Pregnancy can be a beautiful thing, but behind closed doors, it can also be an anxiety-filled and terrifying experience. So far, both of my pregnancies have been a constant cycle of non-stop worrying, equipped with small intermissions of appreciation and joy. If that sounds familiar, you are not alone and there is nothing wrong with you!
Everyone loves to remind you how ‘blessed’ and ‘lucky’ you are to be able to experience growing a tiny human. They also like to discuss all the beautiful milestones of pregnancy. What most don’t usually like to discuss or talk about, is the paralyzing fear and anxiety that can shadow you throughout your prenatal journey – especially if you are categorized as a ‘high-risk’ pregnancy.
So why is everyone is so eager and open to talking about the sleepless nights, swollen limbs, and out-of-this-world cravings; but choose to avoid other normal symptoms of pregnancy, such as anxiety?
Anxiety during pregnancy is extremely common – especially for those who had anxiety before becoming pregnant! So how is choosing to ignore the less appealing symptoms, and quickly label them as being ‘irrational’, considered being helpful? The answer is simple – no one! Having fears when you are pregnant, goes hand-in-hand with being a parent and should never be ignored or belittled!
If you suspect someone is having a rough time with pregnancy-related anxiety, try to keeping things real, and helpful!
Fear of miscarriage/stillborn
This is not a light subject for anyone. Stillborn and miscarriage are both terms regarding the loss of a child, so it is no wonder why this is a topic that people tend to avoid like the plague. Just rest a little easier knowing that depending on your health and how far along you are in your pregnancy, the chances of this happening are probably a lot lower than you think. The risk of miscarrying also become less likely as your pregnancy progresses!
What you can do: Talking about this fear is healthy and will not jinx your pregnancy! On the other hand, it is not healthy to keep that prolonged anxiety bottled up! If this is a fear that tends to take over your thoughts more than you would like, please express your concerns with your OB or Midwife. They may be able to help you get some tips and peace of mind!
My experience: If you are anything like me, this fear can consume your every thought and make your pregnancy miserable, or even depressing!
***Most miscarriages, (especially in the early stages of pregnancy) are due to complications and abnormalities with the baby and are unpreventable.***
Fear of dying
A dreaded thought, but a thought nonetheless… It is perfectly natural to harbor a fear of death. In fact, a majority of people in the world, do. However, you may not even have considered your fragility until hearing about the chances of maternal mortality. People don’t particularly like to talk about this, nor do they want to think about it. Why would they?
However, sometimes death is a constant jabbing thought that follows a mother-to-be, especially when she comes nearer to her due date. Although it does happen, if you are healthy and have good prenatal care, it is not likely to happen – hang in there and stay positive!
What you can do: You may not be able to suppress your worries about delivery, but you can talk to your medical provider (OB, Midwife, Nurses, etc) about your concerns and let them talk you through your planned – and even a potentially unplanned – procedure to prepare you for what is to come.
My experience: I remember when I first initially let this fear seep into my thoughts. I was watching a drama series of people in the medical field, and occasionally there would be a woman who had died during childbirth. I will never make the mistake of watching a dramatized television show that revolves around the constant death of others in medical practice during a pregnancy EVER again!
Fear of birth defects
Nobody wants to be told that their child is not going to have the same capabilities as other children, or that they will have special needs in general. This fear is common and can be very worrisome. People want to be told that their baby is going to happy and healthy with no strings attached.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only about 3% of babies born in the US are diagnosed with birth defects.
What you can do: If that statistic does not put your mind at any ease, ask your doctor about prenatal health screenings and preventative methods to certain defects.
Fear of pain during and after childbirth
Pain during childbirth is natural, and for the most part it is inevitable. Just remember that your body is preparing for this pain, and it is not suiting-up for anything that you cannot handle. We as mothers tend to forget just how strong and capable we are as women. And thanks to modern science and medical advances, there are options for pain management! *Phew!*
If you are brave enough to plan your birthing experience without medication, that is great! There is also nothing wrong with wanting to avoid that pain as much as possible and take advantage of your available options! You have to do what is best for you!
What you can do: Discuss your options with your doctor and do not forget to mention your anxiety about the pain during and after your experience, you will have a lot of options to discuss, research, and plan!
Fear of premature labor/birth
Premature labor is defined by the CDC, as giving birth or going into labor before the 37th week of pregnancy. Although it does happen, it is not common. In fact, only 1 in 10 infants are born prematurely. Rest assured that being born prematurely is not always a death sentence. And depending on how early a baby is born, many result to being happy and healthy babies, that become happy and healthy children/adults!
When to worry: If you are having contractions that are close together, leaking fluids, or have any other signs of premature labor, do not hesitate to contact your healthcare provider, or contact your local Labor and Delivery ward to be safe!
Fear of gaining weight
Progressive weight-gain during pregnancy is normal! Women’s bodies are meant to gain a certain amount of weight during their pregnancy in order to sustain the nourishment required to growing a baby. But, we are all different and our bodies are no exception! What matters most is how you are taking care of yourself during and after your pregnancy.
My experience: I was an average weight when my pregnancy began, then I started to lose weight due to severe morning sickness. After the sickness passed, things went back to normal, and by the time I delivered, I had gained a total of 60 pounds! I was careful with what I ate, I only drank water, and still managed to gain a lot more weight than I would have expected! However, after delivery, I stayed careful and avoided unnecessary junk food while breastfeeding. After my 6 week checkup, I got back to being regularly active and surprisingly was able to lose all 60 pounds after a few months!
Tips for preventing and managing your stress-levels and anxiety:
What you can do:
- Try not worrying about things you cannot completely control, try to focus on the things that you can control.
- Trust that your body is meant to do this!
- Talking to someone about your anxieties can relieve a lot of stress! Do not let others make you feel silly for reaching out!
- Prepare yourself as best you can. We may not be able to prevent bad things from happening, but we can be prepared and become more confident with the knowledge that is available to us!
My Experience: Staying informed and being as prepared as possible helped get me through my pregnancy. It seemed to me that every time I felt like I had to guess or wonder about something new, I would end up on Google searching for information and answers. We all know that Googling symptoms and certain information tends to lead us down the worst path of knowledge. For me, I would research and find the worst-case-scenario and it would spoon-feed my anxiety! I hope this helps!
***May the force be with you!***