Top Pregnancy Fears (and How to Manage Them)

Pregnancy: it’s a special, wonderful time, but it can also come with anxiety and fear. In this blog post, we’ll highlight some of the fears you might be having and discuss the best way to manage them.

Miscarriage is an extremely common fear in early pregnancy and could be heightened if you have previous personal experience with pregnancy loss. It’s also a tough fear to have because there isn’t much that you can do to keep it from happening. On the flipside, concentrating on the fact that whether you have a miscarriage or not is largely out of your control could help you move through your pregnancy without ceding too much ground to this particular worry.

Anticipating labor, especially the pain that’s likely to come with it, can cause a lot of anxiety for parents-to-be. While it’s true that labor will probably not be a walk in the park, plenty of people get through it successfully every day. To help stave off this fear, choose care providers you trust and educate yourself about what to expect in multiple scenarios—not just your ideal one. Plan for the ways you’ll cope with varying levels of discomfort and pain and talk to your partner and support team about what you want for your birth. Even with preparation, labor probably won’t be exactly how you expect it to be, but there’s nothing wrong with keeping your brain occupied with plans instead of worries.

There’s no doubt that the baby will change your life, but the inherent unknowns of bringing a new person into the world can carry a lot of fear. Maybe you worry about how this new person will change the dynamic between you and your partner or spouse. Maybe your concerns are focused on how your other children or extended family will react. Perhaps thoughts of differences a baby will make to your career or friendships are first on your mind. No matter what type of changes you fear, it might be helpful to imagine them at their most extreme. If your new baby drives a wedge between you and your partner or you and your older child, how would you cope? If you’re not able to keep up at work after baby arrives and your parental leave has come to an end, what are your options? Thinking through hypotheticals can sometimes make anxiety worse, but often strategizing a plan for the worst case scenario may help you see that even really tough problems aren’t insurmountable.

Baby’s health is often foremost on the minds of pregnant folks, and, like the possibility of miscarriage, it’s also mostly out of your control. If you take care of yourself and follow the schedule of prenatal care recommended by your doctor or midwife during pregnancy, that’s the best you can do. Some people opt in to prenatal screening and testing because having more information helps calm their worries, while others prefer to trust their bodies and their babies and that everything will work out. Whatever you decide and however you feel about your baby’s health, both during pregnancy and after baby is born, is okay.

Being a good parent is something we all hope and strive for—and yes, worry about. This fear is even more likely to present itself if you wish you’d been parented differently growing up. The good news is, being a good parent is something you can make concrete steps toward, even starting during pregnancy. The work that you do to take care of yourself, including your mental health, will help make you better equipped to be a sensitive, nurturing parent to your baby. If there are things you want to work on, so that you are better prepared to guide a new person through the world, now is the time.

Whether we’ve discussed your specific fear here or not, it’s important to remember that fear can feel overwhelming. Sometimes, our brains get so wrapped up in thinking scary things that we lose track of reality. If you feel as though your fears are getting out of control, here are some things you can try:

  • Mindfulness, whether you’re sitting down for an actual meditation or just mindfully taking a deep breath every time you walk through a doorway, can help increase self-compassion and decrease anxiety.
  • Exercise is a great option to improve your perspective. The recommendations in this blog post are a good place to start.
  • Therapy is another great option if your worries feel out of control. A professional talk therapist can offer coping mechanisms and help you get to the root of where your fears come from, which may help them feel less scary.
  • Medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can help decrease anxiety and fear. There are several options that are very safe in pregnancy and during breastfeeding.
Abby Olena
Dr. Abby Olena has a PhD in Biological Sciences from Vanderbilt University. She lives with her husband and children in North Carolina, where she writes about science and parenting, produces a conversational podcast, and teaches prenatal yoga.

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