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Anxiety about pregnancy can cause preterm births

pregnant mom

Anxiety about pregnancy can cause preterm births


Did you know that being anxious about your pregnancy can lead to preterm delivery? It's like that moment when something bad happens just because you thought about it. New research shows that women who experience anxiety during pregnancy are at risk of an earlier delivery (before 37 weeks are complete).

The findings suggest that both general anxiety and pregnancy-related anxiety may lead to the same childbirth complication. Pregnancy-related anxiety refers to intense worries about the delivery, life after delivery, the baby's health, ability to care for the child, etc.

That said, it is very likely that a woman who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder will feel anxious about her pregnancy.

Anxiety in pregnancy is common

Previous research has shown that 1 in 4 women experience clinically elevated anxiety symptoms during pregnancy. Depression is also common among pregnant women. Of course, postpartum depression is pretty much acknowledged these days. So, most clinics evaluate pregnant women for depression to know whether intervention would be necessary. But the same attention and efforts are not directed toward anxiety during pregnancy.

To address the problem, lead study author Christine Dunkel Schetter, Ph.D., and others went on to carry out the research.

The researchers examined a diverse sample of almost 200 pregnant women at different stages of pregnancy: first, second, and third trimesters.

The researchers discovered that pregnancy-related anxiety in the third trimester had the strongest link with preterm births. General anxiety in the first trimester also significantly increased the risk. Again, we can deduce that people with general anxiety will later go on to worry about childbirth and parenting as the pregnancy progresses into the final months.

You might be thinking, what if these women simply had underlying medical conditions that predisposed them to pregnancy complications?

Well, the results held true even when the medical risks of the women's pregnancies were accounted for.


The role of Ob-Gyns in all of this

Seeing how anxiety can impact childbirth, obstetricians and gynecologists would need to step up to assess anxiety during pregnancy just as they do for depression. Obviously, more preterm births could be avoided and more lives saved just by addressing anxiety during pregnancy.

Battling anxiety during pregnancy? Seek help quickly!

If you're feeling anxious about your pregnancy or scared about delivery and the burden of parenting, you're not alone. Especially when it's your first, it can be scary. But anxiety during pregnancy can put you at risk; not just you but your newborn as well. And your fears could become a reality.

Get help from an Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurse today to beat anxiety and position yourself for a safer delivery.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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