As women, many of us feel naturally inclined to become mothers. Some see it as a calling and others grow into it as they age. In any case, though, there’s no doubt that everyone has at least some fear when it comes to pregnancy. Whether it’s physical fear, mental fear, social fear or emotional fear, being pregnant is a roller coaster ride full of highs and lows.
While some women have smooth sailing all the way to holding their little ones in their arms for the first time, others deal with bumps along the way. Whether it’s having a hard time accepting your new (but temporary!) body, dealing with the sharp right turn your social life takes or getting cold feet about the commitment that comes with a child, there's a ton of things women feel throughout their pregnancy that they may not share with others for fear of sounding selfish.
Since bringing a child into the world is a selfless act, women may feel unfit or unprepared if they admit that they’re worried about things as trivial as their bodies or their social life. The truth is, though, that these things aren’t trivial at all. While being a mother is certainly an important job that no one should take for granted, we’re still women.
We still want to fit into that cute dress we love or get tipsy (or drunk) with our girlfriends once in awhile. Contrary to the opinion of some women, becoming a mother shouldn’t launch you into nun-hood where you lose your former selves for the better of another. After all, your children are happiest when you are.
As is the case with any fears or concerns, the healthiest thing to do is to talk about it. Once the dialog starts, it’s incredible to see how many others share your issues and how much easier it is to deal with once you see you’re not alone. The following are the Top 8 Most Common Pregnancy and Post-Delivery Fears.
7 I’m Fat and I’ll Never Get My Body Back
First of all, you’re not fat. While ballooning to a size much larger than the one you’ve been most of your life can be shocking, you need to remind yourself that you’re carrying another person inside of you. No matter how logical and reasonable you are, though, no woman wants to feel uncomfortable in their skin and extra weight you’re not used to has a great way of knocking your confidence down a few pegs.
While it’s important to accept that weight will be gained, there are certainly some general parameters you can stick to in order to maintain a healthy pregnancy and know that your body is on the right track. Doctors recommend about a 25 to 35-pound weight gain for normal-weight women (consult your doctor for the best recommendation for your body).
While it’s not necessarily dangerous or unhealthy to gain more than the recommended amount, it certainly becomes more difficult to lose after delivery. In addition to maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy, other ways to ensure you get your pre-baby body back include:
On top of the things that make you biologically healthier, feeling good is sometimes about how you feel about how you look, too. Even if it’s just for you, take some time to do the things that made you feel good pre-pregnancy; wear clothes that make you feel good about your body, squeeze in some time to do your hair and no matter how tired you are, shower (even if it means you lying on the bottom of the shower floor with your eyes shut).
6 Sex Will Never Be the Same
Anything that big plowing its way through a hole that small is bound to wreak some havoc, right? Many women fear that the amount of stretching (and sometimes ripping) that goes on during childbirth will leave them- let’s call them cookies- changed. The great thing about our bodies is that they’re pretty resilient. It has a crazy ability to snap back and recover from that kind of trauma, and your cookie is no different.
According to a study from the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, nearly 70% of women report that, within 6 months, things are running normally and their cookies are ready for consumption (no pun intended, really…). Once your muscles regain their strength, many new moms will even report an improvement in their sex lives with a higher level of intimacy and satisfaction.
If things aren’t completely back to normal within the first few months, don’t freak out- it’ll get there. While the no-sleep thing might dampen yours (and your husbands) libido at the beginning, things will slowly re-stabilize. Little tips on post-delivery sex are:
If this is a serious concern of yours, the best thing you can really do is to talk about it with your partner. Bringing the issue to light may relieve some pressures on you and will allow you to feel more comfortable when trying again.
5 Labor is Going to Hurt SO Much
Between decorating the nursery, picking out a name and going to those doctors appointments, it’s often pretty easy to forget that this baby is going to need a way out of you. You’ve heard the stories about the ripping, the pooping, the blood and the extreme pain.
You’re not the first one to have to do this and you certainly won’t be the last. Women have been doing this (and choosing to do it again!) for many, many years. There is no one correct approach to giving birth and so it’s important to treat it as such. If you’re the type that needs to be prepared and super informed, go to child birthing classes, talk to others about their experiences, and make up a detailed birth plan with your doctor.
You might be afraid of the pain
If you’re the opposite, though, just focus on the millions of women who have done it before you and trust that if they can get through it, so can you.
If all else fails, there’s a ton to help with the pain. Figure out what kind of birth you want before going into it so that there are no surprises. And if you want to keep your sanity, whatever you do, stay away from watching those gory delivery videos.
4 I’m Not Going to be a Good Mom
Having a brand-spanking new baby is a scary thing. Besides them being tiny and fragile, there are seemingly a million things that can go wrong. What if I change their diaper wrong and the baby gets a rash? What if I drop them? Or worse, what if I lose them? It happens more than you think.
As they grow up, what if I lose my temper too often? What if I need time alone? Is that selfish? The truth is that there's no right way to be a parent. The love you have for your child will come out in many different forms and it’s important not to dwell on all the things that could go wrong. Because chances are, they won’t.
No two mother's parent alike
No matter how motherly you feel while pregnant, you’ll turn into a mother the second you hold your little one for the first time. Becoming the parent you want to be is about knowledge and awareness. Take the things you loved from your own mother’s parenting style and try to emulate that. Similarly, try to leave the things that weren’t your favorite behind.
Most importantly, though, don’t pay any mind to the opinions of all the “experts” out there who seem to know what’s best for your child more than you do. There’s a learning curve to this mothering thing, but in the end, you’ll figure out what works best for your family on your own. Doing research is a great way to learn and improve, but don’t let others dictate what kind of mother you ought to be.
3 I’ll Screw This Pregnancy Thing Up
In today’s world of Googling and online opinion forums, there is no shortage of people giving their two cents about how you should handle your pregnancy. If you look hard enough, someone has an opinion that there is a danger in just about everything when you’re pregnant.
Whether it’s staying away from cleaning products, not touching cash receipts (because the film on it is toxic), or staying away from cold cuts, if you listened to everything people said was dangerous, you’d spend 9 months in a bubble with oven mitts on.
Take comfort in knowing that no two pregnancies are alike
While some things are dangerous for you to eat or come into contact with during you pregnancy, your doctor will outline the big ones during your first prenatal visit. Remember that your mother was pregnant with you before all of these restrictions and recommendations existed and you turned out fine (well, mostly fine…)
2 My Baby Will be Born With a Birth Defect
This is a big one. All parent’s want for their babies (before even meeting them) is for them to be born healthy and happy. The fear of their child coming out with a birth defect is scary because no parents want to see their baby struggle or suffer.
The reality of birth defects, though, is that there is only about a 3% risk of delivering a baby who has one. On top of this already small number, birth defects like clubfoot or webbed toes and even some heart defects are easily treatable nowadays and many of them are very successful.
Although the cause of birth defects is unknown in about 70% of cases, if you don’t belong to higher-risk groups, the likelihood of delivering a baby with problems is even lower. These risk groups include:
The only thing you can really do to remedy this fear is to minimize the risk. The best way to do this is to pretend you’re pregnant as soon as you’ve decided to try and conceive. As most birth defects happen within the first week or two after you miss your period, there is really no time too early to start living a healthier lifestyle for your child. Ways you can improve your health for an incoming baby include:
While I’m certainly not suggesting you live in a plastic bubble away from anything that can be hazardous to your pregnancy, some risks just aren’t worth taking.
1 I’ll Have a Miscarriage
This is a huge (and understandable) fear of any expecting woman. You hear the horror stories and become paranoid that every normal pregnancy symptom you have is a sign of miscarriage- but it’s not. Having a miscarriage is unlikely. Less than 20% of total pregnancies end this way and most occur within the first few weeks of pregnancy when many women don’t even know they’re expecting.
If you’re younger than 35, the risk lessens to 10-12%. After the doctor sees the baby’s heart rate (at about 6 to 8 weeks) the risk drops to about 5%.
Your pregnancy is going to be fine
More importantly than all the numbers, though, is the fact that miscarriages are most often caused by chromosomal abnormalities that prevent the fetus from developing normally. This means that it’s totally unavoidable- there’s nothing you can do to change it.
All in all, while pregnancy fears are completely normal (you are single-handedly growing a person inside of you), don’t let them bring you down too much. No one will ever be perfect and many of the things you’re worried about have such a slim chance of happening- don’t waste your energy and thoughts on it. When all else fails, just remind yourself over and over that women have been doing this long before hospitals, doctors, and prenatal vitamins existed- you’ll be okay.