As I’ve written about before on this blog, one of the privileges of being the position of guiding people through the darkest aspects of their psyche and soul is that they share thoughts and feelings with me that they wouldn’t share with anyone else. Part of the reason why they share openly about these shadow regions is because they trust that I rarely take these thoughts and feelings at face value. So when I hear, “I’m scared I’m going to harm a child” or “I’m scared I’m with the wrong partner”, they know from reading my blog, even before we speak, that I’m interested in unpacking the metaphor that’s coded inside these common intrusive thoughts. In other words, they implicitly trust that I’m not going to assume that they’re a terrible person for thinking the thoughts that have plagued them with shame for as long as they can remember.

Perhaps of all of the thoughts and feelings that I hear, the one that brings a level of shame and sheer terror hitherto unknown, the one that brings women literally to their knees is, “I’m pregnant and I don’t want this baby.” Now it’s not just that their anxiety may wreak havoc on their own psyche, but the churning waves of terror and the feeling of entrapment directly effect other people: not only their partner but also the life growing inside of them. And that’s exactly the point. When pregnancy anxiety hits it’s often connected to the blinding awareness that a woman’s life – her body, her time, her freedom – are no longer her own. Some common statements I hear along these lines are:

  • I feel like I’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
  • I don’t want this.
  • I love my life; I’m not ready to give it up.
  • I hate that there’s a person growing inside me every day.
  • I feel like there’s an alien growing inside me.
  • My body isn’t mine anymore.
  • My life isn’t my own anymore.
  • I feel like my entire self has disappeared and I don’t know who I am.

Last September 2016, a woman named “Sam” contacted me in pure panic. Newly pregnant, she was full of terror and regret and was convinced that the only solution was to end the pregnancy. I immediately put her in contact with “Clara”, a very wise woman who went through pregnancy anxiety years earlier and shares some of her story in the Break Free From Relationship Anxiety E-Course interviews, and also urged her to sign up for the Birthing a New Mother E-Course.  Sam emailed me back a few days later:

Thank you so much for putting me in contact with someone who has been through what I am going through at the moment. I’m also going to enroll onto your course this week. This has given me a little hope that maybe I can get through this immense turmoil. 
I haven’t had a termination yet, although I do keep thinking that this is my only way out. I’m feeling so much anxiety, fear and panic that I’m struggling to function day to day. This was meant to be a happy time, but instead I’m full of grief for the old life I’m leaving behind, the life I could have had and the responsibility of another human being. I feel so overwhelmed I’m unable to think straight. If I had known getting pregnant would induce such intense feelings, I would never have considered it.
I do hope I can get through this with the help of your course. I wish more people would recognise the intense anxiety that life transitions can cause – maybe then people like me wouldn’t feel so alone and isolated. You do amazing work – please don’t ever give it up.
Sam xx

There are almost no words to describe the level of panic, sheer terror, and shame that ensue when pregnancy anxiety hits full force. Especially if the pregnancy was planned or even mostly planned (“we’ll just stop using birth control and see what happens”), the terror and subsequent regret that hit are nothing short of soul-shocking. Many of the clients I’ve worked who have struggled with pregnancy anxiety share that they had envisioned having children for a long time, often since they were young. They assumed, especially based on the images of pregnancy bliss that our cultural disseminates, that a positive pregnancy test would bring peels of joy and are stunned when nausea, regret, and panic arise instead. And to make matters worse, nobody talks about pregnancy anxiety. It’s another one of those highly taboo topics that gets shoved under the cultural rock where it molds into shame. The disparity between their personal expectations and the reality, compounded by the expectations of our culture, is enough to send them into an emotional and psychological hell-realm.

And that’s when Fear jumps into the picture. Good-old Fear, who we know is only trying to keep us safe from risk, begins to whisper then chatter then scream into consciousness. Fear simply cannot tolerate the level of feelings that are suddenly churning inside. It cannot handle standing on the precipice of the unknown. Fear, and its buddy, Ego, long to live in the known realm and will do anything possible to turn back time and avoid change. It’s this voice that wreaks havoc on the newly pregnant woman’s mind, and tells her day and night that she’s made a horrible mistake and the only solution is to terminate.

Here are some typical lines that Fear uses around pregnancy anxiety to try to convince a newly pregnant woman that she’s made a mistake:

  • I wouldn’t feel this way if I was older.
  • I wouldn’t feel this way if we had been together longer.
  • This isn’t really what I want deep down.
  • I’m not ready. I thought I was but I’m not.
  • I need more time.
  • I got pregnant for the wrong reasons.

Please keep in mind that this is in no way a conversation about whether it’s right or wrong to terminate a pregnancy. Rather, just like ending a loving romantic partnership because of anxiety only leads to more anxiety, so ending a wanted pregnancy because fear is telling you you’ve made a mistake will only create a different storyline for anxiety to hang is hat on. As I write about all the time, when we listen to fear and believe that ending a relationship or pregnancy will end the anxiety, we’re only setting ourselves up for more anxiety. There is no escape hatch from your inner world; your fear, grief, and vulnerability need your attention and they will knock in the doors of psyche until you stop long enough to listen.

What I always impart to clients who are struggling through those early stages of terror and panic is that the fear hits every mother at some point, and that, just like engagement anxiety is a gift that allows the engaged woman to address the feelings associated with any death experience before she gets married so that she doesn’t fall into post-bridal depression, so those women who are hit with pregnancy anxiety are being offered, as painful as it is, an opportunity to address the magnitude of this identity earthquake early in the transition, which means that their chances of falling into postpartum depression are drastically reduced. If a simplistic definition of depression is suppressed grief, then we can understand that what the culture names as postpartum depression is, quite often (although not always), an appropriate response to the fact that a woman’s mind, body, and soul has been upended, and that’s what’s needed is an acknowledgement of these feelings and a place to express them. As I share in my Birthing a New Mother course, I’ll never forget when one of my mentors asked me in the first weeks of motherhood, “Have you had a good cry yet?” I had had many big cries, but when she asked me I felt like she was giving me permission to cry, that it was not only expected but also necessary, and with the permission any vestiges of shame were washed away. All this to say that the earlier a woman addresses the enormity of her transition into motherhood, the easier time she’ll have once the baby actually arrives.

What’s essential when pregnancy anxiety hits hard is to discipline yourself to walk yourself through the following steps. By sharing an enumerated list here by no means am I suggesting that working through pregnancy anxiety/terror is as easy as 1-2-3. Rather, if you’re suffering in this particular hell-realm, having a brief and actionable set of steps can be helpful in terms of getting through the stage where fear has taken over.

1. Normalize: If you’re suffering from pregnancy anxiety, hopefully reading this article will let you know that it’s completely normal, you’re not alone, and that it will pass through. Just like very few people talk about engagement anxiety and so the normal feelings of grief and fear mutate into anxiety and intrusive thoughts, even fewer people talk about pregnancy anxiety. The taboo around it creates a cesspool for shame. Hopefully we as a culture can start to bring more consciousness to this extremely common yet under-expressed topic.

2. Allow your fear to be here: Make a list of all of your fears. Writing them down will release them from the dangerous place of an unspoken mind where they will only fester into shame as they spiral around and around and eat their own tails. I’ve listed some of the top-layer pregnancy fears above. Here are the fears that every pregnant woman has (even if she’s not taken down by pregnancy anxiety):

  • What if I don’t love my child?
  • What if I’m a terrible mother?
  • What if I don’t want to touch my child?
  • What if I feel suffocated by motherhood?
  • What if I think my baby is ugly?
  • What if my baby looks like [a family member that I find unattractive]?

3. Allow yourself to feel the grief that lives underneath the fear: Let yourself grieve the fact that life as you’ve known it is ending. Let yourself grieve that, while you’re not literally dying, you are in the throes of an initiation which, by definition, includes a death experience as the identity and lifestyle you’ve known  is coming to an end. Recognize consciously and actively that there absolutely is a loss of independence and a loss of self, and that your partnership will undergo a radical shift as well. Cry hard. Cry every day. And every time you cry remind yourself that you’re doing the most important thing you can do to prepare for this transition. It’s okay if you’re not happy right now; you’ll have plenty of time to feel happy. It’s okay if you don’t feel “in love” with your baby right now; you’ll have plenty of time to fall in love. Every single woman I’ve ever worked with falls in love with their baby, but it might not happen during pregnancy and that’s okay.

Also, if you’re worried that your grief and crying will harm your baby – as every pregnant woman seems to do – please let that go. Your baby is safely tucked inside the miraculous grief-proof sack of the placenta and, if anything, is only served by your loving attention to your own pain. The culture sells us the bill of goods that pregnant women have to maintain a state of unblemished bliss or the baby will suffer, but nothing could be further from the truth. Your baby is fine, I promise.

When you understand that becoming a mother is the biggest transition of your life and carries the most weight by virtue of its permanency (you can leave a marriage but you can’t leave your role as mother), you can understand why terror could become unleashed like a flock of furies from the underworld. And when you understand that transitions are designed to break us open for the purpose of shedding what is no longer needed, redefining outdated contracts in our relationships, and examining and shifting harmful beliefs, we can more easily make room for the depth and magnitude of the inner work that is required in order to cross this threshold consciously and make ourselves ready for the awesome task of becoming a mother and assuming the task of raising another human being. What is being asked is seismic, and all woman in the midst of this transition are aware of level of sacrifice they must make in order to mother a new life.

Is there a tremendous sacrifice when we become mothers? Without a doubt. Motherhood asks us to turn ourselves inside out and upside down from the core. Our body first houses then nourishes another human being and our minds suffer the alterations of hormones that sometimes blur our formerly laser-clear thinking. We sacrifice time, sleep, energy, and money to nurture another human being. When the sacrifices seem too big, when the fear-mind takes over and latches onto every negative image of motherhood you’ve ever ingested, it’s essential to remember two things:

1. The sacrifice is temporary.

In the early months and years, starting with pregnancy, we give ourselves over to our children completely in every possible realm of self. We sacrifice time. We give away sleep. We let go of our pre-pregnancy bodies. We forget who we were before we had kids. Every new mother at some point says, “I don’t even know who I am anymore. I’m not the person I was before but I don’t quite know who I’m becoming.” And yet… it’s all temporary. At some point – and that point is different for every mother – we begin to reclaim aspects of ourselves. We carve out time for exercise. We have a date with our partner. We tap back into our creativity. And we realize that because of the transformational experience of becoming a mother, we are better than before. Having a child whittles life down to its essentials and the frivolous and more superficial things we prioritized no longer seem as important. With this new awareness, we focus our energy on what really matters. Sometimes this means a change in career. Sometimes it means a change in our friendships or our relationship with our mother. Whatever the changes they’re stemming from a clarified sense of self and a strengthened identity. This is one of the many gifts of motherhood.

2. The sacrifices pale in comparison to the blessings.

Perhaps not all mothers share this mindset – and if you were raised by a mother who imparted either directly or covertly that motherhood is nothing more than a ball-and-chain then the negative mindset will be difficult to uproot and probably plays a part in your panic – but in my world motherhood is nothing short of a daily privilege and joy. Are there challenges every day? Absolutely. Are there times when I feel like pulling my hair out with frustration? Yes. But underneath the frustration, grief, exhaustion, and challenges lives a hum of joy that is unparalleled. The joy comes directly from the love, and the love I have for my boys is beyond time and space. Every mother I’ve ever worked with says the same.

As far as Sam, I hadn’t heard back from her so I decided to check in last July 2017. Here’s her response (shared with permission):

Dear Sheryl,
Thank you for your remembering me. I’m sorry I didn’t email to let you know how I was getting on – so much has happened since you put me in touch with Clara. 
I had lengthy email conversations with Clara. So much of her story related to what I was going through. Clara made me realise that it was actually my intense fear that was making me consider not going through with the pregnancy. There was something that she said which made a huge impact on me – that terminating a pregnancy is not like pressing the reset button; the fact is that the pregnancy has happened. Deep down inside I knew I wanted this child but I was just scared of the huge change and not knowing how I would cope. I have always struggled with change. 
I decided to continue with the pregnancy, although my husband had said he would support whatever decision I made. However, I knew he had always wanted children. 
Unfortunately, I got very little support from perinatal mental health services as they are very stretched at the moment. Hence the pregnancy was a real struggle at times but I stayed with the difficult feelings and kept telling myself it was just a fear response. 

My baby daughter was born late spring; I absolutely adore her and can’t imagine my life without her. She’s the best thing that ever happened to me. When I look at her, I sometimes feel guilty for the difficult feelings I had at the beginning of the pregnancy. I still feel scared  at times at the immense responsibility of a new little person, but I know it will pass.  

Thank you for passing me onto Clara; she provided me with the clarity and support I needed. She was the only person that really understood what I was going through. I’m extremely grateful to Clara, as well as to you for putting me in touch with her. 

Thank you again –
Sam xx
Of course, I was thrilled to receive her update, and so grateful that Clara had been willing to offer so much support. So when “Anna” contacted me about a month ago with nearly the same email I had received initially from Sam, I reached out to Sam to see if she could support her. The baton was passed, and this is how we navigate through transitions, and especially the transition of motherhood: one woman reaching out to another, holding hands across virtual space and creating the community that we all need in order to know that we’re okay and that we have the internal resources that will allow us to traverse these terrifying spaces. We simply cannot do it alone.



  1. Sheryl, Pregnancy isn’t part of my world, but the application of what you wrote is just as powerful to all of us learning to navigate the shadowlands. I found this post extremely exposing of the doubts & fears that growl so menacingly around RA. The common statements you list at the beginning echo my grief even as I step into marriage with a gem of a man.
    This is getting printed off and put in my journal where most of it will be highlighted. The “identity earthquake” you mention takes on so many forms, but I hold on to the hope for all of us who walk this road that it’s really “a removing of the created things so that what cannot be shaken remains.” Thanks always for giving us a solid reference point amid the shifting sands.

  2. This is off topic but I’ve had something bothering me and I was wondering if you could help suggest why I would be having these horrible thoughts sometimes..

    Basically my mums partner has cancer, he probably doesn’t have long left at all, I think we will be lucky if he is still here for Christmas, which I am praying to god that he is around so he has one last Christmas with his family and my mum.. basically, my mum and him split up about 2/3 years ago, due to reasons I don’t really wanna state but basically I held a grudge against him for a while. They got back together and I let it go, aslong as my mum is happy and they’re happy together then that’s the main thing. I adore him to bits. Despite the break up he is a really lovely person and a genuine nice guy. I feel for him I really do.. I don’t know if the fact we know he is going to not be around soon is worse than it happening unexpectedly. But on the odd occasion a thought in my head would be like “he deserves it” when I would never ever in all my life wish such a thing upon anybody or think that anybody deserves to be going through what he is going through, because he doesn’t. Not in a million years. & I hate that such a thing would enter my head. I’ve not really paid attention to it but it’s obviously bothered me. It’s only popped into my head like twice and I know deep down that it’s not something I actually mean. & I’ve also had a thought like “I hope he leaves his music gear to me” when I shouldn’t even have thoughts like that. I would much rather him stay on this earth and live a happy life than be bothered about anything like that. I just don’t know why such things would enter my head, and of course I feel really guilty because my mum is the best, he is amazingly lovely and I feel so guilty for something like that occurring in my mind.. I’ve had thoughts like “if I was born again in another life I wouldn’t be bothered if my boyfriend now wasn’t my boyfriend in a next life” I think with all this happening and having what’s going on, it’s causing a lot of unwanted thoughts and it makes me really really sad. Cause the thoughts I have, are not me. I’d never think stuff like this so I don’t understand.

    • Hello. I’m not Sheryl, but I’ve read your post and just wanted to say that the thoughts you’re having are intrusive thoughts and often are just that, just thoughts, not truths, not the actual expression of how you feel but a response to anxiety. If you’re anxious about the nearing loss of someone you care bout- you may have these types of thoughts as a way of coping. Just notice them and let them go. You’re not psychotic. These are not the same as voices. They are just thoughts based on anxiety. Sometimes these arise as part of OCD- these are the obsessive thoughts part of that condition.

      The sadness of loss is real. And I’m sorry you’re facing these hard times.

      Take good care.

  3. Sheryl,

    I really appreciate this post and your care for mamas who struggle with anxiety. I’m 4 months pregnant, and our sweet baby was a surprise – just two months after our wedding! As soon as we found out, I found myself deep down in the pit of anxiety again – focused yet again on my relationship and the “story” that my mind feeds me to help me “understand” my anxiety’s presence. So painful. It took about two months for me to get my head above water. As I read this post, I was so encouraged and reminded of the process of healing and grief. I’ve had unspeakable amounts of grief unearthed since getting engaged, and in my clear moments it makes so much sense to me (my anxiety and grieving process), but when my fear mind takes over, its nearly impossible for me to believe that the anxiety isn’t bad, but it’s a vessel for healing. Thank you, for your anchoring words and compassionate heart.

  4. oh, thank you for this piece. Thank you thank you thank you.

  5. Thank you for this post! My husband and I are considering starting a family next year and I know my anxiety is going to play games with me. Even though I am excited, I’m already grieving my old life being gone. But I know that this is normal- it’s hard and the change is amazing in its own right. I’m grateful for blogs lile this to not feel so alone.

  6. Thank you so much for this article. I was pregnant with my 2nd child and was overcome with anxiety and fear about having another baby. Unfortunately, i had a miscarriage at 7 weeks and there’s a lot of guilt for feeling the way I did. We plan to get pregnant again in the next few months. This article is exactly what I needed to read. Thank you so much. Your work is amazing and has helped me through some tough life changes.

  7. Hi Sheryl, I signed up for the birthing a new mother course and it was really helpful during my pregnancy. Still, it was hard to do the full job of grieving and processing the transition, as I felt pressure from everyone around me to appear happy and hide any ambivalence. My daughter is now 2 months old, and I am still having a hard time processing all of my feelings. I absolutely adore her and am loving the fun moments, but there are also moments of fear, frustration and sadness. I sometimes worry that I am pushing those feelings down because I still feel pressure to appear happy all the time. I don’t want my family to worry about me and judge me as a bad mother (maybe I judge myself a little also). Also, as my daughter is the first baby girl in my family in a while, everyone is excited to buy her lots of cute outfits. I feel sometimes that the focus on the material and superficial is excessive and overwhelming, but don’t know how to manage it.

  8. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for penning this blog entry. I am currently 38 weeks pregnant. The emotions have been strong, partly due to hormones, and partly because I already live with anxiety. I’ve had maybe two full-blown panic attacks, and lots of just general anxiety. I haven’t had a ton of pregnancy-related anxiety, but certainly have had some, “I can’t do this!!!” moments. I even had an evening where I had the intrusive thought of, “Well, I could just run away…” One of my many mantras is, “Everything is temporary,” which you hit on perfectly. I am concerned about my mental health post-partum, but-to quote another mantra-I’ll take it one day at a time.

  9. Such an important piece of writing. Thank you Sheryl for bringing light to this usually hidden topic. For any women out there suffering anxiety, doubt and misgivings over a planned pregnancy, know that you are not alone and you can get through it. Sending love, strength and support to you all.

  10. Thank you, all, for your comments. I’m so glad that the piece is bringing comfort and may you continue to tend to the places of grief and fear that need your attention, in pregnancy and in life.

  11. I cried tears of recognition and gratitude as I read this blog post today. I am in the throes of extreme pre-conception anxiety with terror around what it will feel like to have a foreign being growing inside of me. I’m worried I am going to want to pull it out of me or that it is going to literally kill me. My husband and I were supposed to start trying to conceive this weekend and I had a full blown panic attack on Friday afternoon. I decided that I wasn’t ready yet and we are putting it off for another month. During this panic attack, I felt as though I was disintegrating into nothingness. I’m trying to reconceptualize what happened to me as a symbolic death of the woman I used to be. I am very worried I’m not going to be able to manage my anxiety if we actually do get pregnant. I’m also struggling with whether or not to stay on my anti-anxiety medication while pregnant because I’m terrified I am going to hurt our baby. I purchased your birthing a new mother home study course a few weeks ago and it has been very helpful in beginning my preconception journey. Thank you so much for doing the work you do, Sheryl. I am a therapist as well, and your writing and home study courses are both personally and professionally inspiring to me. It is because of you that I also made it through my engagement anxiety and got married this past October. Thank you!

    • Thank you for sharing this, and you’re on the right trajectory here: “During this panic attack, I felt as though I was disintegrating into nothingness. I’m trying to reconceptualize what happened to me as a symbolic death of the woman I used to be.” If you can connect directly to the enormity of this grieving process/death experience, you will be able to get through.

    • Hi, I am currently in this situation (preconception, on anxiety meds) and was wondering how it turned out for you?

  12. I worry how the intense anxiety I felt during my pregnancy with my first son has affected him now. He is now 4. When he seems anxious or low, I sometimes blame the horrendous intrusive thoughts I experienced and suffered while carrying him. I found the anxiety debilitating while pregnant.

    • That’s highly unlikely, Rachel. What’s much more likely is that your son is sensitive and needs your loving and compassionate attention. Taking on blame for his normal human experience of feeling anxious or sad doesn’t serve anyone.

  13. This is astonishing. I went through this and thought I was an evil person as it lead me to terminate my much wanted pregnancy at a late stage after immeasurable suffering. Words cannot describe the regret. Thank you for your insight.

    • Thank you for sharing this, Annie, and you’re far from alone with your experience. I wish I had written this post earlier. You’re NOT an evil person, and I hope to bring much more consciousness to this unnamed yet common taboo. Sending love.

    • Sheryl is right, Annie. You are not alone and not evil. What you went through was a tragedy – for you and your child – and I’ve no doubt it was utterly overwhelming and soul crushing. The same thing happened to me, and I felt the same way as you for a long time – convinced I was the only woman to whom this had happened and therefore that there was something fundamentally broken or evil about me. This was years ago now, and I have since found genuine peace and forgiveness for myself, having comprehensively processed my experience the the loving skillful help of Shery and others. Even now, it is healing to learn that I am not the only one to go through this (although in a way I wish I was, as I hate to think of other women, like you, suffering as I did). Sending you heartfelt tenderness and understanding, and hoping you can, with time and support, find peace with yourself. I have faith that you will. With love, Clara.

    • Hi Anna,

      I know you left this comment five years ago now but I just wanted to say I have just experienced the same thing. I even saw your post before, but nothing could get through to me – I went to a very scared and dark place. It was as if I was brainwashed. Now I have to live with the regret and deep pain.

  14. Hi Sheryl, I’m newly pregnant and really appreciate this article! I am actually just coming out of a period of intense anxiety – around the process of trying to conceive, it very much hit me. Do you think this is pregnancy anxiety, just the same? I had a hard time sitting with the unknown and a lot of shame spiraled out of control.

    • Yes, the feelings of sitting with the unknown and any consequent shame are what need attention. Hopefully this article will help reduce the shame, then you can address with the core feeling of grief and feeling out of control.

  15. Dear Sheryl,
    What a powerful piece and connections here. I got emotional as I read your last lines:

    “The baton was passed, and this is how we navigate through transitions, and especially the transition of motherhood: one woman reaching out to another, holding hands across virtual space and creating the community that we all need in order to know that we’re okay and that we have the internal resources that will allow us to traverse these terrifying spaces. We simply cannot do it alone.”

    This is so true and your work is truly life-changing here. While I did not experience pregnancy anxiety, it came full-blown when my daughter was born a (highly sensitive being from infancy) in the form of “I am not cut-out to be a mother. I am a much better teacher an auntie.” At the time I did not identify it as anxiety and now that my daughter is 8, through your work and my work in therapy I understand this was/is anxiety stemming from my (well-meaning) mother wounds and ancestral pain/anxiety of not honoring myself as a highly sensitive being and thus not knowing how to turn inwards and fill my well of self . As I name and see this as anxiety, I have been able to detach the intrusive thoughts that tell me that my daughter’s anxiety & mood swings were my doing “I damaged her” and instead have been able to approach her with curiosity and loving parent/adult in her life. Prior to this, I would often become a 6year-old myself in the middle of her sensory overload meltdowns.

    Do you find that women who did not have pregnancy anxiety sometimes do struggle after their babies are born with the “I am not cut out for this” anxiety? Thank you for your work and underscoring our need to reach out, connect, and not feel alone in our pain, anxiety, and shame. What a powerful way of being, truly another way is possible.

    • Absolutely. You can even read some comments on this thread that speak to this. My Birthing a New Mother course addresses this as well.

  16. Thank you Sheryl – you’re brilliant

  17. I am a graduate of the Break Free and Conscious Weddings courses, and I have to say I am SO THANKFUL for the work I did then with anxiety. We are pregnant and the emotions (and some anxiety) are a roller coaster ride to say the least, but I know how to deal with it. I know it isn’t about my sweet husband, and I know, without a doubt, that the lessons I learned during my engagement anxiety are already helping immensely now. Thank you for all of your work!

  18. Hey Sheryl, bit off topic but do you know of any books that summarise Jung’s ideas?

  19. A truly brilliant insightful piece of writing! I struggled with pregnancy anxiety but came through it with the support and guidance of a very calm, wise woman. I often wonder how many other women have struggled with this type of anxiety as it’s hardly ever talked about.

  20. What a wonderful piece. Very much needed to read this. I’m going through a bout of anxiety at the moment. And one of my fears is that I do not want to have children or that I will hate being a mother. I’ve been married 8 months and my husband and I are talking kids. And lately it’s been anxiety inducing. I have had almost the exact same thoughts as “Sam.” I’m wondering if the birthing course addresses these pre-pregnancy thoughts? Deep down I know I want to try to have children. I don’t want my fears to keep me from trying.

    • The Birthing course addresses the common fears that arise during the preconception stage.

    • I felt just like you Lia. Every time we talked about having children, it would raise my anxiety. When I did get pregnant, my anxiety sky rocketed. There were lots of “what ifs” running through my head – “what if I can’t bond with my baby?” “What if I hate being a mother?” “What if I can’t cope?”. However, I came through it with help, support and hard work. My baby is now 6 months hold and I absolutely adore my baby. I can’t imagine my life without her. Pregnancy anxiety can be overcome.

      • I know this is an old post but the part “what if I hate being a mother?” Is the exact same thought I’ve been having since finding out I was pregnant. I feel so ashamed to be having this thought or even speak a loud of what I’m feeling. I just hope I can get through this horrible thought pattern.

  21. Wow Sheryl this post could have been written for me. 10 weeks pregnant and have had WORD FOR WORD every one of the thoughts you listed. It is crazy to think that other people have these same thoughts and fears since no one talks about it. I am part of a few pregnancy groups online and people only post topics on the physical/practical aspects of preparing for motherhood and a new baby. It blows my mind that some people can coast along without addressing the massive emotional / mental aspects. I often wish I was more like them.

    I have a question: I wonder if a spoke of the pregnancy anxiety wheel is “fear of love / loss”. I know with my relationship anxiety that was at the core of it, as I discovered through lots of hard work. And I can sense that it is the same thing at the core of my pregnancy anxiety. Everyone tells me how much I will love my child and it’s almost like I don’t want to hear that. I am terrified of that. I don’t want to love someone that much, because along with the love comes the fear of loss and immense vulnerability of being human. I want to push that love away. I wonder if you could write a post one day addressing this spoke of pregnancy anxiety specifically. If you feel called to 🙂

    Thank you for your amazing work. I am still struggling but at least I don’t feel so much shame and isolation around it.

    • “I wonder if a spoke of the pregnancy anxiety wheel is “fear of love / loss”.”


      And instead of waiting for me to write that post, I encourage you to journal it through. You have all the resources and tools you need to be able to meet this fear and work it through.

  22. Hi, I have completed the break free course and it has helped me more than I could ever have imagined, and for this I am so so so thankful. I am now left with one intrusive thought that will not go away no matter what…. ‘me and my partner won’t be able to have a baby’ I used to worry I was infertile and now i worry that he is infertile (I have no reason to think this…but I do?) and then I spiral into imagining what effect this would have on him and how upset he would feel, and if we had a baby using a sperm donor what effect this would have on his and the babies relationship etc. I am forever picturing these really painful stories of our future. The thing is we aren’t even trying for a baby at the moment. This is just a worry about the future. I feel like I’m the only person that has this constant worry. I worry about it obsessively, It literally makes me shake. I also worry that worrying about it so much will make it come true (which I know sounds mad).Does anyone have any advice or Sheryl do you have another course that could help with this? Thank you

    • You’re suffering from an intrusive thought. I encourage you to re-read the section on intrusive thoughts in the Break Free course and practice the tools I teach there. Time to do the next layer of healing!

  23. I am 44 and have been ruminating over the decision whether to have a baby or not have a baby for the past 18 months.
    I have never been one of those “deep down I know I want a baby” kind of people. Briefly when I turned 30, I had the desire to have a baby … but since that time, life intervened, and the desire all but went away.
    I do have a sense that if I had a baby, I would love him or her very much. I just also feel that I could regret the decision a lot, as well.
    How does one decide? I keep returning to the thought that if it was what I really wanted, truly wanted, I would do it.

  24. Hi Sheryl,
    I was looking forward to your article as I am in my 4th pregnancy and I’ve been experiencing a lot of anxiety this time around. The strange thing is that it’s not due to feelings you mention in the post. I already have 3 children so I am not afraid of my life changing. It’s more like a deep and strong anxiety rooted in fear of the approaching birth. I’m completely haunted and consumed by it. I am due in a week and it feels like a bad nightmare I am living.
    It’s so ridiculous because my 3 births were natural and quick with no complications. But they were still stressful and I keep playing out every detail in my mind! I feel like crawling into a cave and never coming out. I feel like when I was 8, after a depression that followed my mother’s miscarriage, when I couldn’t swallow and was afraid of death and would just pray to Gd to end it.
    Do you have any advice or suggestions?

    • The clue is here: “I feel like when I was 8, after a depression that followed my mother’s miscarriage, when I couldn’t swallow and was afraid of death and would just pray to Gd to end it.” What’s needed is both loving attention to your 8-year old self AND turning to God and relying on all of your spiritual tools to see you through this old and present fear.

  25. Thank you SO much for this breakthrough Sheryl. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted already.
    It’s so unbelievable how a childhood trauma can resurface at a time like this.

  26. Hi Sheryl,
    I first heard about you when I was pregnant with my son (7 years ago). He is my only child and I am just now even considering getting pregnant again. I can probably say that 7 years ago was the worst time of my entire life. Toward the end of my pregnancy (last 3 months) I got very depressed, felt lonely, and had anxiety. I questioned “love” for my husband (not the first time) and was terrified I was having a child. I kept thinking I would not love him since I was not excited I was pregnant. I compared myself to other pregnant women and their cliche comments like “I love her/him already.” And of course I would think, “How come I don’t feel that way?” I spent the last 3 months of pregnancy miserable. I felt like my life was over and something was wrong with me. I then gave birth to my son and sort of felt that immediate love. I always saw this in movies. The mother crying while the baby was put in her arms is what happened to me. I was surprised. Anyway, after going home from the hospital I had some anxiety because of course it was this huge change and my previous anxiety was still lingering but not the same. I would constantly look at my son to get approval of my love for him. Throughout the years I’ve had moments that pop up where the anxiety comes back for a week or so and I feel like I lost my love or something is wrong with him. I know this isn’t true because 99% if the time I have felt love for him. I am of course happy that I have him now.

    For years I’ve tokd myself that I would not get pregnant because of what happened to me the first time around. I’ve also always had this fear of “well I love my son because he is good looking but what if my second one isn’t or something is wrong with him or her and I never love them?” This fear causes me to not want to have another and that is why I have waited so long.

    I am finally “ready” to try for another. “Ready” is in quotes because of course I truly am not ready and am terrified, but this is the first time I feel like I have to do it now or never. I am 37 now and feel like I should do it now before it’s too late. My husband is dying for a second child and my 6.5 year old has asked me multiple times and has cried because he does not have a sibling. My main reason for having another is for my son. I don’t want to deprive him of a sibling.

    I am so scared of what I have in store for me during my next pregnancy. Can a mother truly not love their child ever? I do not have any childhood trauma that would cause me to feel that way, but sometimes I think “what If I’m not normal and I do not end up loving my second? What if I do not love my second as much as my first?”

    Please share some advice. I am desperate. One thing that makes me feel somewhat normal is the fact that almost every entry you write I can relate to. I also feel reassured that these are intrusive thoughts when I read about others on here who are like me. I do know that when anxiety kicks in, it is difficult to look back and say, “you’re normal. Sheryl understands and so do other women who follow her.” I know for a fact that I will say, “Well what if you’re one out of 100 women who truly is crazy and won’t love your child?”

  27. My goodness Sheryl. How do you read our minds? Lately when I’m feeling grief I just come to your website. Your articles on relationship anxiety have helped me to accept that I REALLY HAVE found the love of my life despite my fear. So last night my anxiety moved on to the only problem left on the horizon: He’s meant to have kids, and I’m not so sure.

    After just skimming this article I’m sobbing and feeling much more sure that my resistance is mostly the anxiety you describe here, and with your help it feels surmountable. I suspect that under all my body-horror and anguish at the anticipation of grief is the honest desire, maybe, to go into this sacred rite of motherhood. I want to know myself better. For now the fear is in the way, but your guidance means the world to me.

    I cannot currently afford your courses or counseling, but for now know that your blogs and podcast have done more to help me than any other therapist or resource I’ve found. If I can give back to you, I’d like to. Just please know how much of a difference you’ve made in my life. I am so much happier since I found your website. Thank you!!!

    • This is so beautiful to read, Megan, and warms my heart completely. I can hear by your comment how much self-awareness you have, and that you’ll be able to navigate this next transition with grace.

  28. Dear Sheryl, thank you for your support. For sharing your wisdom with us and giving us guidance. I have long waited for pregnancy with my husband, and I felt excitement when the test showed plus and this feeling lasted about 1 month when the anxiety hit me on Friday, three days before my first ginecological exam. First I thought it was the fear of what the exam will show.. Maybe I am not really pregnant and she will take that feeling away from me and cause me pain.
    But feeling my feelings around that for two days, it struck me that I fear loosing my Life because of my pregnancy and being a mother. I have finally gotten the opportunity for a permanent position at work, and now.. As I’m in te process of applying I am realizing that I will be able to work only three months at most at my new position with a new boss, before I will have to go on a leave.. My career plans will have to shift, my travelling plans with my husband, seeing Egypt and Bali will have to be postponed.. On top of that, I have witnessed so much struggles of my friends being new mothers and it is scaring me so much.
    I have writen out my fears as you suggested in the blog post and it helped. I will read other articles on your blog cause it helps. I hope this too shall pass.

    Thank you so very much for your wisdom.

    Will the birthing new mother course be held any time soon?
    or are there recordings to purchase?

    Thank you. Lots of Love ❤️

  29. I can’t believe I have found this article. I have been struggling with pregnancy anxiety for years. A few years ago, we decided to start trying and about a week after we did, I was struck down by the worst anxiety and panic that I’ve ever experienced. I had every single one of the thoughts mentioned in this article. I had panic attacks and felt like I had plummeted into a dark abyss and I was consumed by intrusive thoughts and countless symptoms of anxiety and panic. There wasn’t an ounce of rationality left in me and I was convinced that I was pregnant and would need to terminate. I wasn’t pregnant (although it took 2 blood tests and about 6 urine tests and a period before I believed it) so I went back on contraception and I felt so ashamed for a long time about the thoughts I had and the things I said. But after all that, I have never stopped wanting children. I have spent hours googling prengnancy anxiety / tokophobia / fear of pregnancy, etc., and nothing useful came up. I’ve spoken about this with my therapist, tried doing CBT myself around it, and have read all sorts of books to try to overcome it but I’ve consistently flipped between ready/not ready and have felt so much shame that I can’t seem to do something that billions of women seem to do without any issues. I came across this article after watching the webinar on the Self-Healers Circle course for Inner Wisdom. When you spoke about your book ‘The Conscious Bride’, I wondered if you had any info on pregnancy anxiety so I came here and found not only an article which describes 100% exactly how I feel but also a course on it! I can’t believe it. I even showed my partner because I feel so relieved to have finally find a place where I feel seen. I will definitely be doing your course. Thank you so much for the work you do and I can’t wait to see where this course takes me.


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