5 ways to manage anxiety around ultrasounds

I’ve written before about how and why I have anxiety around ultrasounds. Even before I experienced any of my own losses I had a lot of anxiety on ultrasound days. On the day of my ultrasounds I would be desperately looking for anything that would help to ease those feelings – food, getting lost in a social media hole, work.  Often I would end up snapping at my husband or kids because I was so busy taming my anxiety that I was on edge with everyone else. 

anxiety around ultrasounds

Let’s talk about how to manage anxiety around ultrasounds.

Distract yourself in ways that make you feel good

If you’re going to distract yourself from thinking about your ultrasound you may as well pick something that will make you feel good afterwards. Personally, two hours of social media scrolling makes me feel like rubbish. Whereas intentionally sitting down to watch a movie with some of my favourite snacks feels like a treat. Make sure you plan something to fill your day that makes you feel good. Eg. Meet with friends for a catch up, tackle a home project you’ve been putting off, read a novel you can’t put down, etc.

Eat well. 

When I’m anxious I either eat all the wrong food or don’t eat anything at all. Both of these options though tends to just make my anxiety worse. Especially if eating all the food includes lots of sugar and caffeine. Try to keep your eating as normal as possible otherwise you’ll just end up feeling sick AND anxious. Not fun. 

Move baby move.

The best way to shift that anxious, fidgety energy is to move. A walk or some yoga are great options. But so is cleaning (procrasti-cleaning anyone?), playing at the park (if you’ve got other kids) or going for a swim. Basically anything that gets your heart rate up a little bit will help to flush that nervous energy and give you that post-movement endorphin kick to help you feel more positive. 


When we’re stressed our body is in fight or flight mode. This is a natural response in our bodies to protect us from danger. Our body activates all the systems it needs to get you out of harm’s way (to either fight your way out or run.) Unfortunately our body doesn’t know the difference between anxiety about a test result and the need to physically escape a dangerous situation.  So when we’re lying on that ultrasound table waiting for the technician to put the gel on our belly, our body is pumping up our oxygen and blood flow to our legs and arms, our heart is racing, and we break out in sweats. It is literally no surprise that we feel like we want to escape our own body. That is exactly what our body is trying to do – escape!

Instead we need to use the breath to reassure our body that despite our anxious feelings, we are okay. Deep, full breaths into the belly is a way to tell the body – “its okay. You can relax. I don’t need to run or fight. It’s going to be okay.”

Imagine breathing deeply into your belly and your baby breathing with each breath you take. In for four, out for four and repeat. 

Do nothing. 

Look, I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion but what if you simply did nothing? What if you accepted that you feel anxiety around ultrasounds and just let yourself feel that? 

What if there was nothing to fix? Often the feelings we resist, persist. Negative emotions that we’re already struggling with feel bigger and heavier when we spend our energy trying to get rid of them, or avoiding feeling them altogether. When we just let them be, and accept what is, the anxious feelings often aren’t as crippling as they can feel when we’re trying to push them away. A lot of the struggle is often in the resisting.

So today, give yourself some grace to just be anxious. Let yourself feel they anxiety. You could try a meditation to help you sit with the feelings and keep reminding yourself that you’re going to be okay. 

Because you are. 

If you’d like more practises to support you with pregnancy anxiety – check out my full series here.

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