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Phobias, strong fears related to particular situations, are the most common anxiety problems. People often find a way to live with them in normal life, often by avoiding situations that trigger the fear. Pregnancy and the postnatal period makes this very difficult in the case of two particular phobias, fear of blood, injections and injury (BII) , and fear of vomiting. These situations are impossible to avoid completely at this time and can therefore be very distressing. Fear of vomiting is often related to early memories of this, and keeps going in the present by avoidance and taking particular precautions that keep the anxiety going. This chapter will help you understand and work through these factors to tackle your fears. BII is unique in triggering a fainting response and probably has a large genetic component rather than being learned. We describe proven techniques to apply during exposure exercises to counteract the fainting response triggered in BII, which are known to have a long-lasting effect. Getting on top of these fears will help you manage and enjoy pregnancy and the postnatal year.
Pregnancy-related anxiety and fears of childbirth are very common indeed. This chapter focuses on anxiety about pregnancy and birth. It covers the range of fears that mothers can experience during pregnancy, including the health of your baby, your bond with your baby, what birth will be like, your appearance during pregnancy or after birth, your parenting abilities and / or how life might change after birth. It provides tips to understand why you migtht be feeling particularly anxious at this time, and techniques to tackle the factors that keep anxiety going, so that you can enjoy more of your pregnancy wihtout interference from anxiety.
Becoming a parent is a process that begins psychologically at the start of the journey to pregnancy and continues beyond birth. This chapter covers what to expect emotionally as you adjust to life after birth. We provide practical tips on finding your own way as a parent and tips on how to manage worries about being an ‘anxious parent’. There is a practical guide to navigating anxiety about bonding with your baby and tips to increase feelings of closeness as this relationship develops.
Panic attacks are frightening experiences. During a panic, you experience strong physical sensations that feel very serious and threatening at the time. This can leave you fearful of having further panic attacks. This chapter outlines how to understand and beat panic attacks at this time. Pregnancy is a time of lots of physical change and lots of focus on those changes, which can be difficult if you have become worried about physical sensations. It can be difficult managing panic attacks if you are caring for young children. We guide you through the cognitive understanding of panic attacks, that they are driven by understandable but incorrect interpretations of physical sensations. We will help you to apply this theory to your individual situation, to recognise which sensations are particularly frightening, and outline experiments to target behaviours such as avoidance, focus on sensations and other factors that keep the fear going.
This chapter provides an understanding of the ways that past trauma can affect women in pregnancy and postnatally. It provides guidance on how to recognise and understand the symptoms of post traumatic stress and information on why a traumatic event can continue to affect a person deeply, even if it was a long time ago, other circumstances have moved on or it is not considered ‘traumatic’ by others. The focus is on maternity and birth-related traumas, although the principles apply to other types of trauma. Evidence-based techniques will help you understand and work through your reactions to trauma and will help you put intrusive memories into the past so that you can untangle the past and present. This chapter covers working with self-blame and tackling other consequences of trauma such as feelings of disconnection as well as practical tips on talking to loved ones and professionals in order to get the right support at this time.
This chapter provides an overview of what anxiety problems are, and why the perinatal period features all the key ingredients that can lead to problemmatic anxiety. Nurturing and caring for a baby is not easy for anyone and involves large emotional and physical demands, managing uncertainty and avoiding harm. All in the context of disturbed sleep and a major life change. The cognitive-behavioural model of anxiety states that it is not just the situation we find ourselves in, but the particular meaning we give to our experiences that drive and make sense of our emotions and other responses. In pregnancy and the postnatal period these meanings may be influenced by a complicated and sometimes traumatic journey to pregnancy and birth, beliefs about the importance of thoughts or physical sensations, and how we respond to the responsibility of being pregnant or in charge of a baby, as well as other personal and historical factors. There are many common factors across anxiety problems. In the rest of the book we explain how to apply this basic understanding to overcome particular forms of maternal anxiety.
Severe anxiety affects a huge number of women in pregnancy and the postnatal period, making a challenging time even more difficult. You may be suffering from uncontrollable worries about pregnancy and birth, distressing intrusive thoughts of accidental or deliberate harm to the baby, or fears connected to traumatic experiences. This practical self-help guide provides an active route out of feeling anxious. Step-by-step, the book teaches you to apply cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) techniques in the particular context of pregnancy and becoming a new parent in order to overcome maternal anxiety in all its forms. Working through the book you will gain understanding of your anxiety and how factors from the past and present may be playing a role in how you feel. Together with practical exercises and worksheets to move through at your own pace, you will gain the tools you need to help you move forward and enjoy parenthood.
This chapter revisits the key ideas of the book on breaking free from maternal anxiety and provides a framework to capture the information and techniques that have been most useful to take you forward into the future as a parent and any future pregnancies. There are additional resources including a template for a birth plan to help work through fears and identify the best strategies for support. Also included are practical tips on improving sleep and mood as well as further resources, reading and peer support tailored to a range of issues in pregnancy and the postnatal period.