Fears in pregnancy

Pregnancy and the birth of a child are extraordinary events and, as such, can also bring stress and fears with them. Let’s see what these fears can be and how to manage them.

Expecting a baby comes with a load of excitement and anticipation, but like so many other things in life it can also mean stress, anxieties and worries about the future to come. This happens not only to those who are in their first pregnancy but – to varying degrees depending on the situation – also to those who have already had children.

Some examples of fears of expectant mothers are:

  • Will I be a good mother? Will we be good parents?
  • How will my body change? If I gain so much weight will I go back to how I was before?
  • What if there are complications?
  • Will I be able to give birth? Will it hurt that much?
  • How will my life change? How will I reconcile home, work and a child?
  • What will my loved ones think of me if I have difficulties? Will they support me or will I be judged?
  • How will our married life change?

The well-being of the couple plays a very important role: if the news of a baby on the way arrives in a phase of crisis, the problems already present could exacerbate. Even in couples who experience a situation of well-being, an unexpected pregnancy could represent a major moment of difficulty if the partners have different life goals, perhaps related to age or working and economic conditions.

Furthermore, let’s not forget those who have been looking for a child for a long time: they will feel the weight of responsibilities even more, especially if they come from a history of uncompleted pregnancies.

Nine months, many changes

Although pregnancy concerns may be shared with the partner, in many cases it is the woman who bears the brunt of it, facing a series of physical and psychological changes. For future single mothers, it is even more important to be able to count on a good network of support and help.

Women have to juggle  nausea, tiredness, pain of various kinds . They have to be careful not to get sick to avoid complications for themselves and the baby. They have to modify their diet,  removing some foods  and  integrating others . They must be careful not to gain too much weight, but also not to deprive the child of necessary nutrients. They have to get organized at work and manage the bureaucratic process connected with maternity leave. They must remember all  medical appointments, tests and checkups . They have to think about everything that needs to be done before the baby is born. They have to go through  hormonal swings and emotional. They should listen politely to unsolicited but well-meaning advice. They must not forget that they are women, but not too much because they have a child to think about.

Must, must, must.

As already mentioned, the social network plays a very important role. Since no child comes into the world with an instruction booklet (!) it is important that the expectant mother can have trusted and reliable people with whom to consult, let off steam, discuss. In this sense, often the stories of friends, relatives (or one’s mother) risk having the opposite effect: instead of reassuring, worries increase. Stories of travails that lasted for days, indescribable pain and all kinds of atrocities are told, so much so that listening to them it is not clear how they managed to come out (more or less) unscathed. In addition, television programs set in obstetrics wards and specials dedicated to upcoming births of stars and starlets are constantly increasing. Finally, the internet: in the forums dedicated to motherhood you can find everything and its opposite; those who try to calm down about one aspect end up worrying about ten others.

The issue of judgment is particularly important: it may happen that the pregnant woman fears confronting herself – even with the experts who follow her – for fear of being judged because she asks questions to which she should already know the answers.

From daughters to mothers

Parenthood represents a major turning point in one’s life cycle. The woman knows that from this moment on she will no longer be just a daughter, sister, partner,… but a mother herself. She will be responsible for another living being and she wonders if she will be able to protect him. The people around her are starting to see her in this new guise as well, helping to recognize this role, in addition to those she already plays.

When a woman is preparing to become a mother, the comparison with the parental couple that she herself had is inevitable. There will be things that she will want to be able to repeat in the same way and others that she will absolutely want to avoid. Some behaviors that were incomprehensible to you as a child will now be clearer to you, with others you will continue to disagree.

If the relationship with his parents is positive, he will be able to confront them openly, finding the support he needs in these special months of his life. In the most conflicting situations there will be some more difficulties, but it is said that the problems already present remain such: there is still a nephew on the way and a future mother in need of love and affection.

Women who have experienced parental mourning will be able to experience motherhood with a more nostalgic mood, regretting not being able to share their emotions with the parent who passed away. Ambivalent feelings can also emerge, made of anger towards mourning, also depending on the circumstances and age in which it occurred. In these cases it is good for the expectant mother to find support in working through these feelings, possibly consulting a specialist.

The fear of “going crazy”

In the midst of so many worries, more than one pregnant woman may think she’s on the verge of a real nervous breakdown.

Bearing in mind that  during pregnancy  there is a sort of hormonal and emotional storm, it is important that the woman can feel supported in case she feels her load is excessive. Consulting with a psychologist does not mean admitting that you are not a good mother, but rather requesting support aimed at your own well-being and that of the child you are carrying. The future mother will thus be able to enhance her resources and discover new ones, reinforcing herself in view of the further changes that will occur after the birth.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform, Maternicity.com.

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