Prenatal Anxiety – Who Knew This Is A Thing
The Event That Would Lead To Prenatal Anxiety
I was 21 when I had my first baby, and I really didn’t know what to expect. But what I really didn’t expect was a hugely traumatic birthing experience that would scar me for life.
My daughter was born after a 36 hour labour, a failed ventouse attempt, a failed forceps attempt and a crash C section under GA when her heart rate was lost. She was born needing extensive resuscitation and special care.
I took her home, and got on with being a parent. But underneath the smiles and excitement there was a dark cloud that never lifted.
I struggled to bond. My last memory before her birth was the chaos when her heart rate was lost, and I truly believed she was dead – I couldn’t get my head around the fact that this live baby in my arms at home was really mine. I expected her to be taken away any minute.
How It Felt To Have Prenatal Anxiety
During my next 3 pregnancies, the memories came back to haunt me with a vengeance. I opted for an elective C-section the next time around, in an effort to avoid a similar experience. I smiled on the outside, and accepted the congratulations and well wishes on the pregnancy.
Inside I was in turmoil. I didn’t enjoy any of my pregnancy. I was counting down the days until it was over. I’d become incredibly anxious about the birth, about the postnatal period and about coping with the emotions which threatened to overwhelm me.
I didn’t know that prenatal anxiety was even a thing. I frequently woke screaming at night. Nightmares about my baby being taken from me or dying came every night. I had flashbacks to my previous delivery. I questioned everything.
When I was diagnosed with polyhydramnios (excess amniotic fluid) I blamed myself. Reading everything I could find about the condition I scared myself silly with stories of stillbirth and birth defects.
I was convinced we couldn’t be so lucky a second time, and that this baby wasn’t coming home. I was absolutely adamant that something would go wrong.
My waters broke at 34 weeks. I blamed myself. Why couldn’t I grow and deliver a baby properly? Why was another baby being torn away from me at birth and taken to special care? What was I doing wrong?
Starting To Recover From Prenatal Anxiety
In my third pregnancy the same feelings overwhelmed me, and I broke down in tears at a midwife appointment.
My lovely, caring midwife sat with me, talked me down from the heights of panic, and she listened. She really, really listened. She told me that she understood, and that my experiences were enough to cause prenatal anxiety and depression.
My midwife told me there was no right or wrong, and that nothing I had done was the cause. She told me that even the medical experts don’t know why these things happen.
She helped me.
Regularly called me at home to make sure I was OK, listening to the same worries over and over again and constantly talking me through them and reassuring me.
The midwife urged me to seek support from the birth trauma counselling service, where I was taken through my labour notes, step by step.
Just understanding what had happened and why certain decisions were made helped me to understand and to come to terms with it all.
I won’t pretend I was cured. I don’t think that’s possible. But I felt much more able to manage my pregnancy.
I understood that sometimes bad things happen to good people, and that I couldn’t change the outcome. But what I could do was look after myself – not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too. Because a healthy, happy parent makes for a healthy, happy child.
I am lucky to be in a position now where I can look back and understand. Where I can sit down in the evening secure in the knowledge that I have 4 children sleeping safely upstairs.
As much as I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I have been through, it did shape me. It made me a stronger, more empathetic person and it made me pursue my dream career. Because that midwife saved me, and if I can be half the midwife she was to me, then I know I have succeeded.
You can also read about someone’s’ pre-natal depression story here
***Edited By Mummy It’s OK***
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