnant. They cross easily into the placenta and the baby. Brain developmental issues, malformations such as cleft lip, premature birth, low birth weight and general behavioral developmental issues seem to be related to their use in pregnancy. Low blood sugar and respiratory problems in the newborn may also occur. Neonatal withdrawal symptoms has been noted as well.
Do talk to your medical health providers if you are on one of these medications and you are newly pregnant. The best option is usually to try to switch to an antidepressant that has an anti-anxiety effect since they seem to be safer. However, not all antidepressants are safe during pregnancy.
Eating frequent healthy small meals, getting enough sleep, avoiding caffeine and surrounding yourself with people who care for you will help anxiety. Getting counseling may help as well and you can talk to your health care provider to help you find one. For occasional bouts of anxiety, deep belly breathing may help. This is how you do that:
- Place one hand flat against your abdomen with your thumb over your navel area
- Place your other hand against your chest
- Breath in to the count of 5 through your nose while expanding your abdomen and trying to keep you chest still
- Pause for a few seconds
- With a longer count, exhale slowly through your mouth as your abdomen relaxes
- Repeat this for a total of 10 to 20 minutes.