7 Fears Pregnant Women Have—but Shouldn’t
Finding out you’re expecting is cause for celebration—but if you’re like most women, you’ll probably have your fair share of fears throughout the nine months your baby is growing inside of you. And it’s hard not to get scared considering the breadth of info on the Internet—especially if this is your first pregnancy and you don’t know what the heck to expect.
For the most part, though, if you’re healthy, there’s no reason to freak out too much. “Most women who optimize their health pre-pregnancy, have a good diet, exercise, and obtain appropriate prenatal care are encouraged to enjoy their pregnancy rather than worry unnecessarily,” says Alyssa Dweck, M.D., assistant clinical professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. That being said, that may still not assuage your fears (after all, they’re not always rational)—so we got two top ob-gyns to break down the most common ones women have when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth…and why you shouldn’t work yourself into a panic.
About one in five early pregnancies ends in miscarriage during the first 10 to 12 weeks or so, says Dweck. Most are completely random genetic abnormalities and can’t be prevented, so worrying about them will do you no good. But to lower your overall risk, don’t smoke and maintain as healthy a weight as much as possible. If you notice any bleeding orpain early in pregnancy, you should consult your doctor to make sure you aren’t miscarrying. Otherwise, Dweck says cautious optimism is reasonable. And the good news is that even if you miscarry, your chances of miscarrying in the next pregnancy don’t increase, says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale Medical School.
Finding Out Your Baby Has Birth Defect
The majority of birth defects are unpreventable—and they’re pretty uncommon. Birth defects occur in about three to four percent of babies, but that means 96 to 97 percent of newborns will have none, says Dweck. We’re lucky that modern technology affords us high-resolution ultrasounds that can check for abnormalities—everything from heart malformations to missing fingers or limbs to a cleft palate or lip—around 22 weeks during pregnancy. That being said, it’s best to stay away from alcohol, cigarettes, and certain medications (lithium and anti-seizure drugs) to limit the chance of this happening.
Hurting Your Bump – And Hurting Your Baby
Good news: It’s nearly impossible to hurt the baby by being bumped because there’s a ton of protective amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus, says Minkin.
Going Into Premature Labor
There’s really no telling who might go into premature labor, but it seems to be more likely in women who have a prior history of preterm delivery, are carrying multiples, or are experiencing preterm rupture of the membranes or bleeding, says Dweck. Meanwhile, Minkin estimates that premature labor happens in about 10 percent of pregnancies and says that women who don’t gain too much weight lower their chances of this happening by keeping blood pressure and diabetes in check—both of which can lead to an early induction. But the average woman really shouldn’t worry too much about going into labor before 37 weeks, say experts.
The Cord Wrapping Around Your Baby’s Neck
A nuchal cord—when a loop of the umbilical cord wraps around the fetal neck—is actually fairly common during delivery and happens in about 25 percent of women, says Dweck—but it’s nothing to fret over. The amniotic fluid should provide enough of a buffer between the cord and the baby. “Rarely, the cord can be wrapped multiple times and cause trouble, but this is the exception,” she says.
Having a Less-Than-Perfect Labor
From inescapable pain to not making it to the hospital on time to pooping while pushing, women worry about everything and anything when it comes to labor. Sure, birth is painful, but there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to safe and effective pain management: spinal and epidural anesthesia, narcotics, relaxation, and breathing techniques, says Dweck. “I often advise keeping an open mind in this regard and remind women that accepting pain medication is not a cop out or failure,” she says. As far as the baby making an appearance before you’re settled into the labor and delivery room, that’s the stuff of soap operas, not real life, says Minkin. But pooping? Sorry, but the majority of women do it—and docs have seen it all, so there’s no reason to be fearful of this. In fact, “if you’re not pooping, you’re not pushing hard enough,” says Minkin.
Needing an Emergency C-Section
Although the C-section rate is currently between 30 to 35 percent of all deliveries, emergencies are only a small portion of that, says Dweck. You’ll need a C-section within 30 minutes if the baby’s heartbeat isn’t strong, if the placenta separates from the uterine wall, or if you have cord prolapse where the water breaks and the umbilical cord starts to come out first. But chances are, you won’t need one—Minkin thinks it happens in no more than one to two percent of cases—but obstetrics can be unpredictable, of course. “The vast majority have a very safe outcome,” says Minkin.