Brave New World
The 20 biggest scares and surprises about having a baby
3. It’ll Hurt the Baby
“Many women worry that they’ll ‘hurt’ the baby by being active or having sex,” Gise says. The reality is comforting, however: It’s generally safe to do most of the activities you did before pregnancy, from tennis to cycling (just don’t water-ski or take up windsurfing in your fourth month, and you should put off risky sports like downhill skiing and horseback riding). You also can have sex right up to the due date as long as you aren’t experiencing any complications (no, it won’t trigger labor).
4. Having a C–Section
We’ve all heard the stories: 48 hours of labor, followed by a Cesarean section and a mother depressed because she didn’t have a “regular” birth. “It doesn’t mean you flunked childbirth if you have to have a Cesarean section,” Gise says. “It really is safer when something goes wrong — it saves a lot of babies when you need to get them out fast.”
5. Something Will Be Wrong With the Baby
Nature is on your side here: The vast majority of babies are healthy. In fact, only about three in 100 will be born with any sort of birth defect, Gise says. And many of the babies who are born with problems can be helped with surgery, medical therapy or simple TLC.
6. Losing Control
One of the scariest things about pregnancy is the specter of losing control — that in the throes of labor and delivery you’ll scream, curse or barf all over the doctor. And you just might. “Lots of us poop, throw up or scream for drugs,” Iovine says. “Nobody’s grading you.”
7. Taking the Wrong Stuff
This is a biggie. My asthma demanded that I use inhalers during my pregnancies, which caused me needless worry; other women blithely smoke, drink or take cold medicine before they realize they’re pregnant, and then they panic. “Remember that the most serious cause of birth defects is definitely not moms taking medicines, or smoking or drinking — the cause is unknown,” Gise says. “Moms tend to worry too much.” But, she advises, discontinue any medication you can live without once you know you’re pregnant or once you begin trying. And, of course, don’t smoke or drink. Consult with your doctor about which medications you should and shouldn’t take while pregnant.
8. Being a Bad Mother
Here’s how I comforted myself when I was struck with this fear: I got out an old picture of myself at 11 months, beaming from within my dreary, toy-free playpen, where I’m pretty sure I was left for hours on end. Despite having had six kids in seven years, my mother somehow gave us a happy childhood and plenty of love. And in turn, my kids are happy and loving — despite my failings. “Don’t think you have to be perfect,” Iovine says. “Babies respond to day-in, day-out care and love.”