Anxiety before Appointments


It is common to feel a bit nervous before going to the doctor. People may experience pre-appointment anxiety for many reasons such as getting test results or learning about a new health condition for either themselves or their baby. Anxiety often comes from feelings of uncertainty. The good thing is, at appointments providers typically give you information, which can help reduce uncertainty and anxiety. You may notice when you feel nervous that your heart rate increases or your breathing is shallow. This means that your “fight or flight” system is activated, and is a great opportunity to pause and engage in deep breathing.

Ease Your Anxiety in the Moment: Deep Breathing

Deep breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, engages the “rest and digest” system in your body and calms the “fight or flight” system. Deep breathing may seem challenging at first, but it will get easier with practice!

Instructions for Deep Breathing

Start by placing one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. 

Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth at your own pace, or if it’s helpful, count to four in your head. 

1-2-3-4 in. 

1-2-3-4 out. 

As you inhale, bring the air all the way down to your belly, imagining your belly blowing up like a balloon. 

As you exhale, breathe out through your mouth gently enough to flicker a candle but not blow it out, and imagine your belly button being pulled by a string back to your spine. 

Continue this breath into your belly so that your chest doesn’t move much at all. Your breath is always with you - you can do this anywhere, anytime.

For more information on caring for yourself, please see postpartum self-care under "Resources".