Calm, Cool & Collected
Being pregnant and giving birth should be joyous experiences, not anxiety-wracked ones. HereÂs the knowledge you need to keep common fears from spiraling out of control.
From the moment we learn we’re pregnant until, well, until forever, we worry about our children. In fact, we even worry retroactively, about those martinis we downed before we knew we were pregnant or the dental X-rays we didn’t think twice about at the time. “I sabotaged my entire pregnancy with fears,” says Susan Sawyer, the Clovis, Calif., mother of 2-year-old Nolan. “Then, once my baby was born, I realized how much safer he was in the womb!”
“Rest assured that your body knows what to do even if you think you don’t have a clue,” says Stuart Fischbein, M.D., an OB-GYN in Los Angeles and co-author of Fearless Pregnancy (Fair Winds Press, 2004). Since a little preparation can go a long way toward helping us feel more secure, we’ve gathered the facts to help you conquer your fears about pregnancy and giving birth. And because having a baby kicks off a whole different set of anxieties, see “Fearless First Year” on pg. 117 to help put your post-delivery worries into perspective so you can relax and enjoy your new role.
the fear} I partied before I knew I was pregnant and am worried I may have hurt my baby.
the facts} Even if you smoked, drank, took drugs, had X-rays and were exposed to chemicals before your first missed period, experts agree there’s very little damage you can do at this early stage. It takes about seven days for the fertilized egg to travel through your fallopian tube and implant in your uterus. The placenta, which allows the exchange of blood between mother and baby, begins to develop at about 12 days after conception. “Very few things done before then will result in an abnormal newborn,” says Michael S. Broder, M.D., assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and author of The Panic-Free Pregnancy (Perigee Trade, 2004).
solutions} Clean up your act as soon as you learn the good news. “The important things are simple,” Broder says. “Quit smoking and drinking, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and get enough sleep.”
the fear} I’ll have a miscarriage.
the facts} While it’s true that more than half of pregnancies detected very early on end in miscarriage, your risk drops to less than 10 percent after six weeks and stays there through 20 weeks (after that, it’s called a stillbirth). Most miscarriages are the result of genetic abnormalities with the developing embryo, not something you did, such as working out hard or having sex. And don’t assume the worst if you spot, or have light vaginal bleeding, in the first trimester—about one in three pregnant women experience this, with no ill effect.