Managing Anxiety When You Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding
Disclaimer: This page houses important information and resources pertaining to anxiety during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, including links to our evidence-based Fact Sheets. However, the resources here should not replace the care and advice of a medical professional.
Like most people, you might experience anxiety at some point in your life, like when dealing with a problem at work or at home, when you or a loved one is facing a health complication – or when you find out you are pregnant! It can be hard to tell the difference between what is usual worry/fear vs. symptoms that might be more concerning. When anxiety does not go away, gets worse over time, and/or interferes with everyday activities, those may be signs of an anxiety disorder. Some people may have anxiety disorders before they get pregnant, while others may develop anxiety disorders during pregnancy or after delivery.
“The multiple adverse perinatal outcomes associated with anxiety [in pregnancy] highlight the need to both identify and manage [people who are pregnant] with high levels of anxiety.”— Grigoriadis et al. J Clin Psychiatry. 2018;79(5):17r12011.
Untreated anxiety disorders during pregnancy may increase the chance of adverse outcomes such as preterm delivery (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and low birth weight; they may also make it more difficult to bond with the baby during and after pregnancy, and could increase the chance of having a mood disorder, such as depression, after delivery. If you are concerned about anxiety, talk to your healthcare provider about the best ways to manage it. These might include non-medication options—such as talk therapy, mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and exercise—as well as medications. As always, check out our resources if you’re looking for information about specific medications while you are pregnant, planning a pregnancy, or nursing.
Reference: Buist et al. J Affect Disord. 2011 Jun; 131(1-3): 277–283.
Please see our library of resources below on anxiety during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Related Fact Sheets
- Breastfeeding Following a Natural Disaster
- Bupropion (Wellbutrin®)
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium®)
- Citalopram | Escitalopram (Celexa® | Lexapro®)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin®)
- Diazepam (Valium®)
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta®)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac®)
- Imipramine (Tofranil®)
- Olanzapine (Zyprexa®)
- Sertraline (Zoloft®)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor®)
Related Baby Blogs
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Depression and Anxiety During Pregnancy and After Birth: FAQs
- Anxiety & Depression Association of America: Pregnancy and Medication
- International Childbirth Education Association: Breastfeeding and Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: Anxiety Disorders
- National Institute of Mental Health: Anxiety Disorders
- Postpartum Support International: Anxiety During Pregnancy & Postpartum
- What To Expect: Anxiety during Pregnancy: What’s Normal and What’s Not
- Patient Education Genius
- Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine
- Society for Birth Defects Research & Prevention
- The Mighty
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