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There’s many times in pregnancy when you may feel pushed to your limit.

If you have pregnant anxiety, this can make your mental health even worse. The solution? Better boundaries. Setting boundaries can help you take ownership of the factors you can control.

In this guide, we’re discussing 7 ways you can use boundaries to reduce your pregnant anxiety. Since boundaries can feel awkward to enforce, we’re also sharing 31 phrases you can memorize and repeat.

Pregnant with Anxiety

If you’re pregnant with anxiety, know that you’re far from alone. Over half of women report increases in anxiety or depression while pregnant, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA).

Pregnancy anxiety is often marked by constant worrying, mood changes, and other symptoms, like fatigue or irritability. Your anxiety can affect your enjoyment of pregnancy, your work life, and relationships.

Factors that make you more likely to be pregnant and anxious include:

  • Having a history of anxiety or depression
  • Having a high-risk or complicated pregnancy
  • Having prior miscarries
  • A tendency toward perfectionism
  • Relationship stressors
  • Financial stressors

While many people experience pregnant anxiety at some point, high levels could indicate an anxiety disorder. If you think you have an anxiety disorder, talk to your doctor. Counseling or therapy is often recommended. Some anti-anxiety medications are also safe during pregnancy.

To learn more about being pregnant with anxiety, read our guides:

The Role of Boundaries with Pregnant Anxiety

When you’re dealing with pregnant anxiety, you’re probably already trying to do everything right. If you’re a perfectionist, you might constantly worry that you’ve eaten the wrong food or have done something to jeopardize your baby. Perhaps you’re constantly beating yourself up for any perceived mistake. You might even be hard on yourself for being pregnant with anxiety.

In any case, you’re already struggling with anxiety—you don’t need anyone else to add to it. Small comments or nagging questions may inflame your already-nervous mind. The solution is to set boundaries.

Boundaries are limits or invisible lines that you make clear to others. Setting boundaries involve openly communicating what’s okay and what’s not okay. It may also involve saying “no” or making it clear when someone has crossed a line. Setting and keeping boundaries is a way to protect your mental health. Boundaries can include:

  • Physical boundaries— For example, let’s say a stranger asks to touch your baby and that makes you uncomfortable. In this case, setting boundaries would mean stepping away and saying “no thanks.”
  • Emotional boundaries—For example, let’s say you’re in an argument with your partner and they blame your “pregnancy hormones” for your “crazy” behavior. In this case, setting boundaries would mean saying something like, “It’s okay for you to be upset with me, but it’s not okay for you to make those comments about my pregnancy.”
  • Sexual boundaries— For example, let’s say your pregnancy libido is changing and you don’t want sex but you know your partner does. In this case, setting boundaries would mean saying “not tonight.”

Boundaries may feel awkward and uncomfortable. And if a person challenges your boundaries, you might feel selfish and guilty at first. But with practice, they can limit your anxiety, reduce mental clutter, and lead to a more enjoyable pregnancy.

7 Boundaries to Reduce Pregnant Anxiety + 31 Phrases To Help

If you have pregnant anxiety, dealing with difficult situations can be overwhelming. Sometimes, you might feel it’s easier just to let people walk all over your boundaries. Unfortunately, though, that can make you feel even more anxious and unhappy. Other people fail to enforce their boundaries in the moment, freeze, and later regret not standing up for themselves.

If you’re pregnant with anxiety, it can help to have a few boundary phrases in your back pocket. Remembering these phrases can help you enforce your boundaries, reducing your anxiety. It also gives you your own voice, growing your confidence.

Boundary: Asking to Touch Baby Belly

There’s nothing wrong with liking or disliking when people touch your baby belly. However, if you’re uncomfortable, you don’t need to stand there as they rub your stomach. Instead, you can assert your boundaries and keep your personal space. Whenever there’s an unwelcome hands-on hello, you have every right to draw the line.

Sometimes, people may ask to touch your belly. Other times, they may go ahead without permission. If they touch without permission, physically remove their hand, take a step back, or stand up. If someone asks to touch and you’re uncomfortable, try the phrases below.

Boundary Phrases to Memorize:

  • “I’d rather you didn’t touch my belly.”
  • “No thanks, I’ve had my daily dose of belly rubs.”
  • “I appreciate your care, but I’m sensitive to touch right now.”
  • “Sorry, but I don’t like people touching my belly. My motherly instincts have kicked in already.”
  • “Would you like to talk to my baby instead? She responds better to sounds.”

Boundary: Unsolicited Pregnancy Advice

When you’re pregnant, it seems everyone’s an obstetrician ready to dole out advice. This can be annoying to anyone, but those with anxiety about pregnancy can be more affected by it. You don’t need anyone feeding into your worries about things you should or shouldn’t eat. And when you’re already obsessed with doing everything right, you don’t need anyone to encourage your perfectionism.

Boundary Phrases to Memorize:

  • “Sorry, but I’m getting a lot of advice and I can’t listen to it all because it’s overwhelming.”
  • “Thanks for sharing, but I prefer to listen to my doctor.”
  • “I know you’re trying to help, but the advice only makes me more anxious.”

Boundary: Telling Labor Horror Stories

Now that you’re pregnant, it may seem like everyone is itching to tell their labor horror stories. If you have pregnant anxiety, these should be off-limits.

Hearing their labor tales could make you even more anxious for delivery. But how do you say “be quiet” without feeling rude? Interrupt their story and try the phrases below.

Boundary Phrases to Memorize:

  • “I’d love to hear this story, but can we wait until after I’ve given birth?”
  • “I’m feeling really anxious about giving birth and I know you don’t mean to, but stories like this make it worse.”
  • “I’m sorry you had a bad experience, I’m just trying to focus on having a good one so I can’t entertain those types of stories.”
  • “I’m scared for labor already and I need to hear positive stories only.”
  • “I’m trying to keep a positive mindset about labor, so I try not to listen to other people’s stories right now.”

Boundary: Personal Questions

Although they can be well-meaning, personal questions can take a toll, especially if you have pregnancy anxiety. You might get questions like, “how long did it take you to conceive?” or “Are you having a natural birth?” Those in same-sex relationships or struggling with fertility can get additional questions like, “how did you conceive?”

When you’re trying to stay in the moment, intrusive questions can wreck your calm and feel prying.

Boundary Phrases to Memorize:

  • “It’s a little personal to answer but thanks for caring.”
  • “We’re focused less on the details and more on enjoying the pregnancy.”
  • “We don’t really talk about things like that.”
  • “We’re not ready to share that yet.”
  • “We’ll just say we’re really lucky to be pregnant.”

Boundary: Pushing Plans On You

Sometimes family members attempt to make pregnancy plans for you. For example, your mother might say, “you can’t announce your pregnancy until week X” or “we will be in the birthing room with you.” They might also insist on visiting right after the baby is born or plan for your labor to be medication-free.

When people try to override your plans with their own, it can spike your pregnant anxiety. How can you tell them to stop?

Boundary Phrases to Memorize:

  • “My partner and I are still deciding those things.”
  • “I’m comfortable with the plan in place.”
  • “I’m not sure how I’ll feel then, so I’ll let you know at that time.”
  • “I have my own ideas about that, but I’ll let you know if I need some input.”

Boundary: Asking You To Do Things

During pregnancy, you have a lot to prepare for and the added fatigue makes it hard to get things done. If you’re pregnant with anxiety, a growing to-do list could make you even more anxious.

Instead of relaxing, you may be spending your much-needed energy doing things you don’t want or need to do. The solution is to say “no” more often. Whether it’s making cookies for a bake sale, going to a friend’s party, or taking on your co-worker’s work, learn how to say no.

Boundary Phrases to Memorize:

  • “I would love to, but it’s not something I can handle now.”
  • “I don’t want to let you down but I have a lot on my plate, so I can’t.”
  • “Pregnancy is taking a toll. But please reach out to me again after the baby.”
  • “If I had more energy, I would! But right now, it’s not possible for me.”

Boundary: Photos + Announcements on Social Media

When it comes to your pregnancy and birth, what information are you comfortable sharing? When do you want it shared? Who do you want it shared by?

With social media, it can be harder to keep things private. And if that makes your pregnant anxiety worse, you need to set boundaries.

Try to be clear with others about what’s okay and not okay to share. If you share your pregnancy announcement with a small group of friends, tell them not to post the news anywhere. Want your baby shower photos private? Tell them you have a no-picture policy. Do you want to be the first to post photos of your baby? Make that clear to those who see you after delivery.

Boundary Phrases to Memorize:

  • “We want to keep the news private. Please don’t post about it online.”
  • “I’m not comfortable with you taking photos.”
  • “I love that you want to take photos because it means something special to you. But we have a no-picture policy to keep things private.”
  • “Please don’t share those pictures on social media.”
  • “We want to announce things on our own timeline. Please don’t post anything until we give you the ‘okay.’”

Summary: Reduce Pregnant Anxiety with Boundaries

Pushing anyone’s boundaries can create friction and result in a less enjoyable pregnancy. If you’re pregnant with anxiety, the impact can be even worse. Birthing horror stories, incessant questions, and people overriding your plans can skyrocket your anxiety.

Learning how to set boundaries is a good way to reduce anxiety and take ownership of the factors you can control. Memorize a few phrases on this list and use them whenever you feel someone is crossing a line.

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