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Anxiety and Panic During Pregnancy

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Pregnancy & Childbirth > Anxiety and Panic During Pregnancy


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Panic attacks during 3rd trimester

March 2007

Does anyone else have experience with panic attacks during their pregnancy? I started getting them my 2nd trimester, when I was using my albuterol asthma inhaler. I promptly stopped using my inhaler, but they started coming back in my third trimester. My husband and I are very happy to be expecting our first daughter, so I'm not sure why this is happening to me. Anyone else experience these during pregnancy or know how to prevent them? anon


I'd suggest getting a thyroid test. Hypothyroidism is VERY common in women. Anxiety or panic attacs are a symptom of low thyroid. I was probably hypothyroid long before I had my first son but my symptoms BOOMED when he was about 6 months old. It's a very simple blood test. GOod luck, anon
Have you told your OB? Panic attacks can be associated with thyroid problems, and thyroid problems are associated with pregnancy! Have your levels checked! (also good ideas for postpartum exhaustion). stephanie
my sister in law experienced similar problems. she also has asthma and uses an inhaler. there was a post recently in the bpn announcements about a woman doing a study group on the subject of pregnancy anxiety and that it is normal for some women. my sister in law contacted them. if you would like to send me an e-mail i can see if she still has the info. beth

Pregnant with second and worried about everything

Jan 2007

I am about 14 weeks pregnant with my second pregnancy, and I feel like I am falling apart. We have a 3 yr old child whom I love passionately, but who has been since birth a challenging, let's say ''spirited'' child for me. I was ambivalent about whether I wanted/could handle a second, but when I got pregnant (not entirely planned) this time, we decided to keep it, and now I am worried I made the wrong choice. This late in the pregnancy, abortion no longer seems an option. But I worry about everything: the sleeplessness, the financial burdens, the exhaustion, the logistics, the balancing work/family (I work a fairly challenging job and will not be able to take much leave time this time around), all the baby stuff again, all the toddler tantrums and discipline battles again, the impact on our son, on my marriage, etc. It seems most nights and many days I just cry all night long. I had been hoping that maybe this baby would be a girl -- i think I imagined that a girl would be less challenging, or more different, from my spirited little boy -- but we've just learned that it's another boy. When I've seen him on the ultrasound, I just feel nothing -- so different from the excitement and anticipation with my first. I have a good therapist, but but I would really value help from people who have been there -- how do you come to terms with the fact that you are carrying a child you maybe don't want? How do I get over these worries?
thanks for the help


I completely understand your emotions. I was in a very similar situation up to 14 days ago. I have an almost two year old and have just given birth to our second son. I was extremely worried up until I gave birth to him as to what I was in store for, especially the impact on my relationship with my first son, my sanity, my life, my marriage, the whole thing.

Now that I am deep in the muck of newborn madness, here's what I have to say... remember how in love you felt when your first was born? Believe it or not, you will fall that in love all over again with your second. At least for me, my lack of enthusiam during the pregnancy (which also had me freaked out) was based completely on my worrying, now that I look back on it. And that love is separate from - and does not touch - the love you have for your first. My toddler has taken the birth of his baby brother surprisingly well, although he is admittedly a bit insecure and clingy lately. Basically, my strategy in dealing with both of them is to have the newborn strapped in a sling on top of me 24/7 and give my toddler all of my mental attention. So far, its working well.

As for the baby exhaustion. On the one hand, yes, not sleeping. Sucks. On the other hand, second baby is WAY easier to take care of. You know what you are doing. At least for me, I am surprised at how easily I take his cries and fusses in stride. They aren't the panic-inducing anxiety they were the first time. I know how to hold him, feed him, burp him, etc.

So, in the end, its been not only doable, but surprisingly tender and deeply joyous. And again, this is coming from someone who was totally freaking out her entire pregnancy (and was hoping for a girl) with the kinds of worries you mention.

You will be fine. So will your family. Mom of Two Boys


I felt EXACTLY like you did when I got pregnant the second time around, went through the same considerations about abortion and wondered how I could possibly handle another child. Then, at 20 weeks, I had a miscarriage scare and suddenly I realized I really wanted the child.

Once she was born, all considerations of not wanting her became a distant memory. My hormones made me feel about her the same I'd felt about my firstborn.

I won't kid you around, however. Having two children is MUCH more difficult than one. But you learn to manage, the second one becomes easier with age, as they grow the two of them play together, and also you realize you can't be the perfect mother you were to one, and stop trying - which makes it easier.

good luck! anon


Hi there, I'm sorry to hear about these feelings you are having. But, I will share with you a very similar story from my life that I hope will make you feel better - and not so alone in your fears.

I was pregnant with our second son after having had three miscarriages. I was certain that a healthy pregnancy would be the only thing to make me get over my depression - surely caused by the miscarriages, I thought. Well, when at last I was keeping a pregnancy I got very freaked out by it. I panicked about all of the things you mentioned - sleeplessness, the financial burdens, the exhaustion, the logistics, the balancing work/family all the baby stuff again, all the toddler tantrums and discipline battles again, the impact on our son, on my marriage, etc. As it turns out I was having severe anxiety and panic attacks. Having never experienced them before I just felt sad, out of whack and, well, extermelely panicky and anxious.

I got help with how to handle anxiety from a therapist friend. I got chiropractic care for my aching back. I got free time away from my 3 year old when I could. And, I practiced prenatal yoga weekly in a studio and nightly at home. I did finally come around and began looking forward to the birth of the baby, but it was a scary time while it was happening.

I wish you well. I hope you can emerge from this with joy and anticipation! Remember, most of the things that you fear are short-lived and very manageable if you are psychologically well.

Take good care. Anon.


It sounds like you are feeling overwhelmed by many things right now. I can't address them all, but I think you should talk to your doctor about your state of mind. Hormones can cause really horrible emotional imbalances, and what's going on with you might be related to pregnancy hormones. I also wanted to say to you that I have a highly spirited 3 year old boy, who, while i also love passionately, exhausts me to no end. He now has a baby brother that is about as calm and organized as any baby I've seen. It's not just girls who are mellow, and chances our your second will not be as spirited as your first. mom of boys
Dear Pregnant and Very Sad,

I feel so bad for yoU! I am in sort of a similar position, in that I have a very active 2.75 y.o. boy and am now 11 weeks pregnant and really hoping for a girl! I, too, was ambivalent about whether or not to even GET pregnant again and it wasn't until a week ago at my first pre-natal that I got even a LITTLE bit excited. Up till then, I'd been so sick, I really thought about terminating. The thing is, I have been on anti- ansiety/depressant meds since my son was 1 year old, and going off of the Paxil has been a nightmare. ANd it brings up the question as to whether I can even handle a second child. I just think 1.) don't worry about things that aren't happening yet (and worrying when they DO happen won't help either) and 2.) it's REALLY OK to not be happy / excited yet about this pregnancy. Some moms aren't until well after the baby is born. If the sadness continues after THAT, then maybe meds are necessary, but it's ok to be scared and freaked out. Anyway, give yourself a break; you don't have to be skipping with joy about this pregnancy, but also, after the first trimester your serotonin levels will go up and you may feel much better.

Good luck and E me if you'd like to commiserate further. namastesf


Sorry to hear about your ambivalence about your second child. When I got pregnant with my second, I really wanted another girl (I wanted my daughter to have a sister, since I never had one). I was quite disappointed when I found out I was having a boy and it took me a while to get used to the idea that I was going to have a son. But eventually, I accepted the fact and now that he's here, I love him to death! As for how difficult the second one will be, your fear assumes that he will be as difficult as the first. That may not be the case. Maybe your second one will be the mellow one =) I think maybe you have a fear of the unknown, but once your son arrives, I bet you won't be able to imagine life without him! anon
You are not alone. I was pregnant with our second child and felt similar feelings - but once I met the new little person everything changed. Really! Please try to enjoy this time - I know it sounds cliche - but if you can try and be easy on yourself and on the baby it will be so much easier. The baby is going to be its own person - boy or girl - likely to be so different than the first. Do you have good communication with your spouse/partner? The financial and logistic stuff sounds like it is weighing on you. Maybe you could go to a couples counselor to work this stuff out? Or maybe just try to set aside some time (not right before bed) to talk about it. Also, I don't know if you would consider antidepressants now. Crying day and night could be hormones but maybe not? Take care. anon
I'm sorry to hear you're feeling depressed. I had similar feelings about having a second because my first (a girl) is a total hand full, super active, STRONG willed, etc. and she was particularly difficult while I was pregnant. I'll cut to the chase: my second is a boy and has a much easier temperament than number one. Easy going in ways she never was; sweet; a better sleeper; etc. Hope this helps a little. I think you will grow to want the little one inside you. another mom
this sounds much like what i went through with my second pregnancy...we have a now 2 1/2 yr old girl that i would say fits into the ''spirited''child catagory and she is very very active and we really wanted another girl and had picked out names and then we got the news i was expecting a boy and we both were dissapointed but i really had difficulties to accept it and all through the pregnancy i could not connect with the baby i was carrying and i was on an emotional rollercoaster for a couple of months..i was very worried i could never love the baby since i didn,t really want a boy...the last two months i got better ....going into labor we still had no name for the little babyboy we were having but the second he was born and i saw him i had this enormous feeling of complete love and i have to say i just love my little boy......i hope you will experience the same once your baby is born and just know you are not alone in feeling sad and depressed and i know how it feels just to start crying and feel you can,t really stop it...you will get through it and feel better and just to let you know....girls are not necesarily easier then boys ...i know from experience''S''... god luck,treat yourself and try to get as much rest as possible...i feel with you been there liissa
My partner who also suffers from depression, went off her meds (zoloft) when she got pregnant and really sunk into a deep depression. Through the advice of her therapist, they decided together that since there really is no conclusive evidence that says it affects your unborn child and the damage that it was doing to our toddler who now had to deal with this very stressed out and depressed mom, was not worth it. So she went back on the meds, it wasn't great but it was so much better. Now we have the most happy go lucky, smart, athletic 2 years old son. We do find it very ironic that he seems so happy, when she was so depressed. BTW, the depression ended the second he born. good luck to you.
I felt sad and very worried when I was pregnant with my second child. I got pregnant (accident) with n.2 before n.1 was a year old. My husband told me it was my decision and he'd support me either way, but I felt no support from him during my pregnancy, and many times he mentioned his concern that the new baby could have a devastating effect on a relationship that was already hurt by the impact our 1st son had in our lives. I do remember crying frequently and wondering if it made anyself to bring a child to this world given the situation.

However, once our second was born, things slowly started getting better. For starters, I felt that n2 was a lot less of an ''earthquake'' in our lives: we were both very much prepared for all the demands of an infant. I also felt a lot more relaxed mothering n.2, and I think that had a positive effect on the whole family. Our 2nd son was just a friendly soul and he gained our hurts in a few months. I remember my husband once saying how amazing our 2nd son is and how scary the thought was of having considered ending the pregnancy. So, I had a very hard time during pregnancy, but, when the baby was born, things were not half as bad as I had imagined. This is just my story: we are SO happy we had our son, our children are what we most cherish in our lives (even with the challenging parts of being a parent!). Happy mommy of 2


I am so sorry about what you are going through. I have not been through the same experiece but felt that I just had to reply.

My first child is a very spirited child and I was overwhelmed by her, and sill am at times. As a first time parent it is hard to imagine that another child will not be similar, but anyone with more than one child will tell you that they are all so different. Chances are your next baby will be nothing like your first. Also, your next baby is going to have to be adaptable because baby one is already here and is running the show! My second child is polar opposite from my first--they are nothing alike. It was so much easier the second time. They are both girls too.

As I read your post my gut feeling is that something else is going on. I wonder if there are unresolved feelings about your life, childhood, or whatever it may be, that are all coming out during this vulnerable time.

I would like to suggest that you explore this more before your baby comes, because as you know this depression is likely to increase during postpardum if not looked into. I would like to give you a resource that was so helpful to a friend of mine in a similar situation. I think it is important to have a therapist who deals very specifically with these issues-- pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. Phyllis Klaus is a therapist who deals with your exact issues, she is accomplished and experienced--you can search her name on the web and read about her. I have known more than one friend that has seen her, and they all agree that she was so easy to talk to, wonderful, and helped them with similar struggles.

Even if you like your therapist, you may get a lot more out of meeting with someone who will address the specifics. You have the right to enjoy this pregnancy and second baby experience, so please do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

Best to you and your family.
Just another mom that cares.


while you will probably get mostly response along the lines of try anti-depressants, I just wanted to say it is not too late to end the pregnancy. I terminated a pregnancy for medical reasons at 13 weeks. If you do decide to go that route, make sure its an OB who routinely does the surgery as it is more complicated than first trimester terminations. Mine was at Alta Bates. Not sure if you wanted to hear that sort of info. I do think for some families one child is the answer, and for some its 2 or 3 or 4. I am sorry you are going through this. take care
I am a psychologist specializing in perinatal issues, www.ginahassan.com and part of a group practice, Perinatal Psychotherapy Services, www.perinatalpsychotherapy.com We offer individual and group therapy for women struggling with depression/anxiety during and following pregnancy. It sounds like you need support and a place to sort through your sadness about the gender of this baby and your worries about being overwhelmed by another high need child. Individual or group therapy could be helpful in sorting through your feelings of despair. There are a lot of resources available in this area, and I or one of my colleagues would be happy to speak to you about what might be helpful in getting you through this difficult period. Please feel free to call or email. You might also want to look at the website for Postpartum Support International or Depression After Delivery, both of which have a lot of useful information about depression during pregnancy as well. There is help and support available, you are doing right to reach out. Best of luck - Gina Hassan, Ph.D.

Panic attacks and seizures during pregnancy, considering abortion

May 2004


I can at least give you some information about the Tegretol; I had my pregnancy while taking it, and had a perfectly healthy child. The advice I was given by every doctor I asked was to (a) take 10 times the RDA of folic acid (4 mg) every day, and (b) have an amniocentesis to make sure the child didn't have spinal problems. What it boiled down to was that the risks of spinal or heart problems in a child whose mother was taking Tegretol were twice what they were otherwise -- something like 5% rather than 2.5%. Karen
My heart goes out to you. I found out I was pregnant while taking Depakote, which is also an anti-convulsive and worked to contain my mood swings and chronic anxiety. I went off it when I was 8 weeks pregnant and we have a healthy baby boy. I have continued on Celexa and am fine. In large part, the credit goes to Dr. David Rovno, MD in Montclair, 510-531-7523. I have seen many highly qualified, incredibly educated doctors over a 20 year period for this issue and am most impressed with Dr. Rovno's approach to medication. He is quite adept and does not overprescribe. I felt taken care of and supported through my preganancy using only Celexa and am now feeling better than I have in years. So my advice is: make an appointment with him to see if you can control the anxiety with a safer drug like an SSRI. There is also another drug which works on the ''switching' mechanism in the brain, like Tegritol and Depakote, that may be safer. He will know what it is. Good Luck to you and your family, whatever route you choose. anon
I have not been in your situation but my heart goes out to you making such a tough decision. Just based on what you said it would be really, really hard to continue the pregnancy. I would never tell someone they should or should not have an abortion.I had two in my teens and early twenties when I felt I couldn't care for a child, now having two children, I still think I made the right choice for then. I think terminating a pregnancy is a reasonable choice, not one to make lightly but a choice that we have for when birth control fails and the circumstances warrant it. I'm not sure if this is what you were asking... all the best
I hope my experience might help a bit. I'm sorry (but understand) that you did not list an email address so this might reach you sooner. I developed panic attacks during my 1st pregnancy having NEVER had one previously. I consulted with a psychiatrist who specializes in psychiatric disorders during pregnancy: Anna Spielvogal, MD in SF who has a private practice but also works at SF Genral hospital. It took me a several weeks and many more panic attacks before I began to take the Zoloft she recommended and it completely took care of the symptoms. I stopped taking it a few weeks after delivery and did not have another panic attack again until the second trimester of my 2nd pregnancy! They developed almost the same week as they did in my 1st pregnancy. I experimented this time because they were not as frequent but eventually took Zoloft for the last trimester and this time stopped a few days before my due date and I have not had a single attack since. My babies have been totally fine! I do not know about seizures and the impact of tegretol but I'd highly recommend your seeing someone who specializes in psychiatric disorders during pregnancy! She will have experience with other women like you! Dr. Spielvogal is listed in the SF phone book. Good luck! anon
I did NOT see this question but am quite concerned. I have taken tegretol for a seizure disorder for about 15 years now. I chose it in my mid-twenties because it was rated the safest drug for women who would be having children! I have a wonderful doctor in Mountain View named Dr. Susan Hansen. She's a neurologist and I'd suggest calling her. I do not know the specifics. For me, I had a head injury and can take the minimum dosage of tegretol. I had a special test mid- pregnancy to determine if there were any problems and there were not. Tegretol is a stage three drug or whatever it's called. That means that it CAN harm a fetus and it's is contraindicated. However, if you have a seizure disorder, you can cause more damage to the fetus from having a seizure than by taking drugs throughout. I have been going to female neurologists since 1983 because I found them far, far more sympathetic to the fertility/motherhood issues. Your neurologist should be able to counsel you on this issue. I take 300 mg of tegretol a day. I took folic acid and C0Q10 or whatever it's called, and my baby was 100% fine. Please, call a neurologist on this. MANY drugs that are contraindicated can be carefully used during pg. tegretol mom
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