First comes the excitement of being pregnant, then comes the worry. Once you’ve gotten used to being pregnant, you may be freaking out about things like miscarriage, the pain of labor, whether you’ll be able to breastfeed…the list goes on and on.
But experts say that pregnancy risks are low, especially for healthy women. So today, we’re giving you a reality check on 7 of the things pregnant women worry about most:
The risk of miscarriage is lower than you think. For women younger than 35, it’s 10 to 12%. Here’s a reassuring fact: by the time you hear your baby’s heartbeat on an ultrasound, the chance of miscarriage dips to less than 5%.
Try and remind yourself that many miscarriages happen because of chromosomal abnormalities that can’t be prevented. Activities like exercise, heavy lifting, and sex can’t cause a miscarriage. But things that can include drinking two or more cups of coffee a day, getting an STI, or gum disease.
2. Birth defects
For every 100 babies born in the U.S., about 97 of them don’t have a major birth defect. Many birth defects are minor or very treatable.
Experts advise you to act like you’re pregnant as soon as you decide you want a child. That’s because many birth defects may happen as early as a week or two after you miss your period! Make sure to take folic acid so you can reduce the risk of defects, stop drinking alcohol, eat a healthy diet, and stop smoking.
3. Baby being born prematurely
As anxiety-provoking as pre-term birth is, the majority of babies in the U.S. are born after 37 weeks. The risk factors for preterm birth include being pregnant with multiples, having had a previous premature delivery, and certain uterine or cervical deformities.
Try to keep your weight at a healthy level and make sure your blood pressure and blood sugar levels are normal. Don’t smoke, drink, or use drugs, because they’re all associated with prematurity. Get prenatal care and all the needed immunizations.
4. Labor pain
We’re not here to tell you that labor doesn’t hurt, but you have lots of pain options. If you’re the type that wants to avoid medications, you might try a water birth, using relaxation techniques, and change positions during labor.
If you’re worried about the risks of using pain meds, know that a modern epidural is safe. And, there’s no evidence that getting an epidural will increase the chance of having to get a C-section.
If you’re hoping for a natural birth, a birthing coach or doula can help you by telling you to breathe, giving reassurance, and talking you through the stages of labor. Sign up for a childbirth course, so you can learn what to expect and reduce your anxiety. And check out our article, 10 Ways to Prep for Labor and Delivery.
Many women say that breastfeeding was “the hardest thing in the world.” Actually, around 90% of women successfully breastfeed, when they have support, patience, and realistic expectations. It takes two or three weeks before you and your baby really get to know each other, and your milk production matches her needs, so be patient.
You could visit a breastfeeding support group before your baby is born. Also, consider having a doula or lactation counselor on reserve for expert advice just in case.
6. Losing the baby weight
Stick to the guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy, and you’ll have an easier time losing it later.
Stay active during your pregnancy. And as soon as you get the go-ahead from your doctor after giving birth, start exercising again. Also, breastfeeding helps!
7. Getting to the hospital on time
In real life, delivering on the bathroom floor is rare. If this is your first baby, you’ll have plenty of time. From the time you’re at 4cm dilated, you have about 6 hours until the first stage of labor.
If you had a fast labor before, or you live far away from the hospital, check in with your doctor or midwife sooner rather than later.