Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it also comes with many physical, emotional and lifestyle changes that create many, MANY opportunities for moms-to-be to worry. Fears, both rational and irrational, are very common and it is easy to become overwhelmed and stressed.
After all, you are growing a tiny human that is going to completely change your life!
In most cases, a little everyday stress will not cause any harm to you or your unborn baby. However, serious or prolonged stress can put you at a higher risk of certain problems, including having a premature birth or a low-birthweight baby.
The good news is that it is possible to cope with and manage stress during your pregnancy. It helps to remember that you are not alone—many expectant moms out there share the same worries, fears and anxieties.
However, if you are under such severe stress that you are having trouble eating or sleeping, feel anxious or hopeless all the time, or have other worrisome side effects, you should talk to a healthcare provider.
Although every expectant mom has different sources of stress depending on her individual circumstances, we’ve compiled a list of 10 common causes:
1. Concern About Your Parenting Abilities.
When you become pregnant, especially for the first time, impending motherhood can hit you like a ton of bricks. Because this is uncharted territory, it is completely normal to worry about whether you will be a good mother and whether you will know how to take care of your baby.
Although this fear is most common in first-time mothers, veteran moms might worry about whether they will be able to handle another child or how they will be able to meet all their children’s needs.
To help you cope, you should try to learn as much as you can about childcare and parenting in advance of your baby being born.
When you get tired of textbook advice from parenting classes and books, call your favorite friend or relative who has a horde of kids and offer to buy her a coffee in exchange for straight-out-of-the-trenches parenting tips. Or better yet, hang out with some kids to soak up some hands-on experience.
2. Worries About Your Older Children.
When a new baby comes on the scene, it affects everyone in the household—including older siblings-to-be. Expectant moms often have concerns about how their older children will react to the baby, sibling rivalry and how long it will take them to adjust.
Your children could experience a range of reactions depending on their ages and developmental stages. It is very common for children to regress, so your five-year-old might start throwing tantrums or your fully potty-trained four-year-old might begin wetting the bed.
The most important thing that you can do for your older children—regardless of their ages—is provide reassurance that you will continue to meet their needs and love them, no matter what.
By giving your older children lots of attention, answering any questions they may have about the baby (in an age-appropriate way, of course), and providing verbal and physical reassurance (by saying “I love you” and giving lots of hugs and kisses!), you will calm yourself and help them to feel calm, too.
3. Concern About Your Baby’s Health.
From fears of miscarriage early in your pregnancy to worries about physical development, it is normal to feel some anxiety about the health of your baby.
Although it is a good idea to learn about the symptoms associated with serious conditions, this can be a slippery slope. With all of the information out there (some true, some not), it can be very easy to become overwhelmed—which can lead to more stress and anxiety.
Going to all your scheduled prenatal visits is the first step toward feeling reassured that your baby is healthy. Try to avoid reading too many “what can go wrong” stories and articles, use common sense and follow your doctor’s advice.
Many moms find that purchasing a home fetal Doppler, such as the Fetal Heart Monitor by 1790, allows them to “check in” with their baby more often and gives them peace of mind. And, if you still have concerns, talk to your doctor.
4. Physical Discomfort.
For most women, pregnancy is uncomfortable. And being nauseous, swollen, hot and tired all the time is enough to make anyone stressed out, especially when you have to work, manage your household or take care of other children.
Although some women experience certain symptoms for the entire nine months, most symptoms come and go in a matter of weeks. Getting adequate rest is critical to keeping your strength up and your stress levels down. Comfort measures, including the Total Body Pillow by Snoogle, will make getting a good night’s sleep easier.
And, when the physical discomforts really start to bother you, try to remember that they will probably pass relatively quickly—and will almost certainly disappear after your baby is born.
5. Financial Concerns.
Babies are expensive, and figuring out how you are going to pay for everything from a crib to college can send most moms-to-be into a financial frenzy. Although you may receive a number of big-ticket baby gear items at your shower, you will still need to pay for things like childcare, formula, diapers, etc.
The best anecdote to this source of stress is a sound financial plan. Figure out how much things cost and make a plan to save for them or incorporate them into your monthly budget. If you will be taking unpaid maternity leave, make sure you have sufficient funds to cover your expenses during that time. Making a plan in advance will give you some control and eliminate stress after your little one arrives.
If you have no idea on how to calculate the costs and preparing financially to the arrival of the new family member, we recommend reading the book Preparing for Baby from Nihara K. Choudhri. It’s consider to be the legal and financial version of ‘What to Expect While You’re Expecting‘.
6. Fear of Giving Birth.
One of the most stressful things about pregnancy is worrying about labor and delivery. You really don’t know when or how it is going to happen, and your best-laid plans might end up going out the window as soon as your contractions start. Horror stories are plentiful. And, because every birth experience is different, even veteran moms have to cope with the element of surprise.
Preparing a birth plan well in advance of your due date will help you and your partner clarify your wishes for childbirth. However, the best advice is to expect the unexpected. Your doctor has the best interest of you and your baby in mind, so remember to stay flexible in case everything doesn’t go according to plan.
In order to help you preparing for this beautiful (but scary) moment, we recommend this amazing book from Carl Jones called Mind over Labor.
Carl Jones is a Certified Chilbirth Educator, and in this book he explains his easy-to-follow, eight-step method, which teaches your mind to cooperate with your body, will help make your childbirth less stressful and more natural.
7. Weight Gain.
Pregnancy changes your body in many important ways to prepare you for giving birth and all that comes afterward. However, it’s hard not to be stressed out when you look at your favorite skinny jeans and wonder if you will ever be able to fit into them again.
Couple that with the onslaught of pregnant celebs who are back to their skinny selves weeks after giving birth, and you have a recipe for anxiety.
Do your best to stay within your doctor’s recommended weight gain guidelines, eat healthy, get plenty of rest and try to get some exercise now and then (if your doctor says it’s safe).
We recommend using this Balance High Accuracy Bathroom Scale for making sure you are under your doctor’s weight gain guidelines. It is very accurate and capable of calibrating automatically, comes with a digital getting started guide and video. The company also donate a part of the gains with the sales of this scale to Love146, an organization determined to end child trafficking.
And remember, those skinny postpartum celebs have an army of personal trainers, chefs, nannies and housekeepers at their disposal—so try to cut yourself some slack after the baby is born.
8. Changes in Your Relationship.
Many expectant moms worry about how a baby will change their relationship with their partner and affect their ability and desire to be intimate. Although it’s true that your relationship will change, it is completely normal.
You and your partner should be prepared for some ups and downs after your new arrival. And, you may be more interested in sleep than in sex for the first few months.
Another common concern among pregnant women is the fact that their partner can sometimes seem disinterested in the pregnancy. As frustrating as this may be, there are many reasons why your partner may seem disconnected and most of them are not cause for alarm. Check out our 10 creative ideas to get your husband involved in your pregnancy for help.
By treating each other with understanding and compassion, you can most likely find a “new” normal that is satisfying for both of you.
9. Fear of Accidentally Harming Your Baby.
At some point, every mother worries that they will eat, drink or do the wrong thing and accidentally harm their baby. Expectant moms have so many rules to follow and so many lifestyle changes to make that it can be impossible remember everything.
If you eat a piece of deli ham, drink a latte or walk a little too briskly, chances are that everything will be OK. Your doctor will let you know about the major things to avoid at your first prenatal visit.
Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to follow every single rule and, if you do slip up, remember that the risks are probably very small. And if you’re tired of all these limitations and miss the taste of a good cocktail, try out the liquor-free recipes from Preggatinis: Mixology for the Mom-To-Be.
10. Career Concerns.
Depending on the type of job you have, it can be very difficult to cope with pregnancy in the workplace. You may find it difficult to be on your feet (or sitting for long periods of time), or you may not be able to work long hours without feeling completely exhausted.
It is also very common for women to become stressed as they consider whether they should continue working or stay home after the baby is born.
You should discuss your concerns with your partner and take stock of your priorities and financial situation. There are many factors that will influence your decisions about when to start maternity leave, whether you should change jobs or stop working altogether.
Since this is a delicate subject for pregnant women we recommend the following sources of information about pregnant women rights at the workplace:
- The book from Nihara K. Choudhri called Preparing for Baby;
- Parents.com’s list of basic pregnant workplace rights; and
- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a very informative page about pregnancy rights and discrimination at the workplace.
Ultimately, you should trust yourself to make the decision that is best for your family.