Worry makes unpleasant things a whole lot worse. Our imaginations are hardwired to consider the worst-case scenario. It’s an outmoded survival mechanism rooted in the days when we had to outrun mastodons. While there’s value in thinking through difficult situations to their most likely conclusions, and there are benefits to strategizing and brainstorming solutions and plans, worry just tosses bombs into our plans. Having cramps and your due date’s still two months off? Worry will make you imagine that instead of having a few cramps, you’re having a preterm-delivery, a baby in the neontal intensive care unit, or one of an entire laundry list of problems that probably won’t actually happen. In your worried mind, those cramps are a disaster. In your body, you’re probably not in trouble at all.
The alternative: Instead of worrying, try resting, drinking more water, calling your midwife, or simply chilling out. If cramps turn into contractions that continue, well then, there are plenty of steps you and your physician can take to keep your baby from being born too soon. Worrying isn’t one of those steps.
The odds are always in your favor. Maybe your doctor tells you you’re at increased risk for developing a condition, like say, high blood pressure late in pregnancy because you’re an “older mom.” While it’s true that studies indicate a certain percentage of older mothers do develop hypertension, a much, much larger percentage of older moms don’t. Those moms (the majority of moms) remain healthy throughout their pregnancies.
The alternative: Instead of worrying about your increased risks (which is a stressful thing to do and may actually drive your blood pressure up), invest in your wellness by taking excellent care of yourself.
I’m a firm believer that where our mind goes, our lives go. In other words, what we think about happens. If you worry about worst-case scenarios, I think you’re increasing your chances that those scenarios might come true to some extent. If there’s really something wrong, it will make itself known without your active participation. If there isn’t, worrying might buy you extra tests and medical scrutiny you really don’t need.
What do the experts say?
There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.
Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.
Let our advance worrying become advanced thinking and planning.
Don’t worry. Be happy.
Jeanne Faulkner, R.N., lives in Portland, Ore., with her husband and children. She is co-author of The Complete Illustrated Birthing Companion: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating the Best Birthing Plan for a Safe, Less Painful, and Successful Delivery for You and Your Baby.
Got a question for Jeanne? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and it may be answered in a future blog post.
This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical advice from your primary caregiver.