What is pregnancy-related anxiety and how can I identify someone experiencing it?

Dr Robyn Brunton, Associate Professor Rachel Dryer and Hilary Miller, Australia, April 2023

Related to Anxiety, Depression

Resource Summary

This article describes what pregnancy-related anxiety is and how to identify and support someone who is experiencing it. It is aimed at allied health workers, social workers, and family and relationship counsellors, who may be the first point of contact for people with pregnancy-related anxiety.

Implications for practice

The following tips may help practitioners working in antenatal care to identify, assess and support individuals with pregnancy-related anxiety:

  • Consider the social determinants of pregnancy-related anxiety. Many risk factors relate to low resources and support (e.g. socioeconomic resources, social support) and previous adverse experiences. Onwards referral may be important to connect families with other services and supports.
  • Use assessment scales that are sensitive or specific to pregnancy-related anxiety, where available. For example, the Pregnancy-related Anxiety Scale (PrAS) and the Pregnancy-related Anxiety Screener Scale (PrAS-S).
  • Practice active listening and ask parents about their feelings about pregnancy and parenting. Many pregnant people, especially those from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds may have had their concerns invalidated or dismissed, which can make anxiety worse.
  • Take a trauma-informed and inclusive approach. A history of abuse and low social support are risk factors for pregnancy-related anxiety. Gender-sensitive and culturally appropriate care is critical to ensure all parents receive adequate and appropriate support.


Individuals experiencing pregnancy-related anxiety are not commonly identified, assessed or supported. Increasing awareness of pregnancy-related anxiety, and ensuring parents are routinely and accurately identified and supported is critical to ensuring optimal antenatal care.

Specific pregnancy-related anxiety assessment tools are currently being developed and validated, as existing measures of general anxiety may result in under diagnosis. This article has also outlined implications for practitioners to better identify, assess and support families.

Up Next: How to identify if someone is experiencing pregnancy-related anxiety

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