Facing Pregnancy Fear

January 20, 2010

I'd Worry If I Didn't Worry: Getting Pregnant

Worry is almost inherent in women. It often shows up in technicolor during a woman's first pregnancy. First, she worries that she may not be able to conceive. Then, after she conceives, she frets about the pain and discomfort she's feeling. As time goes on, fear that something will happen and she'll lose the pregnancy, or the baby will not be okay will gnaw away at her peace and rob her of any joy she may have been able to experience.

Dr. Sheila Bittle, a nurse/psychotherapist who practices in Salt Lake City, Utah, says that worrying can have a healthy side to it. "It leads us to pay attention to our body and conceive and ask questions."

The Fear Of Miscarriage

Because a first-time mother is facing an entirely new experience and a total unknown, anxiety can almost overtake her. Women who suffer with health issues or have taken a long time to get pregnant may find themselves consumed with worry about miscarriage. Diabetes or high blood pressure may make the pregnancy challenging and anxiety can increase.

Most miscarriages are caused by genetic defects in the egg or sperm, or failure of the egg to implant in the uterus properly. These are things that cannot be altered by anything the woman can do. Staying away from alcohol and not smoking are things that will improve a baby's chances and are within the power of the woman to control. "A little spotting often occurs around the 6th week of pregnancy," says Dr. Bittle. "It's normal, but many women are terrified that they're miscarrying." After the first trimester, miscarriage risk drops significantly."

If a woman has lost a pregnancy previously she may obsess over the next pregnancy. The fear that it might happen again, the memories of the past pain and the inability to let go of disturbing thoughts can contribute greatly to a sense of anxiety and worry.

Learning How To Cope With Pregnancy Fear

Learning ways to cope with worry and fear are important tools for a woman to master during pregnancy. Some good methods to employ include discussing the fears with her partner, a friend or family member. Sometimes just letting it out  helps to get things into perspective. Telling the health care provider about any concerns and anxiety can be helpful. Their expertise as a medical professional can provide calming information to dispel fear. Education is a grand thing. The better informed a woman is, the less likely she is to fear what she is experiencing. Using the internet or good books to check out the things that are causing worry is a good way to become educated and to ease concerns.

When Professional Help Is Warranted for Depression

Sometimes a significant person in a woman's life can alert her to the fact that she may be obsessing about her pregnancy and exaggerating her fears. Some signs that fear has gotten out of hand include changes in eating and sleeping habits and feelings of depression or unhappiness. The inability to get up from bed is another sign that worry may have gotten the better of her. If a woman is experiencing these sorts of things, a visit to the doctor is warranted.

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