If you’ve suffered a miscarriage and/or have struggled with infertility for years, becoming pregnant may be the greatest blessing of your life. But, it can also be terrifying. Early pregnancy especially, can be filled with anxiety and worries about the potential for another miscarriage. Even if you’ve never had a miscarriage but you’ve suffered from infertility, you can be scared because you thought you weren’t capable of it and you worry something will happen. In this post I’m going to talk about why fear is completely normal and what to do about it so you aren’t a basket-case your entire pregnancy.
If you’ve experienced a loss, research shows you will probably experience anxiety in subsequent pregnancies. It doesn’t really matter if it was a chemical pregnancy, early miscarriage, later pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or even infant loss. All of these can lead to fear and anxiety in your next pregnancy. Even though my latest miscarriage was at 6 weeks, I was pretty much nervous every day of my miracle pregnancy until I reached about 26 weeks (the point at which 90% of babies born are viable). I also had cramping (sometimes intense) through the end of month 6 (apparently this is normal for some women), so I was pretty much constantly afraid I was about to miscarry.
For me, this fear manifest itself in a number of ways. First, for about the first 4 months of my pregnancy I was scared every time I went to the bathroom that there would be blood on the tissue. Second, we were terrified to have sex. Third, I rushed to the doctor with any sign of ANYTHING. Fourth, I obsessively googled and always had to have my doctor check to make sure nothing was wrong (i.e., “Are you sure the cervix isn’t shortening? Can you give me the exact length?”). Fourth- I was terrified when either I’d stop having symptoms for a day (earlier in the pregnancy), or when I wouldn’t feel the baby move (later in the pregnancy). Now, I still had joy, excitement, and happiness throughout, they were just peppered with the fear. In the end, I really enjoyed most of my final trimester- with the occasional pang of fear – and delivered a beautiful healthy boy. I didn’t suffer from any post-partum depression.
Unfortunately for some women, the anxiety and fear take over their pregnancy and they never manage to feel that joy, excitement and happiness. Some even become clinically depressed or anxious which then turns into post-partum depression that makes it hard for them to enjoy their little miracle. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU. It DOESN’T HAVE TO. There is a simple, better way.
Here’s what I did- I did a TON of things all pregnancy long to manage my fears and anxiety so they never grew into anything larger than just moderate stress. You need to TAKE ACTION now to manage the fear. And, its going to be easier than you think- I promise!
- Realize this is normal. Lots of women have miscarriages, and pretty much all of them are nervous wrecks during their next pregnancy. It is totally, completely, and utterly normal. Does it suck? Yes, but it is normal.
- Know moderate stress won’t hurt your baby. I know, you’ve heard that stress isn’t good for your baby and your mom keeps saying, “you need to relax!” As if you didn’t hear enough of that while you were trying to conceive! And it is absolutely true that severe stress, anxiety or depression DOES have negative outcomes for baby. So, for example, if one of your parents pass away, both you and your husband lose your jobs, and you collapse into a state of anxiety or depression where you can’t function, then, yes, that could lead to some health issues for the baby. BUT, the evidence shows that moderate levels of stress and and anxiety DO NOT affect pregnancy. Let me repeat that- even if you have a moderate amount of worry your ENTIRE pregnancy, your baby will be FINE. It might suck for you though, which is why we want to focus on how to manage it.
- Decide your number one goal is healthy baby and healthy momma. I know. You are in the throws of progesterone-induced emotional upheaval and you are sobbing into your partner’s arms, “But pregnancy is supposed to be a JOYFUL experience!! Why can’t *I* have that??!!!???” Just give it up. The only thing that is truly important is healthy baby and healthy momma. Hopefully, by following my tips you will have a joy filled pregnancy, anyway. BUT, that is NOT the most important thing and not your number 1 goal.
- Meditate. I’m not kidding. If you do any of these eight recommendations do this one! Studies are very clear- spending 10-20 minutes or so a day in the “relaxation response” (which is the scientific term for the trance-like state you enter during meditation) completely resets you from a cellular level and makes you happier and more relaxed. Promise yourself you will spend 20 minutes a day or so doing one of these things- progressive relaxation, guided imagery, biofeedback, self-hypnosis, meditation, or deep-breathing exercises. Suck at doing all those things on your own? Yeah, me too. Luckily, there is a perfect solution. Circle + Bloom has a great pregnancy visualization series that has a different program for each week of the first trimester, and every month of the rest of your cycle. I bought their Healthy Pregnancy and Delivery Program as soon as the doctor confirmed my pregnancy at 4 weeks. I listened to it every day for the first trimester and it was such a relief. It starts out with progressive relaxation until you have reached the “relaxation response” and then it has a visualization for exactly what is happening in your pregnancy that week- in every perfect and wonderful way. After the first trimester it has a meditation for each month of your second and third trimesters. Here’s their “The Science Behind Our Programs” in case you are interested.
- Journal. Write down all your fears. Acknowledge them and release them to the universe. Sometimes this is easier than telling your partner or your mom for the 42nd time.
- Practice Self-Care. Do whatever makes you feel happy. Gentle walks outside, some sweet prenatal yoga, crafting, reading novels, heck, even binge-watching Gilmore Girls (I watched the entire series while pregnant). Take care of yourself.
- Pray. Then pray some more. Ladies, I prayed my butt off while pregnant. I went on Amazon and ordered four different pregnancy prayer books! There are tons of these- pregnancy prayer books, devotionals, etc. This one was my favorite as it prayed explicitly for the baby’s development each week of pregnancy. However, I have now found the mind blowing book Supernatural Childbirth which is all about “confessing scripture” for fertility, healthy pregnancy, and easy birth. This book is amazing, and less than $5. There is a chapter with prayers and scripture for during pregnancy and if you are fearing a miscarriage is threatening. Its so good and totally different than anything else I have ever read. You can also pray to the Patron Saints of Fertility & Pregnancy, especially to St. Gerard, or to St. Catherine who is a special saint for preventing miscarriage.
- Practice Gratitude. What better time in your life than now to practice gratitude? Live it, breathe it, be it. Wake up and give praise and thanks. Give thanks during the day. Give thanks at night. Give thanks out loud. Give thanks in your mind. Give thanks through writing it down. KNOW you are blessed.
I hope that you will have a blessed and healthy pregnancy. I pray that you will have a healthy and happy baby and momma. Now, go make it happen!!!