Is Worrying Part of Motherhood?

Control what you can, let go of what you can't and try not to hang on to fear.

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Telling a mother not to worry is silly. It's in our nature. It's what we do. That said, that's exactly what I'm going to say this week. Quit worrying, my dears. It's not good for you.

I've received so many emails lately from worried mamas with straight up valid reasons to be concerned ranging from bacterial vaginosis, to spotting, grumpy husbands, and new kittens. One is having trouble conceiving a baby and wonders if Bacterial Vaginosis is to blame. Another saw a few spots of blood in her panties, and another has a husband who's just not into pregnancy. Last but not least, one just found out she's pregnant, has two kittens she's madly in love with and is terrified of toxoplasmosis in their litter box. What should they do? They should all stop worrying.

I'm not trying to dismiss their concerns. I'm right in there with the best of the worriers, but I'm learning to change my ways. When I was pregnant with my first baby I pestered the heck out of my doctor with some-valid/some not-so-valid worries. I called my doctor late on a Saturday evening when I heard my dishware was being recalled because it might be contaminated with lead. I was totally freaked that by eating off those plates my baby would be brain damaged. Turns out the plates, a blood test and my daughter were all fine. Another time, I freaked out because a woman on the news claimed she'd contracted HIV through her Rhogam shot. I'd just had my first Rhogam shot and was pretty darn worried. It was the 80s, Rhogam is a blood product and screening protocols were still new.

The list of things that freak us out when we're carrying our babies is long and evolving and doesn't stop even after the kids leave home. There's a lot at stake, pregnancy is a huge responsibility and we live in stressful times. I get it. And still...quit worrying.

Here's what worry will do for you – zilch, nada, nothing. Somebody once said, "Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere." I'd argue that it does take you someplace, but nowhere you want to go. Many scientists, physicians and health experts have proven that worry, stress, fear and pervasive negative thoughts can actually contribute to poor health outcomes. Patience, education and action on the other hand can take you to a place of health and wellbeing.

Here's what I want you to do when you find yourself worrying.

Ask yourself: Do I have any control over this situation?

If the answer is "yes," take action and do what you can to change the situation.

If the answer is "no," accept it and move on.

Control what you can, let go of what you can't and try not to hang on to fear.

Need an example? How about early trimester spotting? Can you change that? Probably not. In most cases, there are no specific actions you can take. Are you miscarrying? Maybe, but probably not. Spotting is common. Call your midwife or doctor then, focus on a positive outcome. Will that guarantee your pregnancy is safe? Nope, but it's a better course of action than focusing on a negative outcome.

Here's another example: You've been diagnosed with BV, have been trying to conceive for a while and aren't pregnant yet. Can you change that? Yes! Take your antibiotics, time your ovulation, have sex and wait and see. If you've been trying more than a year – see a fertility specialist (6 months if your over 35). Will worrying help you get pregnant? Nope and in fact, high stress levels are linked to infertility.

How about that kitten problem? That one's easy. Ask your doctor for a toxoplasmosis test and get your partner to change the litter box.

What else can you do to stop worrying? Read, learn, exercise, meditate, talk to a friend, go to work, cook dinner, stay active, get some rest and for heaven's sake, go play with those kittens. Then, take your newfound chill attitude with you as you start parenting because I tell you what...kids will make you worry big time.

Keep Reading: The Truth About Your Top 10 Pregnancy Worries

Jeanne Faulkner, R.N., lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and five children. Got a question for Jeanne? E-mail it to jeanne@jeannefaulkner.com.

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.

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