Dr. Jamie Wendt, DNP, FNP-C, is a nurse practitioner, focusing on women's health across the lifespan. Her prior roles in labor and delivery nursing, and social work have informed her philosophy of patient-centered, holistic, and compassionate care. She practices and teaches in Southern Maine. Her passion is to see people feel heard, seen, and understood in their healthcare environments, and to see their lives improve as a result.
Jamie is also a friend of mine from my previous job working in healthcare! And today, we talked about all things anxiety and pregnancy. To give some background… Jamie was a labor and delivery nurse for over twelve years! And now, she’s a nurse practitioner working in a private practice. I knew that Jamie would be the perfect person to speak with about this topic because she values a holistic approach to women’s healthcare, including an emphasis on mental health!
So in this episode, I ask Jamie some of the most common questions and concerns that women struggling with anxiety have surrounding the topic of pregnancy. Jamie has so much helpful information to share, so make sure you stick around for the whole conversation!
Pregnancy and Anxiety
I asked Jamie what her advice would be to someone who is struggling with anxiety, but is also thinking about becoming pregnant. And she had so many helpful insights! First, she mentioned that if you’re already looking into anxiety management help before becoming pregnant, you’re on the right track! You’re coming from a place of self-awareness, which is incredibly important when it comes to anxiety recovery. When you have the awareness to consider how pregnancy may affect you, Jamie says you’re being mindful, which is great!
Jamie thinks that the best first step is to open up to your medical providers about your anxiety concerns. After all, doctors and therapists are on your side, and they want to help! And when they have a better picture of what your concerns are, they will be able to support you that much more.
Fear of Heightened Anxiety or Panic Attacks in Pregnancy
So many women fear that becoming pregnant could be the “tipping point” when it comes to their anxiety. Whether they think they’re too physically or emotionally fragile, this thought can be pretty scary! And although it's possible for people with anxiety to experience a slight worsening of symptoms during pregnancy, Jamie has some good news. According to the research, the overwhelming majority of women actually overestimate how much the symptoms of anxiety will increase during pregnancy. And when you’ve been doing the hard work to recover from anxiety, you have lots of tools in your belt that are preparing you for whatever life throws at you…including pregnancy!
Jamie says that the hormones you experience at the beginning of pregnancy can be difficult to navigate, but tend to subside as early as ten weeks. Most women will compare these hormonal symptoms to those of premenstrual syndrome. Whether you’re scared of worsening anxiety or panic attacks during pregnancy (or both), you can rest assured that there are plenty of ways to manage levels of anxiety during this transitional time.
Anxiety Medication During Pregnancy
During our conversation, Jamie said that many women have the misconception that they need to come off of their anxiety medication during pregnancy. Some don’t realize that medication is even an option! But Jamie assures us that many patients can (and choose to) stay on anxiety medication throughout their pregnancy. She says that by and large, the medical community believes that medications like antidepressants are safe to take during pregnancy.
The unknowns of pregnancy can feel pretty scary when you’re struggling with anxiety. But I want you to know that the fact that you’re struggling now doesn’t mean that you will struggle more during pregnancy, if at all! And, of course, consult your doctor with any concerns you may have. But don’t forget that you are strong enough to become a mom, anxiety and all!
Make sure to listen to the podcast episode for my full conversation with Jamie!