I often get emails from pregnant women, their partners or family members asking some variation of this question: “Do I need to worry about this?” Sometimes “this” is first trimester discharge, or low abdominal cramping, or second trimester spotting. Or maybe it’s a backache, a breech baby, or being past a due date. Sometimes it’s an issue more daunting, like a weird result on a prenatal screening or an ultrasound that indicates an anomaly. Sometimes it has to do with relationships—such as a toddler who’s not happy about the new baby, or a mother-in-law who is not pro-breastfeeding.
Whatever the issue is, the answer to the question “Do I need to worry about this?” is the same: No, you do not NEED to worry. You probably WILL worry, but worry is almost never necessary or helpful--and in some cases, it can even be harmful. Worry is what our brain does when it can’t come up with a rock-solid solution for solving a problem. It’s how we take a small situation, add fear, and turn it into a big freakin’ deal. It’s stressful, crazy-making and can actually boost hormone levels associated with inflammation, cardiac disease and pain.
Why You Don’t NEED to Worry:
No matter what is happening, you probably have no real control over it and worrying won’t change anything. Will worry stop your first trimester spotting, or change your test results? No it will not. It will, however, dial up the fear factor and make you more frightened than the situation warrants.
The alternative: In pregnancy as with parenting, a better approach to dealing with something you’re unsure about is to learn, talk, plan, accept and let it go