How to deal with pregnancy-related fears?
December 28, 2011 2:48 PM Subscribe
How to deal with pregnancy anxiety?
posted by semacd to health & fitness (28 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I've written this post several times over the past 8 months and always deleted it, but I really could use your collective wisdom, askme. So I will unleash the crazy. (Though the background may be largely irrelevant, and I do hope this question is helpful to others in the future.)
I'm expecting my first child in about a month. From almost the beginning I have had a lot of anxiety about the baby's health. I've tried really hard to "not worry about things until they happen" - i.e. tell myself I will deal with a problem if/when it presents itself. And that has helped me manage anxiety to some extent. But I'm still pretty consumed at times by anxiety. At first I was worried there wasn't going to be a heartbeat. Then I worried about a bad NT scan result. Then I worried a lot about Downs and other chromosomal abnormalities in the days/weeks leading up to the anatomy ultrasound. (Still worried about those problems, though the test results were excellent.) Then from about 20 weeks until now I've been very worried about the negative health effects of premature birth. Lots of other random worries thrown in at times (autism, birth defects, unknown problems because I had a big night of drinking with out of town friends at week 3 before I knew I was pregnant). I just found out what causes cerebral palsy and now I'm worried the baby has been having seizures in the womb (s/he felt like s/he was making strange movements once) and about harm to him/her during birth. The fact that I wasn't worried about cerebral palsy before also worries me, because I wonder what other horrible illnesses are out there that I don't even know enough to worry about.
In low moments I say to myself, "why us? Why should we get a healthy baby?"
Despite a superstition not to set up the nursery until the baby is born, I set up the nursery this weekend because I was getting stressed about dealing with all that after the birth. So now I'm stressing about how I set up this welcoming nursery and there may be no baby in it, or there may be a very sick baby in it.
I've expressed some of these concerns to my OB (i.e. alcohol at 3 weeks) and she has told me not to worry about them because there's nothing I can do about them now (not don't worry about them because there won't be a problem).
I've had a few friends/relatives who have had terrible results (baby born with severe chromosomal abnormalities not detected in any prenatal testing; baby with bad birth defect; still birth baby) and so when I try to reassure myself that our baby will be fine, I have trouble reconciling that with their experiences. My husband can be very comforting, but he is also nervous, and I don't want to overwhelm him with my worries.
Not that it really matters, but I've witnessed births before (in a developing country) and did not find it to be a beautiful experience (these were challenging births).
I'm also worried about my own health as we approach labor & delivery (tearing, hemorrage, pain).
I know that the internets are toxic when it comes to pregnancy and that I need to stop reading about Bad Things That Can Happen to Babies.
So my questions:
(1) Does this level of anxiety sound 'normal' based on your experience with pregnancy or am I - a worrier by nature - out in left field?
(2) If you had pregnancy-related anxiety, did you find any coping mechanisms helpful?
(3) I doubt there's an answer for this - but does anyone have any stats on "healthy babies" in this day and age in America?
I realize that I am in for a lifetime of worrying about this child. :) I will cross that bridge when I come to it.