Common pregnancy fears busted
While pregnancy is an exciting time, it’s also a time of immense change, health implications and uncharted waters - many women will have never even changed a nappy before! Here are some common pregnancy fears and how to address them:
You’re afraid of not being able to cope
What with the prospect of millions of nappy changes, sleepless nights and breastfeeding, many pregnant women worry whether they’re up to the job of being a mum. So, well before your due date, start setting up a personal support system, asking friends to offer their pledge of support as their gift at your baby shower and seeking out your local New Zealand Breastfeeding Association support service to start forming your own network of new mums.
You’re terrified of childbirth
Victoria Marshall-Cerins, childbirth educator and founder of Birthready, recommends talking to your partner, GP and midwife, to work through anxieties along with considering hiring a birth assistant, or doula . She explains it's been shown that having a doula on hand can dramatically reduce a woman's chance of having a caesarian.
You’re worried about abnormalities
One of the most important things you can do for your unborn baby is to eat a balanced diet and take folic acid - even before you’ve conceived. "Taking a specific folic acid supplement before you fall pregnant is very important," says Dr Robyn Napier, spokesperson for the Australian Medical Association. "It's been shown to reduce neural tube defects by 50-70%." During early pregnancy, two ultrasound scans can identify a high risk of Down’s Syndrome, neural tube defects such as spina bifida, and other congenital defects.
You’re scared to have sex
Renee Adair, doula and childbirth educator with Birth Central, says it’s common to think sex might harm your unborn baby. “It’s a quite common fear – and it's just as common in men as it is in women,” she says. “It can be quite a big issue to get over, as it’s not always something people want to discuss, but making love when you’re pregnant is generally very safe and pleasurable. There are no medical reasons why you can’t continue to have a great sex life.”
You’re worried about losing your figure
Stretch marks, flabby tummy or over-sized hips – most women worry about regaining their pre-pregnancy body when they're expecting. Monica Rich, midwife and personal trainer, recommends eating small meals frequently to beat sugary or fast food cravings, and to expect natural weight loss after bub is born: “You can lose a lot of body fat through breastfeeding.”
But ultimately, once baby comes along, there are more important things to be thinking about, and you should be in no rush to return to your pre-baby figure. You've just grown a human being inside you! Give yourself a break.
You’re confused about conflicting advice
There is so much advice aimed at pregnant women, especially regarding what they should be eating and drinking and the types of exercise you shouldn’t be doing, that sometimes it gets plain confusing. When it comes to exercise, it is advisable to avoid high-impact sports, such as netball or running - instead head out for a walk, join a pre-natal yoga or pilates class, or start swimming instead.
This article was written by Joanna Bounds for Kidspot, New Zealand’s best pregnancy, labour and birth resource.