You may have shrieked with joy upon finding that second purple line, indicating a positive pregnancy test. But once the dust settles following those lab test confirmations, you’ll soon start fretting as you become aware of a delicate being in your tummy; the thought of whose safety makes you concerned and anxious. Sometimes, this anxiety can reach obsessive levels. You start focusing on less important issues and ignore the really important ones. The dilly-dallying hormones and morning sicknesses only add to your misery. In the end, you’ll just become a ball of active angst.
It is a fact that pregnancy does involve a certain amount of risk. While some of your concerns may be genuine, most of them stem from word-of-mouth legends or personal experiences, which are generally exceptions rather than the rule.
Here we address 5 such burning issues that cause anxiety during pregnancy, in a matter-of-fact way –
1. Defects During Birth
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USA), approximately 97 out of 100 babies born every year in the USA are devoid of any major birth defects like Down syndrome or spina bifida (1). On an optimistic note, this means that there is only a 3% chance of a newborn arriving with a birth defect.
Taking at least 400 mcg of folic acid daily, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding fish with high levels of mercury are some of the things you can do to keep birth defects at bay.
A miscarriage is probably one of the biggest fears of any new mother, especially during the first trimester. If you experience a period-like pain or unusual amount of bleeding, then you need to check with your doctor immediately. However, a pregnant woman may have implantation bleeding within 6 to 12 days after conception which should not be confused with miscarriage bleeding (2).
To avoid a miscarriage, rest well, do not consume alcohol or drugs, avoid getting infections, including STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) or even a gum disease. Seek regular consultation with your OB/GYN, especially if you’ve had a miscarriage before.
3. Premature Births
Premature births are the ones that occur before the full term of 40-41 weeks. Such births can be a cause of concern to many. However, due to the fact that a majority of the births in the US occur within the 37th to 38th week, the concept of what a ‘full term’ pregnancy means seems to be changing now (3).
According to a study, certain surgical interventions have been found to be beneficial in preventing a premature birth (4). So are the use of progesterone supplements (as prescribed by your doctor), nutritious diet, and avoiding passive and active cigarette smoking.
4. Labor Pain
Labor pain is inevitable. However, stressing about it will only add to your fear. First and foremost, get the fear of labor pain out of your head. You could start with practicing certain positions that help you ease your pain during labor (5). Learning deep breathing or opting for a doula-assisted delivery also helps. Labor isn’t going to be easy, but it is definitely manageable, just like it is for the millions of women around the world.
5. Lifting Heavy Objects
For ages, women from the older generation have advised pregnant women against lifting heavy objects, although there has been no scientific evidence to suggest any harm. However, women who are at an increased risk of miscarriage are generally advised to take bed rest and avoid such heavy activities. All we can suggest is, while you can continue to remain physically active, do not bend to lift heavy objects. If you do have any concerns, check with your doctor first.
Pregnancy is a journey in itself with its own highs and lows. But don’t let any fear or anxiety come in your way of cherishing this journey. So, rest well, sleep well, and focus on being cheerful rather than getting stressed. Because taking stress will only make matters worse. Have a happy baby!