Anxiety about getting pregnant: a problem that feeds back on itself
Excessive anxiety can become an obstacle to achieving a viable pregnancy.
Today, problems in trying to conceive a baby are more frequent than they were a few decades ago. than a few decades ago; this is probably mainly due to the tendency to postpone the moment in which to plan to start the first pregnancy, given that fertility drops significantly in the last stage of youth.
However, the reasons why many women fail to become pregnant go beyond the purely Biological and into the realm of psychology. In such cases, there is usually an emotional obstacle to take into account: anxiety..
Pressure and anxiety to get pregnant
Anxiety is a phenomenon that is present, to a greater or lesser extent, in most psychological problems. For example, a high percentage of people diagnosed with depression also present anxiety disorders (although apparently both seem to work through very different, almost opposite logics), and the same happens with disorders such as addictions, insomnia, post-traumatic stress, etc.
In fact, the scope of influence of excessive anxiety is so wide that it also covers problems considered to be of a medical or biological nature: difficulty in conceiving a son or daughter, the case in point, is an example of this..
Why does this happen? The first thing to be clear about is that the distinction between psychological and medical problems is basically a mirage. A mirage that helps us to understand reality through simplified explanations, but a mirage nonetheless.
Almost everything that happens in a person's living body has a biological and a psychological facet. a biological and a psychological facetbecause both are interconnected realities, they are part of the same thing. However, sometimes we are interested in putting more focus on one of them. That is why it is understood that anxiety problems are something with biological and psychological implications, and both favor the appearance of difficulties in achieving pregnancy.
Biological problems in conceiving linked to anxiety
Here we will focus on the case of people who, in spite of not having medical illnesses that prevent them from having a baby, experience difficulties in conceiving produced mainly by anxiety.
When we feel very anxious, our organism mobilizes resources to react as soon as possible to possible dangers or opportunities that could appear at any moment in our path. This This is done by sacrificing functions that bring benefits in the medium or long term, and of course, the possibility of having a baby is one of them.and, of course, the possibility of having a baby is one of them.
Thus, for example, it has been seen that even in gestation processes that do not end in miscarriage, the existence of high levels of anxiety during pregnancy significantly increases the chances of developing health problems such as preeclampsia, as well as having premature births, as well as having babies with less weight than normal and/or with a smaller cranial circumference, or more prone to develop psychopathologies and psychiatric disorders as they grow up, for example.
Similarly, the presence of high levels of anxiety greatly weakens the immune system, and gives way to an abnormal production of hormones, which have a wide variety of effects both psychologically and on the functioning of organs and cellular tissues throughout the body.The consequences of this are to some extent unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person, but the effects of anxiety are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person, but the consequences of anxiety are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person. The consequences of this are to some extent unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person, but are generally associated with a decline in health status, which affects fertility and the viability of pregnancies.
Psychological problems in conceiving linked to anxiety
As we have seen, excessive anxiety has a biological facet, and now it is time to learn a little more about its psychological facet in terms of how it affects the ability to conceive a baby.
The first aspect to take into account is that anxiety is a phenomenon capable of making us enter into a loop of problematic behaviors that predispose us to continue feeling anxious. In this case, a clear example is that of the woman who believes that it will be very difficult for her to have a baby and because of this she starts to stress out and trying to control every aspect of her life in order to try to conceive and have a successful pregnancy. The mixture of hyper-vigilant attitude and fear of failure brings these people closer to not achieving their goals due to involuntary self-sabotage.
For example, the mental exhaustion produced by anxiety often leads to insomnia problems, or to the adoption of inadequate eating patterns, or to self-induced moments of stress by thinking over and over again about catastrophic situations that could theoretically happen to us. All these experiences not only cause anxiety to continue to accumulate, but also constitute problems that, on their own, are capable of lowering the probability that the pregnancy will go well.
On the other hand, in the case of women, we must not forget a potential source of stress that comes almost "as standard": social pressure and the expectations of family members and loved ones.and loved ones, who want everything to go perfectly. The female role is strongly linked to reproduction and the ability to have children, so that for many women the possibility of being unable to have babies is almost an existential crisis that generates stress.
What to do.
The ideal way to prevent the pressure and stress from affecting the ability to have a viable pregnancy is to to have professional support from psychologists.. However, in addition to this, there are a number of habits and routines that tend to help if we incorporate them into our daily lives. Here is a summary:
- Not trying to block all negative thoughts
- Practicing relaxation techniques on a daily basis
- Reorganize your schedule so that you have time to rest often.
- Follow a defined sleep schedule
- Rely on your own common sense to avoid risks.
- Limiting time spent reading about pregnancies
- Maintaining hobbies beyond motherhood and pregnancy issues
Looking for psychological support?
If you are experiencing problems conceiving and believe that part of the causes are psychological, I invite you to contact me. I am a psychologist with many years of experience in the use of the cognitive-behavioral intervention model, one of the most effective and scientifically validated. Puedes contar con mi apoyo profesional tanto en mi consulta situada en Madrid como a través de sesiones online por videollamada. En esta página encontrarás más información acerca de mi forma de trabajar, y mis datos de contacto.
- Dunkel Schetter, C. & Tanner, L. (2012). Anxiety, depression and stress in pregnancy: implications for mothers, children, research, and practice. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 25(2): pp. 141 - 148.
- Martini, J. et. al. (2013). Maternal anxiety disorders prior to conception, psychopathology during pregnancy and early infants' development: a prospective-longitudinal study. Archives of Women's Mental Health, 16(6): pp. 549 - 560
- Shahhosseini, Z.; Pourasghar, M.; Khalilian, A. & Salehi, F. (2015). A Review of the Effects of Anxiety During Pregnancy on Children’s Health. Materia Socio-Medica, 27(3): pp. 200 - 202.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)