Anxiety about pregnancy: how to better cope with upheavals in pregnancy

Mental stress, difficulties in reconciling the status of mother with that of woman in the near future, fear of not being able to cope with everything at the same time, acceptance of the impossibility of fully controlling one’s own motherhood, fear of postpartum depression … Here, above, the Main problems of pregnant patients conceived by Laurie Eghissian, clinical psychologist specialized in perinatal care. And their cases are far from isolated. the prenatal depressive symptoms and anxiety symptoms are the subject of growing attention from scientists and government agencies. For example, in March 2017, the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) published the WPA Perinatal Mental Health Position Statement, a position statement on prenatal mental health written by twelve experts from eight different countries, including a dozen recommendations for decision-makers and caregivers in the perinatal care. For its part, the High Authority for Health (HAS) recalled in November 2020 that in France around 12.5% ​​of pregnant women a prenatal psychological distress, as part of the Elfe study. The HAS needs to issue their recommendations on practices, organization of care and support specific to the perinatal period in January 2022 as we close this issue.

Matrescence: You are not born a mother, you become one

Inspired by Simone de Beauvoir, this proverb perfectly sums up the complexity of motherhood, which begins with pregnancy, the first phase of great upheaval in the parental adventure. Starting with the concept of identity, which is severely disturbed. “With women, we increasingly hear about ‘maternity’, a contraction between the words ‘motherhood’ and ‘adolescence’ that conjures up this identity crisis. Not all women experience these changes in the same way, but I think we can speak of an identity crisis, says our psychologist. This new identity of the mother is not innate and is built up during pregnancy and throughout parental life, with what our parents have given us, our environment and the encounter with our baby. »

pregnant sensitivity

With reactions sometimes exaggerated, or at least perceived as such, it is tempting to think that pregnancy places women in a special state in which emotions and accompanying reactions are heightened. A cause and effect relationship that is far from proven. ” In my opinion, There is no pregnancy-specific hypersensitivity. Any pregnant woman will respond with who she is. Some are more sensitive to certain emotions than others, depending on the pain of pregnancy they are experiencing, the context in which that pregnancy took place, and who they are around (partner, family, friends),” explains Laurie Eghissian. To help expectant mothers deal with their fears, emotions and mood swings, she suggests several options:

  • Discuss this with a caring healthcare professional (midwife, gynaecologist, psychologist, etc.).
  • Follow antenatal sessions like sophrology, prenatal yoga, or hypnosis, which can help manage emotions.
  • acupuncture, osteopathy.
  • Treat yourself to meditation sessions at home.

“It is important not to be alone with your feelings and to find the one that meets our needs from all these suggestions,” recommends the psychologist.

Fortunately, not all expectant mothers are plagued by these feelings. So we met Charlène, notary and mother of two children aged 3 years and 6 months, obviously very stressed. The only exception: her pregnancies. “I’ve never felt so good and happy,” she told us. Since her source of stress was mainly work-related, it almost disappeared when she was able to focus solely on her personal life. A condition that is also made possible by a solid family and a loving environment. “The presence of those around you is essential to help the mother-to-be. In concrete terms, it is about being available and listening to him, telling him that we are there if it is necessary. Advice and judgments such as “You should do this, that”, “I did that” should be avoided. They don’t help and tend to feel guilty. In some situations, it’s better not to say anything than to say hurtful words,” says the specialist.

A new body for a new life

To say pregnancy is to say evolution of the body, which can be difficult to accept. Women claim to feel very badly about their new curves, the risk of stretch marks appearing, the fact that their stomach is moving… This was particularly true of Claire, mother of a 7-year-old boy: “With gestational diabetes , I was very careful and didn’t gain much weight. On the other hand, I had a lot of trouble accepting the size of my stomach. Embracing physiological changes can mean letting go of ingrained images. “Our relationship with the body isn’t always easy, especially given the societal pressures we’ve put on women since childhood. The stereotypes conveyed on social networks do not help to accept oneself and can explain the discomfort felt,” confirms Laurie Eghissian, who again advises talking to a doctor to understand the fears that disturb what expectant mothers are doing. t how and most importantly why. At the same time, she reminds us that communicating with the other parent helps relieve guilt. “Some women are afraid that their partner won’t like their new body, they don’t dare to talk about it, on the contrary, very often their partner likes this new silhouette. Also not to be underestimated are the soothing treatments and massages for pregnant women, “an excellent way to take care of and appropriate this new body”.

The embarrassment of pregnant nudity

Prenatal visits are numerous throughout pregnancy, and many require you to show your nudity. This can create episodes of embarrassment, even fear. The specialist treating you must explain the purpose of your visit and the procedure. If he doesn’t, or details are missing, this is an opportunity to ask him questions about future practices. Our expert reminds you that a caring and attentive healthcare professional cannot force you to undress, namely You have the right to refuse and change doctor or midwife. As Laurie Eghissian explains, there is a need to discern nudity, which is on the order of embarrassment and novelty. “In a first pregnancy we face the unknown, we have few ideas about what is going to happen and it is difficult to anticipate our reactions. If you have a nudity phobia, it may be helpful to speak to a psychologist who specializes in perinatal life. “If you’re feeling stressed about nudity, don’t hesitate to talk about it, no matter when the counseling is. » It is important to feel safe, never force yourself and, if necessary, meet several specialists to find the one who can put your mind at ease.

pregnant sex life

Sex life changes over the months. Couples slow it down or even put it on hold until delivery. Émilie, mother of two, confided to us that she was one of those people, each time outweighed by fear of repercussions for the baby. However, there is no danger in a pregnant sex life. “On the contrary, our bodies release hormones like endorphins and oxytocin during sex the hormones of well-being and love that are good for the fetus ‘ our psychologist reassured. She specifies that being desired and feeling desired while her body is in constant development is good for self-esteem. At the same time, she emphasizes another aspect: desire, which can be disturbed both in the future mother and in her or her partner. It is therefore essential to talk about your desires and possible obstacles. “Don’t make it a taboo subject, just say what you feel and what you’d like to have… The important thing is to take things from yourself and not blame the other for what they don’t or shouldn’t do. Remember, the more you communicate as a couple, the less tension there will be. Sexuality during pregnancy can be experienced in different ways. You must listen to and respect your needs and the needs of others. »

Pregnant, you are not alone

If there’s one thing to remember, it’s this. And whether you are a psychologist, midwife or doctor, do not be afraid to let perinatal professionals accompany you at any time, even during the baby project phase.

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