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Personal Account: Anxiety in the Third Trimester

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

Account and artwork by Esther Whitney (aka Doctor Doom)

In the third trimester, I became all-consumed by anxiety about becoming a mother. It was my first

baby and I couldn’t imagine what it would be like, or whether I would cope.

The closest comparison I had was my training as a nursery nurse. I expressed my overwhelming anxieties about motherhood to professionals hoping that they would provide some reassurance and support. Unfortunately, I was repeatedly told that they could not offer any support until after the birth. It’s the ‘wait and see’ mantra.

My anxiety became so overwhelming. I felt overwhelmed and suffocated. This could have been reduced by addressing my anxieties. There was a lack of understanding about the barriers autistic parents face in accessing antenatal classes. No alternative was considered; it was assumed that I simply didn’t want to engage.

What I feel needs to change is early support. I would like to see more awareness of perinatal anxiety in Autistic parents. It would have been so helpful if a professional had taken the time to reassure me, work through my anxieties and even offer practical support, for example talking through breastfeeding, changing a nappy, bathing a baby, even holding a baby. This would have reduced anxiety. I already knew how to do most of these activities due to being a nursery nurse, however, at the time I was so overcome by anxiety and self-doubt I couldn’t see a way forward.

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