4 Tips for Expectant Parents Struggling with Anxiety
- Amanda Idleman Contributing Writer
- Updated Oct 15, 2023
If you are an expectant parent feeling anxious, know that you are not alone! Feeling unsure about this massive life change is normal, healthy, and warranted. I am a mom to four kids, and actually, I felt more anxious with the news that we would be welcoming our second, third, and fourth child into our home. With knowledge comes, well, more anxiety!
Isaiah 40:11 says, "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." God promises to graciously lead us that are caring for children. He knows this is a sometimes scary journey and offers us wisdom, comfort, and peace along the way.
We can trust God to help us navigate this chaotic world even when we face circumstances that feel like more than we can manage on our own. He carries us through. You can find rest in the promises of the Lord.
Here are some tips to help ease your mind as you welcome a precious new little one into your home.
1. Create Family Rhythms of Rest
Adding a human to your family is exhausting!
Babies require around-the-clock care, and if you already have older children, they keep needing you too! The best thing you can do for your new family is to make space for rest. Take as much time off as possible from work, don't overcommit by adding extra projects to your plate, and be cautious about overscheduling your nights and weekends.
Our culture rushes families back into life way too quickly when a baby is added to the home! There are many important reasons to resist the urge to check those work emails, plan playdates, or feel pressure to keep your house perfectly clean. Rest helps Mom avoid postpartum depression. One in seven new moms are at risk of developing this difficult condition in our country. We need time and space to process the huge change our lives, bodies, minds, and souls have undergone when our family grows. Rest is key in allowing parents to do this important work.
Rest also helps you recover physically, as giving birth or welcoming a child into your home through foster care or adoption is physically draining. Your body needs downtime to recover from the work of adding a new child into your home. You will never regret fiercely protecting this time and space for the sake of your family.
God is the author and creator of new life. Even when our circumstances may not seem ideal, maybe we are entering parenthood without a partner, facing uncertain medical circumstances, without the financial means we hoped for, or at an unexpected time. Even when your life feels ready for a child, anxiety is hard to shake when preparing for such a huge life change. Yet, God has created your child for such a time as this, and he has chosen you to be their parent.
Whenever we face fear, anxiety, and other uncertainties, most of us first respond with "how can I fix it on my own" mode. As Christ-followers, we are invited to take a different path. 1 Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for us." God lets us bring it all to him and begin to trust that he will walk us through this next season. Ultimately he is the caretaker of our children. He knows the number of hairs on their head and has a plan for them. We can begin to pray that they will have a hope and a future, no matter what parenthood may look like for you.
3. Gather a Village
With my third pregnancy, I experienced nearly debilitating waves of anxiety. Something about my fears about giving birth, along with the hormones in my body, led to regular panic attacks and a deep struggle to find joy in that otherwise beautiful season. I share this because I needed help to walk through that season well. I chose not to get on anxiety medication, so instead, I enlisted the help of the midwife, psychologist, counselor, herbalist, husband, friends, and more! I had people praying for me; I was taking crazy tinctures, exercising often, seeing a counselor, using essential oils, committed to daily prayer and meditation, and more. It was a tough thing to overcome the struggle that was going on in my mind and body during that time, and I truly needed a village to see my way through.
Now I can look back and praise God because during my labor, the thing I was most afraid of, I felt nothing but peace. I was able to have an uncomplicated and unmedicated birth because God is sufficient to meet all my needs with abundance. I will forever look back on the birth of my daughter as an amazing testimony of God's faithfulness in helping me walk through fear and anxiety.
Parenthood requires more than parents. You need people in your community to support you and your children along the way. Start reaching out and gathering a village to help you on this journey. If it's a difficult pregnancy, mental health struggles, financial uncertainty, a lack of friendships, or one of the many other things that can keep you awake at night - don't wait to start seeking the support you need.
4. Remember There Is No Perfect Way to Parent
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/StefaNikolic
God does not require perfection to make beautiful things out of our lives. If we feel like we are not enough for this role, that's okay; you don't have to be! You only need to know the God who is able to make beauty from ashes. We see pictures and even hear from others about the best ways to parent, but truly there are so many ways to do this job well.
In our parenting journey, we have had babies that spent their first year in daycare while we both worked full time, and with our other kids, I stayed home when they became part of our family. Both of these scenarios had pros and cons, and our kids thrived when we both worked outside the home full time and when one parent was home full time.
I had the privilege of nursing my three biological children, but with our adopted son, that was not possible. By God's grace, all of our children are healthy and happy, and we enjoyed watching them all grow equally. There was beauty in nursing and beauty in both my husband and I being able to feed and care for our infant son too.
The point is there is no perfect way to parent. You have to follow your gut and do what works best for your family. Guilt is an easy way for the enemy to steal our joy. As long as we are offering our children love and care, we are being faithful to the call God has on our lives as parents. If you are struggling with thoughts of fear at this moment, do what you can to honor your limits, lean into your story, avoid comparison, and just do your best to love your people well. You got this.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/doble-d
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God's Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.