Top Pregnancy Fears BUSTED
Finding out you are pregnant is extremely exciting, but it also can lead to worrying that your pregnancy won’t go as perfectly as you have always planned. Dr. Nathan Wegner, MD, OB-GYN at Healthcare for Women at Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence, gives some facts to help bust those fears and let you take a deep breath and relax during the rest of your pregnancy.
Fear #1: My morning sickness is terrible! My baby isn’t getting enough to eat!
When you’re fighting off morning or all-day sickness in your first trimester and trying your best to keep crackers and juice down, it’s easy to worry your baby isn’t getting enough nutrients. Dr. Wegner says not to fret. “Babies are actually very good at finding the nutrition they need. They are very efficient little passengers, and, as in later life, will usually get what they want.” However, he warns in severe cases, an expectant mama can become dehydrated and suffer from malnutrition and may require hospitalization and IV fluids.
To help with the first trimester sickness, Dr. Wegner suggests eating small and more frequent meals, stopping your prenatal vitamin and just taking folic acid, avoiding smells that make you sick and staying hydrated.
Fear #2: I’ll go into labor too early!
A serious concern for most mothers is that their baby will be born premature and have complications. “This one might be on your worry radar because the rate of premature births has been hovering around 12 percent for many years,” says Dr. Wegner. “By definition, a preterm birth is a delivery prior to 37 weeks. The babies at highest risk for complications are born at less than 34 weeks, but babies between 34 and 37 weeks can still have complications. That’s why it’s so important to choose a provider that can provide high-risk care and a hospital that can provide services such as an antepartum unit for moms requiring hospitalization, and a reputable NICU in case your baby needs extra support.”
Dr. Wegner also says one of the main risk factors for preterm birth is a prior preterm delivery, which is why he says progesterone supplementation (from 16 weeks to 36 weeks) during pregnancy is now recommended to reduce the risk of recurrent preterm births.
Optimizing your health prior to pregnancy is also beneficial, according to Dr. Wegner. He recommends steps like not smoking, spacing your pregnancies from delivery to conception by at least 18 months and getting regular prenatal care to reduce the risk of preterm birth.
Fear #3: I’m gaining too much weight!
We’ve all been there. You step on the dreaded scale at your checkup appointment and see a number five pounds higher than your last appointment! You think to yourself, “How did I possibly gain so much weight so quickly?” Dr. Wegner says all women gain weight at different times and at different rates during pregnancy. “Don’t get hung up on a few visits and don’t weigh yourself every day,” he says. “Remember to keep the big picture in mind. Eat healthy and stay active to achieve your goals.” However, Dr. Wegner does warn that pregnancy is NOT eating for two. Your calorie requirements are only about 300 calories more than your “ideal” daily calorie requirement.
Fear #4: Labor Pains
We’ve heard the horror stories that labor is the worst pain a woman ever experiences. It’s true, labor can be painful, but you can do many things to prepare for and cope with the pain. “One of the best things you can do during your pregnancy is to get active and stay active. Regular, low impact exercise is recommended, and you’ll be stronger and have more endurance when the day finally comes to have your baby,” says Dr. Wegner.
Prenatal classes also can be beneficial. Dr. Wegner suggests taking a low intervention birthing class at HCA Midwest Health to help couples prepare to manage the pain of labor without medications. The class encourages women to feel confident about giving birth, which is a natural, healthy process. It includes relaxation and breathing exercises that can help reduce your perception of pain, and it also teaches you to use distraction or massage from a supportive coach. Other methods women use to ease the pain include walking, taking a bath or shower, shifting position and listening to music.
“In the end, I advise all of my patients to be aware of their options and keep an open mind,” says Dr. Wegner. “Sometimes things don’t go according to the birth plan, and medications or anesthesia will be needed to optimize the outcome for you and your baby. Also, if you are planning a ‘natural’ childbirth and end up with an epidural, you are not a failure or a bad mother. Pain tolerance varies greatly from person to person, and the trophy, your baby, is the same in the end.”
Fear #5: Miscarriage
Unfortunately, some pregnancies do end in miscarriage. Dr. Wegner says the incidence increases with age (approximately 10-20 percent from age 20-30 and 40 percent or higher beyond age 40), and at least 50 percent of miscarriages are due to genetic/chromosomal abnormalities. Some occur so early a woman may just think she is having a late period.
Dr. Wegner says the majority of miscarriages are not preventable, but there are some modifiable risk factors. “Prior to your pregnancy, optimize your weight (not too much, but not too little), take folic acid/prenatal vitamins prior to conceiving and don’t smoke or use alcohol or recreational drugs,” he advises.
The good news, according to the American Pregnancy Association, is that at least 85 percent of women who have had one loss will go on to have a successful pregnancy the next time, as will 75 percent of those who have experienced two or three losses.
When worrying becomes a problem
“Anxiety is not only a part of being pregnant, it’s part of being human! Everyone worries about their lives, and pregnancy is no exception,” says Dr. Wegner. “But there’s a difference between normal worrying and all-consuming anxiety during pregnancy, also known as antenatal anxiety.” Talk to your provider if your anxiety is causing you to experience these symptoms:
- You’re unable to concentrate on your day-to-day life.
- You have trouble functioning at work or home.
- You experience a frequent sense of panic, fear or restlessness.
- You have obsessive thoughts.
- You don’t enjoy things that used to make you happy.
- You experience heart palpitations and muscle tension.
Regan Lyons is a freelance writer who lives in St. Joseph, MO, with her husband and 3-year-old daughter.
As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.