For some, pregnancy can be anxiety provoking. In particular, I have women who get anxious after the first trimester before their 20-week scan. There is quite a long gap between the two scans and during that time the woman can feel completely well which can be disconcerting after the pregnancy symptoms she felt in the first trimester. Many women are embarrassed to feel anxious when everything is essentially normal for them i.e. they are not having stomach cramps or any bleeding. This blog helps women consider how they can manage this anxiety.
Talking to their partner and/or friends/family
It can be really helpful to talk through your anxiety with those supporting you. It can be especially helpful to talk to friends who are or have been pregnant quite recently as they may well have gone through similar fears and be able to tell you how they managed.
Using an app or book to follow the development of the baby
It can help to use an app (such as https://www.bestbeginnings.org.uk/baby-buddy) or book that tells you how your baby is developing day by day. One example is the Maggie Blott’s Day by Day Pregnancy book published by Dorling Kindersley: https://www.dk.com/uk/9780241312810-the-day-by-day-pregnancy-book/
Following this helps you understand what is happening to your baby and also gives you tips on the changes likely to happen to your body at each stage. The caveat to this is that everybody is totally different. We are all different shapes and stages and have different metabolisms and hormones so don’t expect an answer that will exactly match what you are going through. For example, women who are pregnant with a second or third child are likely to develop a bump sooner than a woman who is pregnant with her first child. They are also more likely to notice kicking of the baby sooner partly because they know what it felt like from an earlier pregnancy.
There is controversy about the use of handheld dopplers. There is limited evidence on whether repeated use of dopplers has any impact on your baby. Furthermore, midwives and doctors train to use them so a pregnant woman who is untrained may struggle to find her baby’s heart beat or may confuse it with her own heartbeat thus either making her more anxious if she can’t find it or falsely reassured if she finds the wrong heartbeat. Furthermore, there is little indication to show that finding a heartbeat means that all is well with the baby so if a woman has any concerning symptoms at all, it is important for her to seek medical advice with her own midwife or doctor. However, some women (without worrying symptoms) do choose to hire or buy a Doppler and find that when they don’t have symptoms it makes them feel more relaxed knowing they can listen in to their baby when they want to. There is no right or wrong here but the most important thing is that if a woman has symptoms she should seek medical attention and not use a Doppler herself to check her baby is okay.
Private scans between 12 and 20 weeks
It is possible to have a variety of scans between your two planned scans which are recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence during your antenatal care. Some private clinics offer scans to enable you to find out the sex of your baby after about 16 weeks. Others offer reassurance scans. Others offer a scan as part of NIPT testing – see this blog to find out more about this: https://pregnapouch.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/is-it-worth-paying-privately-for-the-nipt-test/
Having extra scans can be expensive as they tend to cost in the region of £100. Furthermore, sometimes they actually increase anxiety particularly during the build-up to the scan. Furthermore, even organising the scan can be stressful as there are so many private companies out there and so many types of scan available that it can be hard to know which to go for. Also, organising a scan may mean missing work which can increase the pressure on you.
That isn’t to say it’s not worth doing – it can be a lovely thing to see your baby again and to see how much it has developed. But it is worth thinking about it and discussing whether it’s the right thing for you with those around you.
Discussion with your midwife/doctor
It is really important to see medical attention if you have a new worrying pregnancy symptom. Sometimes it is obvious that you need to seek medical attention, for example if symptoms are severe e.g. stomach cramps or bleeding. Sometimes you have milder symptoms such as mild fatigue and a website like NHS choices (https://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/category.aspx?CategoryID=54) or Doctor and Daughter (http://doctoranddaughter.co.uk/) can support you with them. However, if you are in doubt, contact your midwife/doctor for advice.
Other times you may have no symptoms at all but be feeling anxious. Again, your GP can support you with anxiety symptoms with referral to talking therapy with a psychologist or by allaying a fear you may have themselves. If your anxiety is more severe they can also provide you with medication and/or refer you to see the psychiatry team. There is some self-help for anxiety available here:
So, this article has provided you with tips on how to manage anxiety between your routine antenatal scans. Remember, if in doubt seek advice from your midwife or doctor.
Any questions or comments do get in touch @PregnaPouch or PregnaPouch@gmail.com.
The PregnaPouch team
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