Many women find themselves obsessively trying to become pregnant. Rather than basking in success once they achieve their goal, the obsessive behavior once again returns and this time is stronger than ever. While worry, concern and even stress are a normal part of every pregnancy, they can easily mutate into full-blown obsessions. Then an expectant mother runs the risk of destroying any chance she has of relaxing and enjoying this exciting time in her life.
There are many organic reasons behind pregnancy obsessions. Experts actually believe they originate from maternal instincts developed in order to protect and nurture offspring. Even so, there’s a fine line between safeguarding an unborn baby and turning a corner into crazy-town.
Obsessions can also be a way for expectant mothers to handle the temporary loss of control regarding their bodies and emotional state. Obsessive behavior can fool a person into feeling like they are bringing a sense of order to an otherwise out-of-control situation.
And of course, exhaustion and hormones do their part in fanning the flames for these nasty thoughts. Running on low-quality sleep with these complicated secretions coursing through their veins, it’s really a wonder that all pregnant women aren’t raving basket cases!
It’s up to an expectant mother to put on the brakes and stop these obsessions in their tracks. Sometimes a bit of a rational talking-to will help - so here goes. Here are 15 issues not worth obsessing over during pregnancy.
15 Mowing The Lawn
Immaculate fingernails, perfect pedicures and hedged lady gardens - labor and delivery nurses and doctors couldn’t care less. So don’t do it for them. Now, if these personal grooming routines matter to a pregnant woman, then that’s a different story. In that case, keep it up as per usual.
As a preggo’s belly expands and maneuvering to shave or polish becomes a feat worthy of a Cirque du Soleil performer, she may want to splurge and head to a salon. Letting a professional work their magic on fingers and toes, not to mention handling hot wax, is the ideal way to relax and enjoy a treat before baby comes along. Keep services simple and as natural as possible so upkeep isn’t urgently required.
One point of note - while the medical team has more pressing concerns rather than whether an expectant mother has gone au naturel in terms of bodily hair - she may want to consider shaving her legs so baby isn’t inflicted with a mean case of rug burn on their way out!
14 No Harm No Foul
When it comes to pregnancy, gestational OCD is unfortunately not all that uncommon. It is characterized by unrealistic worries of accidentally harming the baby in utero. (If I get a massage, pedicure, color my hair, drink a coffee - I’ll harm my baby). It is believed that one out of every 200 pregnant women will experience some level of OCD. The rule of thumb on these worrisome thoughts is as follows: if it takes up an hour or more of an expectant mother’s day, then it needs to be reined in.
It is difficult to diagnose OCD during pregnancy because it also happens to be a time characterized by raging hormones and a heightened emotional state. It can also occur up to one year following the birth of a baby.
While it is important for expectant mothers to take a common sense approach to protecting their baby, (be wary of toxic chemicals, steer clear of drinking and smoking, perhaps forego that rollercoaster ride) life still has to be lived. And preferably in an enjoyable fashion whether pregnant or not!
13 Get Yer Kicks
Type “kick count obsession” into a search engine and anyone will see that this is a serious top-level concern for new moms. Once upon a time, expectant mothers were simply asked if baby was active during part of the day (or night) and that was that. However, with the advent of the kick chart, paranoid obsessions have gone through the roof.
Many women spend a good portion of their day counting the tiny kicks, punches, rolls and flutters - then breathing a sigh of relief when they hit the minimum mark each day. Only to start the obsessive counting again 24 hours later.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend 10 movements within a two-hour period. Generally, it won’t take this long and as a woman gradually comes to know her baby’s pattern of movement, it will be easier for her to know when something seems off.
For anyone worried about their baby’s lack of motion: drink a glass of cold water, eat some fruit, and/or don’t multi-task while focussing on fetal movement. If the response is still underwhelming, then head to the doctor or midwife for further tests.
12 Out Of Order
The nesting instinct dates back to the dawn of time. Pregnant women routinely receive energy boosts which they use to clean and tidy before their new arrival makes an appearance. But natural instinct can easily turn to irrational obsession when it consumes every waking moment.
Baby won’t care if the window blinds are dusted, if the furnace room is de-cluttered or if there are cobwebs in every ceiling corner. As well, daily mopping, sweeping, scrubbing, bending and lifting can take a toll on a regular person - let alone on someone harboring another human being inside their womb.
In order to get a handle on any nesting tendencies before they head into OCD territory, create a list of things to accomplish before baby arrives. Make sure it is realistic and then tick them off one by one. But a preggo definitely needs to pace herself as well as find time to bask in the clean and tidy environment she has created too.
11 Poop Happens
When a woman is straining to push a seven pound blob out of her body, chances are some poop may come along for the ride. There’s just no sense in stressing about this. If it occurs - a new mom can rest assured that she wasn’t the first and she certainly won’t be the last.
The fact is that when pushing a baby out during childbirth, a woman uses the same muscles she would when having a bowel movement. Doctors and midwives aren’t bothered by poop - it comes with their territory. What does bother them however is when the fear of pooping inhibits a woman from pushing properly in order to get baby out.
An expectant mother can avoid eating heavy foods as her due date looms closer. She can also undergo an enema before delivery. Although they were once considered standard practice, enemas are no longer recommended. That said, some doctors will okay them if they feel they will provide a laboring woman with peace of mind. Unfortunately, neither suggestion is surefire. Sometimes poop just happens!
10 Pink Or Blue?
Gender disappointment is an actual thing. We get it - it can be devastating to parents when their natural instinct has lead them astray or if they really had their hopes up for having one particular gender. But snap out of it - there’s no sense in wallowing in disappointment. When all is said and done - it is what it is and one way or another, a parent will come to accept and love a baby no matter the sex.
Here are a few suggestions on dealing with gender obsession head on:
- Schedule a gender revealing ultrasound - This will give a parent time to come to terms with disappointment before the due date.
- Acknowledge disappointment - Parents have a right to be disappointed so don't hide it - at least not from themselves and spouses.
- Joy will come - Take solace in the fact that disappointment fades.
- Talk to a professional - Hormones and exhaustion can wreak havoc. Don't hesitate to seek help if it's needed.
Being disappointed in a baby’s gender does not make a person a bad parent. It makes them a normal one.
9 Every Little Symptom
Symptoms that normally spell trouble or hint at underlying problems are just another typical day for a preggo. Issues like vomiting, queasiness, weight gain, diarrhea, constipation and heartburn are par for the course where an expectant mother is concerned.
Using her gut instinct can come in handy for an expectant mother when she’s experiencing twinges, aches and pains. Is her back sore because of the extra weight she is carrying or is there possibly a more serious reason? If something seems off, then playing it safe isn’t necessarily a bad thing. That is, unless a woman’s gut is consistently crying wolf throughout her pregnancy.
That said, the health of a mother and baby are top priorities. A few symptoms that should never be ignored in pregnancy and should be checked out include:
- Bleeding - This can signify placental problems or miscarriage.
- Abdominal pain - It may be a symptom of an ectopic pregnancy, cyst or miscarriage.
- Long-lasting fever - If a woman's had one longer than 36 hours, she should see her doctor.
- Blurred Vision - This may be a sign of gestational diabetes or preeclampsia.
- Swollen hands and face - This may signify toxemia.
8 Food For Thought
Pregnancy can be a difficult time for women who like to feel in control. Oftentimes, women may react by asserting rigid control over what they can such as diet and exercise. This coping mechanism can easily backfire by not only becoming an all-consuming obsession but by also proving risky to both mom and baby as well.
A recent study has shown that more than 20% of expectant mothers in the U.S. do not gain the minimum amount of weight recommended during pregnancy. Even though we logically realize that weight gain is part of a healthy pregnancy, it is still stigmatized. Celebrities are photographed in bikinis mere weeks after giving birth and preggos who gain less weight than typical are glorified as looking great.
It’s important to remember that balance is key. There’s no point in overthinking too much or not enough weight gain unless an expectant mother’s healthcare provider has made specific suggestions. The health of a growing baby and soon-to-be mother should be the primary focus.
7 Distract And Deflect
The miscarriage obsession can be a hard one to shake - especially if a woman has suffered one before. Which is why it may take a concerted and focussed effort to curb these obsessive worries as soon as they start. One suggestion is to have distracting and pleasant thoughts at the ready in order to change the train of thought when it turns negative. Think about an upcoming vacation that’s planned, or a visit to see relatives, even an enjoyable night out with friends.
Shutting herself off from information overload is another way to keep positive and limit the negative. By constantly googling and reading up on worst-case scenarios, an obsession will continue to flare.
Remember the odds are in a pregnant woman’s favor - less than 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. A woman needs to try her hardest to put these worries aside and place herself as well as her baby in the hands of fate and her healthcare team. It will become easier to enjoy each day as it passes if not constantly obsessing over every possible twinge and symptom.
6 Only The Lonely
For women who don’t have a friend or family member pregnant alongside of them, this can be an extremely lonely period. Especially for women who don’t enjoy the spotlight. It’s difficult for others to empathize in terms of bodily changes, the rollercoaster of emotions, annoying symptoms and basic lack of control characterizing pregnancy.
Now before any preggos decide to throw themselves a “poor me” themed pity party, there is a way to take back control. A woman can easily change her lonely outlook by seeking out a new community of soon-to-be moms. Join a pregnancy yoga or swim class or find an online support group geared toward expectant mothers. Whatever the case, be open about these feelings of loneliness so they don’t become all-consuming.
No one’s saying a preggo has to find a whole batch of new BFFs - but a tight-knit group of women going through something similar can make all the difference in the world to a lonely woman. If the loneliness persists, a woman should talk to her doctor or midwife as it may be a symptom of depression.
5 Health Benefits
This is a tough one. Worrying about birth defects is something almost every expectant parent mentions as crossing their mind throughout a pregnancy. The best way to deal with it is to make hope a motivator as opposed to fear or worry.
A soon-to-be mom can do what she can to ensure baby has the best possible start in life - like taking pre-natal vitamins, not drinking or smoking, eating well, engaging in exercise - but the buck really stops there. Excessive negative thinking can be harmful for baby and it can definitely put a damper on what should be a happy and exciting time for all involved.
Expectant parents can have a conversation with their healthcare provider about undergoing prenatal tests yet this can turn into a slippery slope for obsessive types. These tests have limitations and can’t test for everything. Also - many are geared toward giving false positives which can be worrisome and also lead to more invasive tests.
For soon-to-be parents with legitimate fears of their baby having birth defects, it may make sense to consult with a genetic counsellor.
4 Must Love Babies
No matter how much a woman obsesses over whether she will be a good mother, there’s just no way of knowing until motherhood is upon her and there’s no turning back. Keep in mind, that just because a preggo never fancied herself a baby or kid person, this has no effect on her mothering skills or state of mind concerning her own child.
Typically, this particular obsession doesn’t rear its ugly head until later in pregnancy. Once early worries over miscarriage and seemingly eternal nausea fade, new stresses will take their place. This is completely normal - most human beings can’t help but have some level of worry and fear over the unknown. It’s how we are hard-wired.
But remember - as long as a baby is loved and kept safe a parent is doing an amazing job. When it comes to motherhood, things have a way of falling into place. Trust us - they always do.
3 What's The Rush?
A newborn baby is perfectly content sleeping in a cozy cardboard box just as well as a $3000 top-of-the-line crib. By all means, feel free to shop around, browse online, take part in some window shopping in order to construct the perfectly designed nursery. For everyone else - the procrastinators, the ones who like to comparison shop and not feel rushed, the women who have been having a rough time and haven’t been feeling great - the ideal nursery just isn’t worth obsessing over!
Rushing to finish a nursery before baby arrives is on par with hurrying to paint and decorate a brand new house for a housewarming party. Six months later, once a person has lived there for a while and has come to know the intricacies of the space as well as their practical needs, they may regret that over-stuffed L-shaped couch and brass candelabra. Same goes for a nursery.
Adding to the nursery decor piece-meal as time passes is pretty standard practice - even if it means it’s not complete until baby reaches their first birthday!
2 Weighing In
Time to face facts - if a woman is pregnant then like it or not there will come a time when she won’t be able to zip up her jeans. So rather than obsess about inevitable weight gain, make the priority focus on staying comfortable, keeping healthy and feeling good.
For women who know they lean toward obsessiveness or who struggle with body image issues, they should consider requesting that their doctor or midwife keep them in the dark about their weight gain. Unless there’s a specific problem, there’s no real reason they need to be told a number during their checkups.
Preggos should avoid comparing themselves to other pregnant women as well. Women will gain varying amounts of weight in varying areas and each will carry it differently too. Clothes that fit well (as opposed to regular clothes stretched to capacity) can make a big difference to how a woman looks and feels.
So to all the preggos out there: don’t waste time fretting about every salt and vinegar chip or chocolate chip cookie. As long as a baby and expectant mother are both healthy, weight gain is small potatoes and easily managed.
1 Eyes On The Prize
When it comes to labor and delivery - it will be what it will be so there’s no point in planning or panicking as it won’t make a lick of difference. For women whose personalities will benefit by some recon work, then there’s no stopping them from googling a live birth and learning what they can from it.
But for those individuals who will only fuel their obsessive behavior by watching childbirth in action, then drop that mouse and move away from the monitor. Remember - millions of women have gone through this before and a million more will go through it in the future. Some even more than once. Honestly - how bad can it be?
What it comes down to is that only two individuals have control over labor and delivery (hint: neither is mom-to-be) - and they are baby and Mother Nature. So let nature take its course while allowing the healthcare provider to do what they are paid to do and make any important decisions.
In the end, whether naturally or via C-section, with or without medication, one way or another a new mother will have her baby. No sense in overthinking the how - it really doesn’t matter.