Pregnancy Fear Factors
Theme parks should have a ride called “The Next Nine Months” to exemplify the emotions a woman and her partner go through while expecting. A roller coaster is about the closest thing I can think of to demonstrate the drastic changes of emotion—with all of the highs and lows, twists and turns causing feelings of anticipation, worry and excitement—that are so common during pregnancy. When the ride is finally over, it’s left you breathless and dizzy, yet beaming with a sense of accomplishment—because you survived!
While there is a beautiful, dreamy state of being pregnant, with decorating your nursery, picking out names and guessing whose eyes and nose your little one will have, there are fears that every expecting mother- and father-to-be have.
Fear Factor –Having a Miscarriage
The Real Deal – The possibility of losing a baby weighs heavily on all expectant mothers’ minds, especially in the first trimester. Less than 20 percent of all pregnancies end up in miscarriages. They are more likely to occur within the first few weeks of conception, before being detected as a pregnancy and would be recognized as a regular menstrual cycle; most women don’t even realize they had a miscarriage. The rate drops drastically, to less than 5 percent at 6-8 weeks, when doctors detect a heartbeat.
Talk to your physician about your concerns and questions about miscarriage. Most miscarriages occur because of a baby’s chromosomal defects. And remember, if you do experience a miscarriage, grieving is a normal response. Seek out the support of those who love you and others who have experienced this loss.
Fear Factor – Going into Preterm Labor
The Real Deal – Only 12 percent (1 in 8) of pregnancies go into preterm labor. While there is no certain reason why a woman goes into preterm labor, it’s helpful to know there are three groups of women that run a greater risk of giving birth before 37 weeks: women who have had a previous preterm birth, women who are pregnant with multiples and women with certain uterine or cervical abnormalities.
“My prescription for my preterm labor with my twins was bed rest, and that is the reason I was able to carry them to 32 weeks,” says Janie Woods, Kansas City mother of twins. “While it was scary to be on bed rest, it would have been even scarier to have delivered them at 22 weeks, which was how far along I was when my doctor placed me on bed rest.”
You can help prevent preterm birth by learning the symptoms of preterm labor, taking your prenatal vitamins, getting regular checkups and not drinking or smoking while pregnant.
Fear Factor – Labor Will Be Tough or Painful
The Real Deal – There is no getting around the fact that there will be some pain and discomfort during labor, but the important thing is to keep a positive attitude going into it. Take steps to stay comfortable and become educated with the laboring process. Most hospitals offer birthing classes or Lamaze classes that explain helpful breathing techniques or positioning to cope with the pain.
“I never imagined that such an amazing thing as being pregnant and giving birth would scare me so much,” says Amber Kelly, Belton mother of one.
Ask your doctor about pain control options that are safe for you and your baby, like Demerol or receiving an epidural.
Fear Factor – Needing an Emergency C-Section
The Real Deal – A third of pregnancies end in a c-section, and while many women, including me, couldn’t even entertain the idea, sometimes it’s a medical necessity either for the mother or the baby.
“I didn’t even know what was going to happen to me as they rushed me down the hall for a c-section because the cord was wrapped around my daughter’s neck. All I kept thinking was that I didn’t have a plan B. I was supposed to have a vaginal birth!” share Jenny Moore, Olathe mother of two.
The majority of the c-sections that do occur are planned ahead of time, for reasons like a baby’s being breech, too big or because of a previous c-section. Get a birth plan together before being admitted into the hospital, and keep an open mind to the alternatives. The more educated and prepared you are, the more you will feel in control and less surprised or scared of having that c-section.
Whether you’re lying awake at night obsessing about the awful nicknames your child will be given in grade school or a potential emergency c-section, you aren’t alone. Those fears and worries—fact-based or hormonal—are typical. Give yourself a break. If you haven’t already noticed, you’re pregnant for goodness’ sake.
- Write out all the questions and concerns you have, before becoming pregnant and during the pregnancy, and review them with your doctor at every appointment.
- Refrain from comparing your pregnancy to your friend’s or colleague's pregnancy, as each person and each pregnancy is different.
- Journal your feelings and the changes you experience in your pregnancy on a regular basis.
- Speak with your partner and share your fears and concerns with him. Work as a team to research any information you want to learn more about.
A Belton resident, Jennifer Duxbury is a freelance writer, full-time mom to her 19-month-old son and a pregnancy fear survivor!