Going in for scans and appointments can be terrifying when you are pregnant after loss, or thinking about it.
Today I’ve put together everything you need to help lower the fear factor on heading to check ups after miscarriage, stillbirth or any other loss.
Just fill out this form to download your Scanxiety Cheat Sheet so you have all the tools you need to stay calm for your next appointment.
Welcome friends. I am so happy you are here. If you are new, let me introduce myself. I’m Amy Watson. I am a life coach, and specifically I am a life after baby loss coach. I trained through the life coach school, and I also trained through the school of hard knocks. I lost my daughter Lauren over eight years ago, and ever since have been grieving and learning how to grieve and processing through grief.
We also had another loss. Um, at 14 weeks and that was our baby river as well as two living rainbow babies and my four children who were born before who I have been parenting after loss. So I have a lot of experience and I understand a lot of what you’re going through, and I know that I have the tools to help you because the thing is nobody teaches us how to deal with grief until we’re in it, and it’s really hard to navigate when you.
You don’t really know what to do, and so I wanna be that guide for you. I wanna help you figure out what to do. I wanna show you the way, I wanna help it to be easier and less painful to work through your grief and your healing and moving forward. And. And so, so many things. So I appreciate you being here so, so much.
If you love this podcast, I’d love to ask you to review it, to share it with friends who you think would benefit from it. If you’re in any support groups and you think, wow, they need to hear these tools, I would love if you would share it, that would mean so much to me because I want everyone who has had to say goodbye to a.
Wanted loved baby to know that there is so much joy out there for you. And also it’s okay to grieve. Grief is, grief is not a problem. Let we talk a lot about grief and all those emotions here too. I wanted to tell you a little bit about my last pregnancy. That was my son and he is now four, but. As I went into that pregnancy, I knew it was gonna be high risk.
I knew that I was gonna have lots of extra appointments. I knew there would be a lot of driving because we are about an hour away from the hospital that has maternal fetal medicine. And I just, I knew it. I had been through loss, pregnancy after loss, another loss, and. This was gonna be our last pregnancy, and I was prepared for that.
During my few pregnant, well, actually starting with Lauren’s pregnancy, I had had slightly elevated blood pressure, but nothing anyone was worried about. And then, I continued in my pregnancies to have slightly high blood pressure, but no other, um, problems. As I went into this pregnancy, I was really committed to being really healthy.
I wanted to eat right and exercise and do everything I could to keep that blood pressure behaving itself. And I wanted to, you know, take care of my mental health and really work on. Enjoying this pregnancy and doing the best I could to get the baby here safely, even though I was uh, quite scared. And of course what happened was I ended up with preeclampsia and I can’t remember exactly when, but it was probably somewhere around 28 weeks.
I was diagnosed with preeclampsia, um, because of protein in the urine sample, and also high blood pressure at my non-stress tests, which we know are actually quite stressful. So I already was pregnant after two losses and had a lot, a lot going on, but now I had preeclampsia and. I ended up in the hospital on bedrest as my blood pressure did spike and we had some decreased fetal movement and all sorts of things.
I had steroid shots. I, I had all of it and I would sit there in the hospital as I was waiting and waiting and the doctors were telling me we’re gonna try to get to 34 weeks. I was about 30. Two weeks and they wanted to get to 34 weeks because they felt like that was the, the best place for baby n for me as far as our health.
And so I was just counting down the days trying to make it there, and it was. Mentally and physically? Pretty tricky. Pretty difficult. I was, um, when I first was admitted to the hospital, I was on the blood pressure cuff constantly, and every, I think 30 minutes, they were taking my blood pressure. And there’s nothing that raises your blood pressure, like worrying about your blood pressure and it, it was just, Not, not a really fun situation.
It taught me a lot the end of the story, I guess I’ll tell you the end now instead of making you wait till later. But we did end up making it to 35 weeks and we’re able to deliver him. That was also a a little bit traumatic with magnesium drip and not been able to do a lot of the things I wanted to do during the labor, but he was able to arrive safely.
And did not need NICU time, even though we had also been touring the nicu. Um, expecting that our baby would be very early, potentially with, you know, needing a little bit of extra support and that we would have some time in the nicu and trying to figure out how we would juggle that. We felt very, very lucky that everything went as well as it could considering all of those ups and downs.
So I just want you guys to know. As I, you know, that is like the Cliff Notes version of that pregnancy, and there’s a couple of other, two other pregnancy officer lost that I could tell you all about. But I want you to understand that I, I’ve been there, I have been through a lot physically and mentally and emotionally, and so when I talk about pregnancy after loss, know that.
What I wanna teach you comes from my heart because I know how hard it was for me because I didn’t really have anyone to guide me through that. And I wanna be that for you. I have a lot of tips here that have come from my own experience and from my training, and I know they’re gonna be helpful for you.
I’m gonna dive into these tips on how to deal with scan anxiety or. Scanxiety. I don’t know how you pronounce this word, but I see it going around, so I decided to use it. Scan anxiety. I’m just going to use as any anxiety you have about going in for an ultrasound or a test or even just a doctor’s appointment.
I’ve talked about anxiety during pregnancy, after loss, just in general, like overarching anxiety, but I know that going into the doctor is. Really triggering for a lot of people, and that’s why I wanted to do an episode just on this type of anxiety. The first part I wanna talk about is just the reality of your body and your nervous system and trauma and how that affects.
This experience for you? There is a thing called white coat syndrome. It means that your blood pressure rises when you go to the doctor. And this is for a lot of people for a lot of reasons, but I think especially for pregnancy after loss, this can be very, very common because we need to go back to the place where our trauma occurred.
Or it can be very like deja vu, right? You’re. You’re in the same office, you’re in the same hospital, you’re with the same doctor potentially, and so it’s gonna bring up all those memories and you’re, you’re afraid, right? You’re worried about another loss. You’re worried about yourself. You’re own health.
You’re worried that the baby won’t be okay. This is perceived danger. Your brain is perceiving danger. It’s saying, whoa, I’ve been here before and it was not. A good time. Um, something bad happened here. It seems dangerous, so I’m gonna freak out a little bit. What we need to do is learn to calm that nervous system.
I talk a lot about mindset, and I’m gonna talk about mindset later, but it’s really important first to calm that nervous system down so that you can even try to think differently about this. So the first thing I want you to do is love yourself within this trauma state. This is normal. This is natural.
This is your body and your brain doing what they are supposed to do. I want you to thank your body for trying to keep you safe. Nothing has gone wrong. If you, if your blood pressure rises when you go to the doctor, if you feel butterflies in your stomach, if you start sweating right, if all of those responses are happening in your body, that’s what’s supposed to happen.
When your body senses danger, the first thing we try to do is we’re like, this is a problem. This is a problem. I need to fix it. I shouldn’t be this scared. I shouldn’t be this anxious. No, you should be. Because you are. Can you love yourself in it? Can you love yourself through it? I want you to know that it will end, right?
That trauma state can’t stay there forever. That does. That’s just not how our bodies function. So know that yes, I’m really, really nervous before I go into my appointment. I’m really, really nervous about the, uh, anatomy scan, right? I’m really nervous about whatever tests I’m getting today, but know that this is going to end.
You’re not gonna be this afraid for now if it’s not ending. If you find yourself in that heightened physical trauma state for a prolonged period of time where you feel like you are having panic attacks, you can’t handle it. Please go and get help. Find a coach, a therapist, or even go to your doctor and say, I might need a medication or something to help me manage this.
Level of anxiety. There are a lot of ways that we can calm our nervous system. It could be, usually it needs to be in our body. Like I said, it’s not something you can think your way out of or say mantras or repeat things in your head. Like if you don’t feel safe, you’re not gonna be able to make those thoughts work.
So dance. Sing, uh, listen to loud music. Do whatever you need to do in your body. There’s tapping, there’s breathing. There’s so many ways that you can calm down your nervous system. There’s great books. There’s YouTube videos. Like, I really want you to find something that works for you. It could even be like exercising right before you go or.
Just anything that gets you out of your brain and into your body, and you need to keep reminding yourself that you, you are safe, even though your brain is reacting normally. If you wanna calm it down, you can. All right, so let’s talk about the way we are thinking. Um, another thing that will help with this scan anxiety is, To decrease the noise that is coming into our mind.
It is okay to step back from places that are too much. So if you are in pregnancy after loss groups, you need to evaluate, is this helping me? Which it can help you, but other times it’s like being in these support groups. Am I learning too much? Do I know too much? Am I hearing about too many ways babies can die?
Can I, you know, minimize some of that noise that’s coming in? There is no guilt necessary. You can just leave. You have to take care of your own mental health. You have to take care of you, your family, your, your new baby. That’s it, and the rest of it is fine. I wanna talk about the waiting room now. A lot of people are really upset by pregnant people or having to sit in a waiting room.
With other people who are seemingly happy and pregnant and everything looks great. I’m just gonna give you some tough love here because this is really how I feel. Take it or leave it. But I really don’t have a problem with pregnant people, especially at an OB G Y N office. They are supposed to be there.
They’re supposed to be there. They’re just getting a checkup and you have no idea what they’ve been through. I know what it’s like to sit there and feel like everybody else is happy, everybody’s life is great, and you are sitting here like an anxious mess, and you just wanna run away from it. There’s no power in that.
What’s empowering is to learn that pregnant people are not dangerous. They’re just pregnant people. They’re not a threat to you. They can’t make you jealous. They can’t make you angry. They can’t make it worse. They’re just pregnant people in an OB G Y N office or a midwife office or wherever you go. So just let them be there and just take care of you.
This is really, really important. You’ve got enough going on. Just let the pregnant people be there. I promise. It’s a lot easier, more information. Is actually better. A lot of times we feel like going into a scan and knowing all the things that could go wrong or knowing what we’ve been through, knowing what happened last time, that this is a bad thing, that life would be better if we didn’t know.
But I want you to use this information and let yourself be a mama bear. Take what you’ve learned. Take what you’ve heard from other people. Take all of it. Take your experience and use it to stand up for yourself and your baby. Use that information. Don’t tell yourself that it is making this worse. I know it’s scary to know personally that babies die.
I get it, but this is your reality. So you get to choose what you do with the information you have. You can use it against yourself, or you can use it for yourself. Next, I want you to create some support, bring people with you. Now, if you are still dealing with covid things or different rules, or you’ve got like a partner who works, you know, my husband often could not come to appointments, like it was just something I needed to do by myself.
Make yourself a support. Network, use technology, get on FaceTime, have a friend on speed dial and, and just prep them and say, Hey, I’m going in for my appointment. If anything happens, can I call you? Ask your family and friends to pray for you. Pray yourself. Um, take your l other children if you have other children.
I think this can be a great distraction, right? And can help. Settle your anxiety. Now. I know we’re afraid to take our kids cuz what if we get bad news? Um, it’s totally up to you. But sometimes just taking your, your other children can be a really good thing. You could also post in your Rainbow Baby group, tell them what’s going on.
Ask them for some love. Um, tell your coach if you have a coach, right? Like me, I love it when my clients email me or DM me or whatever and say, Hey, I’ve got this thing today. And I will be thinking about them and I will check on them. This is something I love, I love to do. I’m actually, if you decide to work with me, watch out because I will still check on you forever.
Cause I just love to know what’s going on with you and how things are. So be prepared to, uh, send me updates if we work together. Another way to decrease your scan anxiety is to have a goal for the scan. Have a goal for this appointment. Why are you there? What is your why? What do you wanna find out? What do you wanna know?
Get some questions together beforehand. A lot of times, again, when we’re in kind of that trauma state, we’re gonna forget what we wanted to say. Get those questions ready and say, this is what I want to get out of this appointment. And maybe it’s just, I just wanna hear the heartbeat, that’s all. If I can just hear the heartbeat, that is enough, and the rest of it is just gravy.
But have that goal so you have something to focus on instead of just focusing on being nervous. Think about what you’re excited to find out and hear and see. This is another one that I think a lot of people in pregnancy after loss feel like they, that’s been taken away from them. They can’t be excited they, or they can’t be as excited, right, because they’re so scared.
But it’s up to you to focus on what you want. And to think about what are you excited to find out, to hear and to see, get lots of pictures. I remember in my pregnancies, after loss, every, every time I could, I was like, give me all the pictures. And normally I’m kind of a quiet, like I wouldn’t. Say that or ask extra for them, but I sure did In my pregnancy after loss, I was just like, that’s my goal.
I’m gonna get all the pictures I can of this baby so that if anything happens, I will have, I will have them. Um, because with River that is all I had was one, one set of ultrasound pictures from one ultrasound we had at about 11 weeks, and I treasure those. So that can be your goal. Just be like, I’m gonna record this.
I’m gonna get pictures. I’m going to, I’m gonna do whatever I need to do. Something else that really, really will help is to. Trust that you will handle any new information. You get beyond everything looks great. That’s kind of what we always want to hear. We wanna hear everything looks great. Nothing to report.
Um, we want normal, boring pregnancies. Or at least that’s, that’s what I always wanted. I was like, boring is good. I will take boring. But I want you to trust that you are gonna handle any other information you get besides boring. If there’s something going on with the baby, if there’s something going on with you, if there’s something they wanna watch, if you know, whatever it is, trust yourself that you’re gonna handle that new information when it comes to you, and choose to believe that everything is great until you hear otherwise, right?
We’re really good at making up all these problems or these symptoms or these things that are maybe not really happening, but we’re just really, really worried about it. And I want you to trust your gut, and if you notice anything that you feel is off, get in there and talk to someone. Go to labor and delivery.
Go to your doctor. Call someone for sure. But I want you to choose to believe that everything is great until you hear otherwise. And know that if you get that new information, that’s when you’ll deal with it. I think in our mind, our brain, again, trying to protect us is coming up with all these scenarios.
And usually worst case scenarios of what we would do and how we would feel if we got bad news, right, or if we got concerning news. But I don’t think it’s useful, and I think it just drains your emotional energy that you need to take care of you and to take care of this baby. So choose to wait. Wait until you have other news to worry about other news and know that a lot of times it’s not as bad as you think.
If you get information, you just deal with it. Like when I got diagnosed with preeclampsia, I didn’t really see that coming. I, I mean, I had some risk factors, but I also didn’t have a lot of the other risk factors and. So I wasn’t really super worried about it. And then when it happened, it’s like, okay, now what do we do?
How do we handle this? What are our choices? And we just went from there and we took it step by step. And that’s what I want you to do too. Take it step by step, break it down. Don’t look too far forward. Another question that is really gonna help you is to ask yourself, how can this be a way to bond with my baby?
How can this scan be a memory that we make together, right? With your partner? Hopefully you can have, you know, other people there, maybe family, and you get to bond with your baby. We’re so lucky that we get to have all these scans, and a lot of times if you are in pregnancy after loss and you have maybe extra scans, I know that that was one side benefit of what we call high risk pregnancy, which I would prefer to call extra care pregnancy, but I was like, I’m gonna get to see my baby so many times.
And I knew that the maternal fetal medicine had like a 3D ultrasound that our little small town clinic didn’t have. And so I was like, oh, I’m gonna get that 3D ultrasound. That’s gonna be so cool. So how is this a way to bond with your baby? I want you to let yourself think about how you want to tell the story of this pregnancy when your baby is born.
Focus on the future. Like let yourself dream as you go into these scans. Do you wanna say, I was petrified and I hated every minute of it, but it was worth it. You might say that. Or do you wanna tell the story like I savored every second I had with you little baby. It’s totally up to you. There’s no wrong way to do it, but I want you to think about that.
Think about how you’re gonna tell the story of this pregnancy and what you can do to create that for yourself. Because you do have so much more control than you think over how this experience goes. Something I really want you to remember here is other people get awards for doing things that are scary, like soldiers, the police, firemen, they are heroes and so are you.
You are doing the thing that scares you for the good of your child and your family, right? You are. Going into somewhere that your brain is flashing red lights, danger, danger, danger, and you’re doing it anyways. But no one really gives us an award for this, and we judge ourselves for it. And we tell ourselves we shouldn’t be scared.
We tell ourselves this should be fun and exciting. Maybe it shouldn’t. Maybe it’s always gonna be scary to go in for scans. What would be different if you were okay with that? How much easier would. Appointments be if you drop the part where you fight the fear. Have you ever been on like a really high Zipline course?
No matter how excited you are to do it, your brain is gonna freak out a little because of the heights and not knowing if the harness is a hundred percent safe or if the guy at the end is gonna catch you or if your hair is gonna get stuck in the wheels. But we’re not mad about being nervous as we climb those stairs to the zip line platform.
Our friends might even tease us or remind us that it’s totally safe and we’re still scared, but it’s okay. This is just like going in for a scan or a checkup. There are ways we can calm our nervous system. There are ways we can manage our mind and the way we are thinking that will absolutely make it better.
But I think the real power comes from being willing to feel any emotion, even nervous, scared, or petrified. Yes, it comes from your brain, and that’s okay. The reality is you probably want to go to your appointments, but I want you to know that you always have choices. You have the option to skip them. You could go to zero appointments.
You could not even. Like tell a doctor at all that you’re, you’re pregnant, or tell anyone, you could just bury your head in the sand and go through this pregnancy. You have that option, but you are choosing to go. I want you to own that choice. Going to prenatal appointments isn’t something that’s being forced on you is something that you want to do, and that gives you your power back.
My challenge for anyone dealing with this now, Or who wants to be in the future, is to choose something that makes you nervous, that you do anyway, something that gives you all the butterflies, but you’ve lived through it. So think about that. Think about something that makes you nervous, but you do it.
Whether it’s like speaking in front of people or performing or is something at work, whatever it is, and notice how you live through it. You live through the scary thing like riding a zipline. Nerves are just information, emotions are not gonna kill you or your baby. They are just sensations in your body and they won’t last forever.
Trust that when you get information that needs to be acted on, you will do it. Then at that time, you don’t need to worry about it beforehand. Course, you’ll act on that information. You are an amazing mama. With all that being said, I hope you’ll also allow some excitement to come in as well if you break it down.
Excitement and anxiety actually feel really similar in our bodies. We’ve got butterflies in our stomach, restless legs, rapid breathing, maybe buzzing in our extremities. It’s really a similar sensation in our body, so maybe you’re not noticing the excitement because it’s a little bit covered up by the anxiety.
But it feels a lot the same. You can do this. You really, really can, and you don’t have to just white knuckle through it. If you need some help learning how to manage your scan anxiety, I’d love to coach you through it in my Pregnancy After Loss program, you’ll make a plan to deal with appointments. We’ll figure out what helps settle down your nerves and even work towards letting yourself be excited to see baby and to hear the heartbeat.
I, I want you to know that it’s possible for you. You can do this, and to make it easier, I’ve taken everything from this episode, which I know it was a lot, but I took everything from this episode and I put it into a one page sheet sheet. It’s got all the things I taught you today and 17 tips to help you with your scan anxiety.
All you need to do is. Go in the show notes, there’ll be a link there, or go to smooth stones coaching.com/seven three and that will be right there for you to download and scan. Anxiety can be a thing that is not a problem for you anymore. I’m so excited for you and I will see you next time. I wish you the most.
Special day of Thanksgiving. I hope that you can see some things in your life that you’re grateful for. I am grateful for you. Thank you so much for being here. I love you. Okay, bye.