Can you prevent Perinatal Anxiety?
The short answer is: not necessarily. Perinatal anxiety can happen to anyone and it is mostly out of our control who develops it. Research has yet to identify anything specific you can do to prevent it from developing, apart from maintaining as healthy a lifestyle as you can. However, there are associated risk factors that make it more likely you will develop it. The main thing to realise is that it is NOT your fault if you develop perinatal anxiety.
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While you may not be able to 100% prevent perinatal anxiety from happening, you still have the power to do things that will lessen its impact and help you recover faster. The sooner you can do this the better… so, it is a good idea to start putting good habits into practice and looking after yourself during your pregnancy. For example, looking after yourself generally will help you to support your mental health, and can help to keep anxiety symptoms at bay. We have guidance on how to do this on this website. Since becoming pregnant you may find that have already started to act in healthy and positive ways to help look after yourself and in turn your baby, which is great. If you haven’t, now is a great time to start. Remember happy mum = happy baby. So, any time you invest in yourself, you are investing in your baby’s wellbeing too.
Educating yourself about mental health issues like perinatal anxiety will help equip you to be able to recognise it and know when and how to get help. You might want to put a plan together if you are concerned about developing it or have had it before. The charity Tommy’s offer resources to help you develop a wellbeing plan to help you look after yourself during pregnancy and after the birth:
Having a plan can help lessen any worry you might have about developing perinatal anxiety. And it can also give you peace of mind to identify a trusted person you can check in with about how you are feeling.
You can also arrange with your healthcare professional or midwife to have appropriate monitoring and check-ups if you have had anxiety before or you have experienced perinatal anxiety with a previous child.