At the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Silicon Valley, we offer cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for Pregnancy Anxiety. Our approach is practical, goal-oriented, compassionate, and scientifically-based while focusing on your individual needs.
What is Pregnancy Anxiety?
Anxiety and worry about a new baby is almost universal for expectant and new parents. Most pregnant women find themselves worrying about the health of their baby, the pain of labor and childbirth and whether they will be “good enough” as mothers. While these worries are normal and understandable, for some women the anxiety becomes distressing, excessive and uncontrollable and begins to interfere with their functioning.
Symptoms of Pregnancy Anxiety
- Excessive worry about your health and the baby’s health
- Physical symptoms including fatigue, muscle tension, head and neck pains, and gastrointestinal distress
- Irritability and tension
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Surfing the internet excessively about issues that worry you
- Avoiding topics or situations that cause you to feel anxious (e.g. avoiding birth planning or prenatal appointments)
- Changes in your functioning, including difficulty completing work, more conflict with your partner, or feeling isolated from friends and family
Cognitive Behavioral Model of Pregnancy Anxiety
The study of anxiety during pregnancy is a relatively new field and not much is know about the precise cause. There is some evidence that hormonal changes during pregnancy may increase vulnerability to anxiety, though other factors probably play a role as well. Women who have a history of anxiety, perfectionist personality traits, or life experiences like past miscarriages or high risk pregnancies tend to have a higher risk of developing anxiety during pregnancy.
From a CBT perspective, excessive worry during pregnancy is viewed as an avoidance behavior used to avoid emotional experiencing. You probably don’t want to feel fear, sadness and other normal but negative emotions, especially related to the birth of a new baby, so you may unwittingly use worry as a distraction tool. Unfortunately, the worry process itself creates anxiety on top of your original emotions and perpetuates the anxiety cycle. You may engage in excessive behaviors to reduce your worry such as searching the internet for reassurance that your baby is healthy, restricting your diet beyond what is recommended by your doctor or avoiding preparing for the delivery of your baby. While these “safety behaviors” may relieve anxiety in the short-term, over time they perpetuate the anxiety cycle and can make your anxiety more intense.
Cognitive Behavior Treatment of Pregnancy Anxiety
Research on Cognitive behavior therapy for pregnancy anxiety is just beginning but the initial results appear promising. CBT for Pregnancy and Anxiety typically includes some or all of the following therapy components:
- Education: Learn about the cognitive, physical, and behavioral components of worry, and the difference between helpful and unhelpful worry.
- Self-Monitoring: Track the details of your worry episodes (triggers, thoughts, action responses, and frequency, intensity, duration of anxiety and worry) to identify your worry patterns and guide the treatment plan.
- Relaxation: Diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, prenatal yoga and other relaxation exercises can help relieve some of the physical symptoms that accompany pregnancy anxiety. Over time, regular practice of relaxation exercises can bring down your baseline state of anxiety so, when you do become physically aroused, it doesn’t feel as intense or out of control.
- Cognitive Strategies: Identify and change the thinking patterns that are maintaining your anxiety cycle, evaluate situations more realistically, solve day-to-day problems, tolerate uncertainty and decrease your use of worry to control negative outcomes.
- Behavioral Strategies: In a planned and gradual manner, start confronting your fears about pregnancy and motherhood to learn to be less afraid of these situations and to fully experience your emotions. By exposing yourself to your fears without avoiding or escaping from them, you will, paradoxically, gain more control over them and it will decrease your anxiety over time.
How to Get Help for Pregnancy Anxiety
The Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Silicon Valley provides therapy and counseling for women with Pregnancy Anxiety. With our convenient location near Highway 85 and Saratoga Avenue, we serve the Silicon Valley communities of San Jose, Saratoga, Mountain View, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Los Gatos, Los Altos, Cupertino and Campbell, CA. Contact us at (408) 384-8404 for more information on how we can help you manage your Pregnancy Anxiety.
Serving the Silicon Valley communities of San Jose, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Cupertino, Campbell, Mountain View, Los Altos, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara, CA
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