The time between taking that home pregnancy test and bringing your little pink or blue bundle home safe and sound from the hospital is filled with all kinds of emotions. If it is a first pregnancy experience, you may be concerned about the gamut of emotions that will be felt and changes that will be happening in life. The first thing to remember is that your feelings and fears are completely normal but there are some ways to keep pregnancy stress at a manageable level.
Know What to Expect
The next eight to nine months will be the most exciting, and also possibly the most frightening months you have experienced to date. The more the mom-to-be knows about what may be coming up, the more ready she will be to handle it if it does happen. Why did I say “eight to nine” months? That is one of the first things to take into consideration. Babies can decide to be born a few weeks early. Be prepared for the possibility and you will remove a great deal of stress if an early birth is in your future.
Have your suitcase packed for the hospital about a month early. Babies can be born a week early, or two weeks, or even more. Know what to expect if there is a premature birth in your future but also remember that many very healthy preemie babies are born every day. If premature labor begins, the doctor will decide whether to stop the labor or allow the labor to continue at that point.
The First Few Weeks
When you first find out about the pregnancy, you most likely will not be worrying about stress. Life will surround all the excitement of finding out the news. Instead of stress, the soon to be mommy will be thinking about things like her first doctor’s appointment and prenatal vitamins.
The biggest stress in the beginning may be how to tell your family and friends. How will the baby’s father be told? Which space will be turned into the nursery? We suddenly start buying parenting magazines and smiling at other moms-to-be in the workplace or the grocery store. We start a list of names divided into two columns marked “boy” and “girl.”
Yes, in those first weeks and months of pregnancy, the biggest stress we face may be what neutral color to paint the nursery walls or when to start the maternity leave.
Uh Oh! And Then it Hits!
Somewhere in the whirlwind of names and nurseries, announcements and vitamins, a fact will suddenly hit like a ton of the proverbial bricks. Very soon there will be a little person who will be relying on you for absolutely everything in life for many years to come!
That realization is often the first stress of a pregnancy. There will be worries about finances and worries about safety. Today’s new parents have a whole new and different list of fears about safety than parents in the past had to face.
Worries about the health and development of the baby will come to mind often. Be sure to make (and keep!) your pregnancy appointments with the doctor. This will help with the stress levels, especially if mommy-to-be is a worrier. The doctor will be able to make assurances that everything is progressing the way it should be progressing.
Something Important to Remember
Take this to heart but be wise about it. Every pregnancy is not the same! People will delight in telling stories about their own pregnancy. This is fine and good and fun to hear the stories, but it may not be the same for us. It is a great amount of stress when well-meaning Cousin Kate says something like “you’re five months pregnant?! I was showing a lot more by then, is your baby okay?!”
Obviously that could be a huge problem in triggering pregnancy stress. People will tell entertaining stories but they will also tell horror stories. Take them with a grain of salt but use your own common sense and the advice of your doctor and save yourself some pregnancy stress.
In today’s Internet age, it is very easy to research anything we want to find out about, but we need to keep in mind that everything we read is not necessarily valid. We simply do not all have the same kinds of pregnancy. If something seems wrong simply call the doctor. He or she will either answer your questions right then or request an office visit. Either option goes a long way in relieving stress.
Other Ways to Alleviate Stress
In addition to being prepared for things that may come up, try signing up for a pregnancy class. Hospitals often offer these. You will be able to spend some time with other parents-to-be and it’s always fun to exchange stories.
If there isn’t a local group or you aren’t really a “social animal,” check around online for forums or mail groups for pregnancy topics. Having others to talk with is always a good idea especially for first pregnancy. Many of the people you meet in such venues will have already had other children and can be a great source of comfort when the anxiety sets in. Just remember to be wise in matters like this when it comes to protecting your personal information. There is no need for people you are chatting with or exchanging mail with to know personal details. This is no different from other online experiences and requires caution.
A List of Other Possible Fears
Will the baby be born healthy?
Is this pain/swelling/heartburn, etc. normal?
What if I gain too much weight?
How will I lose the extra pregnancy weight?
What if I’m simply a lousy parent?
How will we afford to raise a child?
How will I stand the pain of the actual birth?
What if our marriage/partnership fails?
Am I doing the right things to stay healthy?
Rest assured that all of these worries are perfectly normal and other new moms are asking the same questions. Some of the pregnancy stress will be relieved by researching or talking to a friend who has already given birth. Some of it will be relieved after seeing the doctor and asking questions.
Everything will be fine. You will know what to do when it’s time to do it. There is always stress when we begin new adventures and becoming a parent for the first time will most likely be the most splendid adventure you’ll ever experience!