What if my pregnancy gets difficult? What if my labor gets complicated? What if my baby doesn’t gain weight? What if they have any anomalies?
Pregnancy brings cheers all around, but it also generates myriad fears in the mother. It is natural for you to have pregnancy fears because you are giving birth to a new life, and their well-being begins from your womb itself.
However, it wouldn’t be right for you to worry excessively or continuously be in that state of fear. In this MomJunction post, we take a look at the common pregnancy fears, the myths, and fallacies that surround them, and tips to control your fears.
Common Pregnancy Fears
Here, we list down the fears that most women tend to have during pregnancy. Find out about the simple things you can do to deal with them.
1. What if I have a miscarriage?
The risk of miscarriage is lower than you may think it is. The risk of pregnancy loss is 15% for women younger than 35, 20 – 35% for those aged between 35 and 45 years, and 50% for women aged 45 and above (1).
Also, if a woman has a miscarriage, it mostly occurs even before she realizes that she is pregnant. If you are pregnant, the likeliness of miscarriage will drop considerably by the time you see your baby’s heartbeat in the scan (between 6th and 8th week) (2)
Eat healthily, rest well, cut down caffeine (take no more than 200mg a day), quit smoking and alcohol. Such healthy steps will help you have a healthy pregnancy.
2. What if I go into premature labor?
Most women fear delivering a premature baby and its chances of survival. But you should know that the fetus is capable of surviving outside the womb after 24 weeks. Although not ideal, you should not worry if you deliver earlier than your due date. Infants born before the 32nd week are likely to survive and lead a healthy life (3).
To lower the risk of early delivery, go for regular prenatal checkups, abstain from smoking and alcohol, and take folic acid supplements every day. Folic acid prevents genes from causing premature labor (4).
3. Can I handle the labor pain?
Agreed that labor is painful but it is also one of the most remarkable experiences in a mother’s life, and many have gone through it before you. Also, there are ways to manage and even reduce labor pain and discomfort.
Enroll in a birthing class, and gain as much knowledge as possible on the breathing and relaxation techniques that make labor easier for you. Talk to your doctor, and involve your partner in the activity, as he is the biggest support you have.
4. Would my baby have birth defects?
Only 3% of the babies born in the US every year have birth defects such as congenital heart defects, cleft palate, and spina bifida (4). The risk is low, and regular tests and ultrasounds during the prenatal checkup can help detect any such issues early and take measures to remedy them if possible. Most of the birth defects are usually minor and can be treated through medication or surgery in some cases.
To reduce the risk of birth defects, take your regular prenatal vitamins and multivitamins, especially folic acid.
5. Can I ever shed this extra weight after pregnancy?
It is natural to see yourself gain weight and get curvier than before, especially if you have gained excess weight during pregnancy. Food cravings and eating to your heart’s content might cause weight gain.
Eat healthy food and stay active during pregnancy. Start an exercise regimen after recovering from childbirth. Proper diet and exercise will help you lose the extra weight.
6. Would my baby starve as I have terrible morning sickness?
Do not worry if your nausea is preventing you from keeping the food inside. The baby absorbs all the nutrition from the food you eat and also from the vitamin stores for growth and development. Unless nausea and vomiting are persistent, leaving you severely dehydrated and weak, there is no need to worry. Moderate morning sickness will not affect your fetus or cause any nutritional imbalance (5).
Eat small and frequent meals for easy digestion; also eating frequently will keep you from starving. If the vomiting and nausea are severe, your doctor might prescribe some medications.
7. I am extremely stressed, and would that hurt my baby?
Mundane things such as household chores, extended working hours or getting stuck in traffic may be stressful. But that’s the kind of stress that your body is used to and won’t affect the baby. However, severe stressors such as losing the job or the death of a loved could increase the risk of having a low birth weight baby or preterm delivery (6).
If you are extremely stressed or are depressed, talk to a psychotherapist or a counselor who can help you deal with the stress through relaxation or visualization techniques. You can also find other ways such as writing down your thoughts, reading a book or taking a nap to calm yourself down.
8. Will I have complications such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes?
Around 5 to 8% of women develop preeclampsia (high blood pressure) in their pregnancy (7). Those who are under 15 or above 35 and who have borderline blood pressure are at higher risk (8). However, your doctor will monitor you carefully during the prenatal checkups. Also, check with your doctor if you notice symptoms such as blurry vision, swollen face or hands, or major headaches to get treatment in the initial stage itself.
Gestational diabetes develops when the body is not able to process sugars properly. Limiting the intake of carbs, including simple foods, and regular exercise will help manage the condition. If you have no history of preeclampsia or diabetes, routine sugar and blood pressure tests can assist in detecting and managing the condition.
9. What if I catch infections?
Most infections that you may catch are not so serious, but some such as toxoplasmosis, varicella, cytomegalovirus infection, listeriosis, and rubella can get transmitted to the infant (9).
Simple steps such as following good hygiene, taking care of health problems, avoiding raw and undercooked foods, and having safe sex can protect you from infections. Also, take flu shots, antibiotics, and required vaccinations in time.
10. What if I have an emergency C-section?
A C-section is usually recommended when a vaginal birth is not possible due to health reasons, or labor doesn’t set in or progress. Sometimes, a cesarean section is planned in the case of pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure, placenta previa, gestational diabetes, fetal distress or failure of labor progression (10).
Remember, that in some cases it is the safest and best option for both the mother and the baby. You can always recuperate and recover by having a healthy lifestyle and medications if needed.
11. What if my waters break in public?
You may fear going out in public worrying that the waters may break in front of strangers. Even if it does, a water break is more of a trickle than a gush. Also, waters break following contractions, so you will probably know when that is going to happen.
Moreover, anyone who can see that you are pregnant will understand the situation, and may even come to your aid if necessary.
12. Can I make it to the hospital on time?
It is quite natural to worry about delivering the baby at the right time. This could make you anxious about reaching the hospital on time. The fear is more when the hospital is far away from your residence, or if you know of someone who delivered the baby in a car or on the roadside.
But, the average period between labor and delivery is around 12 to 24 hours, and you will experience symptoms of labor such as cramps, contractions, lower back pain, and water breaking much before the baby makes its way through the birth canal.
Attend childbirth classes, or read books about labor and delivery. Discuss with your health care provider and come up with a workable plan that gets you to the hospital in time.
13. Would my relationship with my partner suffer?
Almost every healthy relationship is tested once the couple has a baby. Parenthood will change your life and also the equation you have with your partner. It is normal to worry about issues like your partner being less interested in your pregnancy, you or him losing interest in sex, both worrying about money or your partner not finding your post-pregnancy body attractive.
Communicate your concerns with your partner and figure out ways to support each other and make your relationship more exciting.
14. What if I do something embarrassing during childbirth?
You may have heard gross delivery stories and you may worry it might happen to you too.
Labor is a strenuous exercise for your body, and it is okay to react as it seems fit at that moment. Also, only a team of medical professionals will be present with you in the labor room. Chances are they have seen many such cases and wouldn’t mind incidents what might seem embarrassing for you. So don’t worry about it. Just focus on using the right breathing techniques for a smooth delivery.
15. Would I fail as a parent?
If you are a first-time mom, you might be overwhelmed by the thought of raising a child and may doubt your abilities as a parent. You might not know how to respond when your baby is crying or how to change a diaper. But understand that maternal instincts will automatically kick in with the baby’s birth. You will eventually figure out how to care for the baby and could use a little help from the doctor or nurses right after delivery and from your family once you go home.
Parenting is not an inbuilt skill and can be mastered by practice and experience. In time, you’ll learn to be a great parent and manage both home and work life well.
To keep your fears and worries in check, voice your concerns during your prenatal check-ups. Also, sign up for a birthing class to deal with the pregnancy and prepare for childbirth. Stay positive and keep your environment cheerful, while dealing with your concerns logically. When all is well, you will give birth to a healthy and beautiful baby.
How did you deal with your fears during pregnancy? Share the tips with our readers and help them overcome their fears.
2. Pregnancy – Prenatal; Cedars-Sinai
3. Vaginal delivery safe for head first births before 32 weeks; NIH (2012)
4. How To Prevent Going Into Labor Before Your Due Date; University of Utah
5. Data & Statistics on Birth Defects; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2018)
6. Pregnancy – morning sickness; Betterhealth, Victoria
7. Will stress during pregnancy affect my baby; NIH (2017)
8. Complications of Pregnancy; The Forefront of World Class Health Care – UChicago Medicine (2017)
9. Preeclampsia And Eclampsia; Harvard Health Publishing (2018)
10. Gwendolyn L Gilbert; Infections in pregnant women; MJA (2002)
11. C-Sections: An Easy Way Out; South University (2013)