Pregnancy fears are commonly experienced throughout the world. It is a bittersweet and stressful period for all women.
The expectant mother goes through notable bodily transformations that impact her life in various ways. It is only human to experience some anxiety during pregnancy because it is a disruption and change that can trigger several concerns and questions.
Several hormonal changes are also responsible for emotional difficulties, which can trigger severe anxiety in some women. Even in cases where the pregnancy is expected, wanted, and planned for, the expectant mother still worries. Her worries include the huge changes and responsibilities that are ahead of her.
In pregnancy, many expectant mothers tend to reflect on memories about their childhood and the relationship they had with their parents, particularly their mother.
These thoughts can trigger a great deal of anxiety. In that sense, pregnancy doesn’t only present an opportunity to come to terms with the past; it also prepares for motherhood.
Health concerns are far more present among pregnant women than in the general populace. Origins of these concerns differ depending on the trimester.
For instance, during the first trimester, the fear of having a miscarriage is more present. As the pregnancy progresses to the third trimester, the fear of childbirth becomes the major concern.
Some women are convinced that their fears are absurd, while others believe that their worries and concerns are justified. Some women even validate theirs to the extent of believing that their fears are somewhat positive and helpful.
A specific level of anxiety can be good for the pregnancy. This is because it motivates the expectant mother to not indulge in habits or behaviors that can put the baby at risk.
Anxiety is also an indication of an increased sense of responsibility. This can aid the expectant mother in properly planning for the child’s arrival. The crux of this article is not the total elimination of pregnancy fears.
It is to learn how to handle these fears to prevent them from negatively affecting the pregnancy.
Common pregnancy fears
Fear of miscarriage or birthing an unhealthy child
This is one of the most prominent pregnancy concerns. Some expectant mother worries that the pregnancy won’t turn out well or that they’ve done something that could negatively affect their baby’s health.
A previous miscarriage, premature delivery, or had fertility issues are possible reasons she might have this fear.
They could be why most women are concerned that their body won’t have the capacity to carry the pregnancy full-term. Finding out the origin of your fears can aid you in lowering your anxiety levels. It’s also vital to remember that an overwhelming majority of pregnancies result in a healthy baby’s birth.
To lessen anxiety, expectant mothers should try to carry out relaxation exercises. They should engage in activities they enjoy to help relieve themselves of stress. It’s essential to channel your energy to what is within your control and let go of the rest.
Fear of not getting back your pre-pregnancy figure
Many women are very conscious of their looks, so it is expected of them to have concerns about their physical appearance. They are anxious that their bodies won’t look attractive anymore due to the weight gain that comes with pregnancy.
Pregnancy is mostly a bodily experience, so the concern originates from not controlling the consequent body changes. This is very unpleasant for several women, but it is essential to not be hard on yourself and accept that your body will require time to recover.
Activities and lifestyles, such as eating healthy and physical fitness routines, can help.
Fear of childbirth
This fear is most present and has a stronger impact than other fears as expectant mothers approach their pregnancy’s final trimester.
Approximately 20% of women have admitted to being afraid of childbirth, while an estimate of about 10% has a phobia for childbirth. If it’s their first pregnancy experience, what triggers this dread is the fear of the unknown and loss of control.
Some expectant mothers might prefer undergoing a cesarean section because they believe it will grant them more control over childbirth.
If it isn’t their first pregnancy experience, this pregnancy fear could stem from a bad or unpleasant pregnancy experience.
However, even if the pregnancy turns out well during their first time, some unknown concerns will still lurk as they await second or third delivery. That is more than enough to make some women anxious.
Generally, most women who are scared of childbirth are afraid of the pains that come with child delivery. They worry that they won’t be able to bear the pain and handle it properly.
They are also scared of losing control of their emotions. Fear can also be enhanced by unpleasant experiences they have heard about childbirth from friends and family members.
Some fears originate from the dramatic representations viewed on television. It helps to express your fears with an individual you trust or a therapist. Prenatal classes are also a good avenue to receive beneficial information.
Carrying out visualization exercises and discussing with mothers who have had positive experiences can also help mitigate the fear of childbirth. Finally, women who are scared of childbirth should remember that there is no wrong or right way to have a child.
What they should know is that no matter what, they’ll do their best.
Fear of being a bad parent
Many parents worry that they will be unable to cater to their children or love them enough. They can take solace in knowing that the relationship between parent and child will slowly grow and strengthen as they spend time with their children.
Moreover, the mother has already fostered a unique bond with her baby during the nine months of pregnancy.
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed at some point. Parents or potential parents with these concerns could consider having help during their first few weeks with the baby. Educating yourself about breastfeeding and infant care during your pregnancy can also help with pregnancy fears.
Fear of infant malnutrition or morning sickness affecting your baby
Contrary to what you think, babies are actually very good at assimilating all the possible nutrients from the foods you eat. It shouldn’t be a problem if you are subsisting on just snacks.
Where you should be concerned is the event of a sickness that intensely dehydrates you. Also, morning nausea or sickness doesn’t trigger any nutritional imbalance or affect the baby’s growth and nourishment.
However, you should ensure that you ingest your prenatal vitamins and eat right. You should eat small but regular or frequent meals. This is because small food portions are less overwhelming to your digestive system. Eating frequently ensures you don’t become famished, which is the period when women feel very nauseous.
However, if you always find yourself throwing up in the sink or over the toilet bowl, you should get an anti-nausea drug from your doctor. Ensure that this medication is safe for the baby.
A kicker is the fact that most expectant mothers can diet on a wider variety of healthy foods during the second trimester. This is also the same period when the baby starts gaining weight as well.
Fear of the mother’s stress affecting the baby
A lot of pregnant women are a bundle of raw nerves. Take a recipe of crazy hormones, complete exhaustion, planning for a baby, and then you have a pregnant woman as a result.
They are always edgy, but one thing they ought to know is that it is useless to get stressed over your stress levels. Your stress at work or home is not harmful to your child. This kind of stress is referred to as intermittent stress, the kind that our body adjusts to over some time.
However, what can affect your baby is acute or intense stress, triggered by an event such as the loss of a loved one or job loss. The stress triggered by such events can put your baby at risk and even lead to premature delivery.
Expectant mothers who are very prone to stress or tension should try to take things calmly. Activities such as finding a healthy way to vent could help.
Fear of giving birth to a baby with a defect(s)
Many expectant mothers get very tense whenever there is a prenatal test to monitor the health and development of their babies.
Chances that your baby could have a birth defect are very slim. Potential congenital disabilities could range from small and unimportant to serious complications. Some defects, such as a toenail or tiny heart defect, heal independently without developing complications after childbirth.
Even if a screening test result (like an ultrasound or quad screen) shows some abnormality, it doesn’t translate to the presence of a problem.
In several cases, further tests will alleviate such concerns and assure the prospective mother that everything is fine. To protect your baby, you should take multivitamins with folic acid before pregnancy. Also, ingest your prenatal vitamins every day to lessen the vulnerability to spinal and brain defects.
Finally, ensure you consult with your doctor about any particular concerns you harbor. Your doctor should be able to clarify the true risks based on factors such as your family history and age. It can help you assess your situation and prepare accordingly.
Fear of premature delivery
This fear is much more likely than before due to the consistently increasing statistics of premature deliveries. It should be noted that more than 70% of babies are delivered between 34-36 weeks of pregnancy. This is a period where the risk of developing pregnancy-related complications is far lesser.
A few things can be done by expectant mothers to lessen the risk of premature childbirth. They include abstinence from smoking and alcohol, regular prenatal checkups, and a daily dosage of prenatal folic acid supplements.
A study was recently carried out on about 40,000 women. It revealed that those who ingested the vitamins for a year before conceiving and were 50-70% less prone to premature childbirth during their pregnancies. Experts believe that folic acid intake is key in preventing particular genes from malfunctioning and triggering premature labor.
Fear of developing complications such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes
Preeclampsia is a complication that is caused by developing very high blood pressure. The risk of developing such is just between 5-8%, and it is more likely to occur in women below the age of 18 and above the age of 35. If you are prone to such complications, you should be closely monitored by your doctor or pregnancy care provider.
Preeclampsia is more likely to develop in the second half of pregnancy. In some cases, it occurs at a very late stage in which the consequent health effects are few. There’s no method to lessen your vulnerability to the condition.
You have to ensure you get regular prenatal checkups, during which your blood pressure level will be monitored. Some obvious signs that may alert your doctor to any preeclampsia indications could include swelling of your hands or face, blurry vision, and major headaches.
In the case of gestational diabetes (a condition in which your body cannot utilize sugar properly), it leads to sugar accumulation in the bloodstream. The risks of developing this complication are also very low, just like preeclampsia.
The condition can be handled by effecting simple changes in your diet and lessening your consumption of carbs.
When should you consult with an expert?
It is natural and normal to feel a certain level of anxiety during your pregnancy. However, if your anxiety is triggering a state of distress and inhibiting you from properly functioning, seek medical help. This could be a telltale sign of anxiety disorders, and it affects about 5-15% of pregnant women.
Pregnancy-related anxiety has been affiliated with indications of depression after the delivery of the baby. This is a crucial reason why you should seek medical assistance.
Anxiety signs have been known to coexist alongside signs of depression. Studies that have been carried out on the subject have shown that about 18% of expectant mothers go through a state of mild depression.
About 7-12% of expectant mothers go through moderate to intense depression due to pregnancy fears. It is unwise to tarry till you experience intense distress before seeking medical assistance.
Early detection and intervention make it much easier to treat the problem and lower the risk of developing complications.
The following indications should be watched out for. If experienced, immediately contact your doctor or pregnancy care provider:
- When one is feeling panic or loss of control
- Experiences of unpredictable, spontaneous crying spells
- Terrible mood swings such as sadness, melancholy, exhausting anger, or general despair and irritability
- Sleep interruptions
- Having difficulty in maintaining focus and being restless
- Low self-esteem situations such as a feeling of impropriety as a mother-to-be and a tendency to put yourself down
- Intense and invasive worries about the baby’s health or your health
Anxiety treatment: Is it safe to take medication for anxiety during pregnancy?
Some pregnant women are worried about the side effects that result from taking anxiety medications during pregnancy. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there are types of anxiety medication that have a minimal effect or are safe on the fetus starting in the second trimester.
Remember that refusal or failure to treat anxiety during pregnancy can also negatively impact both the mother and baby. Consult with your prenatal care provider to decide what’s best for your situation.
The following should be noted about pregnancy fears
- It’s completely normal to feel some anxiety during pregnancy.
- The most common fears relate to child delivery, the health of the baby and the ability to adequately cater for the baby.
Remember, if your anxiety is triggering a great deal of distress or inhibiting you from functioning, see a doctor.