9 common pregnancy fears: When to worry

You aren’t alone if you feel paranoid now that you’re pregnant, but your biggest fears may be groundless…

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage. But wait, between marriage and baby, there’s also pregnancy.

Ahh pregnancy…nine long months of growing a human being inside of you, trying to eat right, handling crazy bodily changes and planning non-stop for the day you pop.

Whether it’s your first or fourth, pregnancy is always an exciting time for everyone involved. But for the mum-to-be, it can also be one fraught with worries and sleepless nights.

It’s normal to worry throughout your pregnancy, especially if you’re expecting your first child. Since you are entering unchartered waters, everything is nail-bitingly new and unpredictable. And sometimes, things just don’t go according to plan.

If being preggers is scaring the bejesus out of you, read on to find out exactly when you should worry and when you can chillax.

Fear #1: Having a miscarriage

What you’re afraid of…You’ll lose your foetus during the vulnerable first trimester, since 20 per cent of all pregnancies do end in a miscarriage. This fear gets even more real and all-consuming if you’ve had a previous miscarriage or multiple miscarriages. Every little ache or light bleeding might send you rushing to your gynae because you’re imagining the worst.

Why you shouldn’t worry… If a miscarriage is going to take place, it often does so in the very early stages of your pregnancy ― usually in the first four or five weeks when you wouldn’t have even known that you were pregnant. After a heartbeat is detected, at between 6 and 8 weeks, your chances of losing your pregnancy drops to 5 per cent. If a miscarriage does happen, it usually means the pregnancy wasn’t healthy to start with and it was for the best for both mum and foetus.

If it does happen…The good news is that right after a miscarriage, you are more fertile and your chances of having a second one is pretty low. To lower your risk of a miscarriage, eat well and limit your caffeine intake to 200mg a day (two cups of coffee). You can also do a pre-conception test at your gynae’s office, which will detect if you have any health conditions that might have caused you to miscarry. 

Fear #2: Squashing or hurting the foetus

What you’re afraid of…You might suffocate baby if you sleep on your belly or that the hubs might “poke” bub during sex.

Why you shouldn’t worry… Baby is very well protected, thanks to the amniotic sac and the strong muscles of the uterus. So, it’s close to impossible that it will feel squashed or get accidentally bumped. If you and your man having been avoiding getting jiggy with it for fear of hurting your little one, don’t wait any longer! During intercourse, the penis doesn’t go beyond the vagina, so there’s no way it will reach baby. Also, the thick mucus plug sealing the cervix will help protect it from infection.

If it does happen… Your doctor might discourage sex if you’re experiencing vaginal bleeding, your placenta is partly or completely covering your cervix, or if you’re at risk of preterm labour. These issues will usually resolve with time and plenty of rest.

Your foetus has a knack for absorbing nutrition from whatever food you “feed” him. So, even if all you’re living on is biscuits and Milo, bubba will be fine.

Fear #3: Baby will be affected by your morning sickness

What you’re afraid of… All that vomiting is going to leave your foetus dehydrated and majorly malnourished. Also, while you’re plagued with round-the-clock nausea, the last thing you want to eat is anything healthy. So, out with the yoghurt and fruit and bring on the prata and fish curry. But is that any good for baby? Shouldn’t you be eating only the healthiest and freshest of food ― for his sake? 

Why you shouldn’t worry… Your foetus has a knack for absorbing nutrition from whatever food you “feed” him. So, even if all you’re living on is biscuits and Milo, bubba will be fine. Just remember to take your prenatal vitamins to offset any nutritional imbalances and eat small meals throughout the day to keep your energy levels up. Eating often also helps to stave off nausea.

If it does happen… The only time you have to worry that your morning sickness might affect your growing child’s health is if you’re puking nonstop and unable to keep any food down, including water. You probably have a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, in which case, you’ll need to seek medical help immediately.

Fear #4: Changes to the face and body  

What you’re afraid of… Your expanding nose and feet and water retention makes you look like the Michelin man. Gasp, what if these changes are here to stay?

Why you shouldn’t worry… A swollen nose and feet are caused by an increase in oestrogen levels. This pregnancy hormone helps blood flow to the mucous membranes (a thick protective layer over the inner organs) and plumps up your nose as a result. Feet usually swell and flatten as a result of water retention while the relaxin hormone also loosens joints and ligaments in preparation for childbirth. The good news is that everything shrinks back to its original size post-partum, and even if they don’t, the difference is minimal.

If it does happen… The influx of pregnancy hormones can cause your skin to be more sensitive and give rise to severe stretch marks, warts or skin tags (tiny growths that crop up in high-friction areas such as the neck, armpit and between your thighs). Also beware of chloasma ― dark patches on your face also known as the “mask of pregnancy”. This is a sign that your skin may be more sensitive than usual to sunlight, so you’ll need to take extra care. If you develop a serious or persistent skin problem even after delivery, see a dermatologist.

Fear #5: Eating or drinking something that might harm baby

What you’re afraid of…Accidentally consuming one of the many things your doctor told you to stay away from because it might harm your unborn child. What about that big bottle of wine you swigged a few days before you found out you were preggers.  

Why you shouldn’t worry… Since there’s a laundry list of food items you’re supposed to stay away from when you’re pregnant, it’s easy to obsess over every ingredient that you put into your mouth. Aside from major “no nos” such as raw meats, soft cheeses, deli meats, alcohol and seafood, it’s fine to eat everything else is moderation. Some doctors even allow an occasional glass of wine, as well as fresh sushi and sashimi in the third trimester. Keep a balanced diet and when in doubt, don’t eat it. You have the rest of your life to enjoy it after baby is born.

If it does happen… Not all instances of food poisoning will harm bub unless it involves Listeria, a bacteria found in uncooked foods and unpasteurised cheeses. It’s been known to cause miscarriage, premature delivery or an infection in your baby. It’s wise to get checked the minute you are unwell. Also, keep yourself well hydrated as you want to flush all the toxins out of your body.

To worry or not to worry.... Four more pregnancy fears coming right up!