The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Every newly pregnant woman embarks on an adventure as boldly as astronaut Sally Ride and as full of expectations as Christopher Columbus. Even if you’ve been pregnant before, each voyage is fraught with new fears and blessed with new surprises. To ease these fears and help prepare you for the reality that awaits, we talked to straight shooter Vicki Iovine, mother of four and author of two wise, honest and hilarious books, The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy (Pocket Books, 1995) and The Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood (Perigee Books, 1997). We also sought the advice of Leslie Hartley Gise, M.D., a psychiatrist who has counseled mothers through pregnancy and childbirth in her 16 years at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and in her present role as a psychiatrist with the Hawaii State Department of Health.
We also talked to a few regular moms (this author included) who have been through it. We’ll allay your biggest fears and help you prepare for the happiest moments of pregnancy, childbirth and new parenthood.
10 Biggest Fears
1. It’ll Hurt!
“The biggest fear is that the pain will be so great that you’ll collapse and break into a thousand pieces,” Iovine says. “We’re frightened we won’t be able to have natural childbirth, as well. If you plan on and succeed in natural childbirth, great; if you need an epidural or C-section, great.” The skills taught by childbirth educators are invaluable, but Iovine warns against letting natural-childbirth proponents take you on a guilt trip. In many cases, the pain isn’t nearly as bad as you might have feared (some compare it to really bad menstrual cramps), but relief is attainable if it gets intense. “Anesthesia is available to help you cope,” Gise says, “and you’re not a bad person if you decide to use it.”
2. Losing My Lover
Many women fear that their husbands forever will see them as chubby, milk-stained moms, rather than exciting lovers. “Most of us think, ‘Why would he want to have sex with me when I wouldn’t want to have sex with me?’” Iovine says. As it turns out, Iovine’s back-fence research among friends revealed that the problem typically isn’t with our mates’ minds but with our own. You nevertheless may not be overcome with desire the minute your doctor gives you the six-week go-ahead to have sex, according to Iovine. “Don’t rush the recovery,” she says. “The desire will come back eventually, within the first year, as will your old body.” And try to remember that your husband probably desires you as much as ever.