There's no denying it. Worrying is as much a part of pregnancy as stretch marks and popped belly buttons. While you are unlikely to stop worrying entirely until Junior makes his grand entrance a few months down the road, there's plenty you can do to keep your worry-o-meter from shooting off the scale in the meantime. Here's what you need to know about the top ten first-trimester worries that are most likely to have you pacing the floor at 3 a.m.
1. I'm petrified that I'm going to have a miscarriage. If there's one fear that's pretty much universal among newly pregnant women, it's the fear of experiencing a miscarriage. While the majority of pregnant women will end up with the storybook happy ending that they're hoping for, a significant number-between 15 and 20 per cent – will experience the heartbreak of miscarriage. The way to cope with this particular worry is to turn it on its head. Rather than focusing on your odds of miscarrying, focus on your odds of not miscarrying: 80 to 85 per cent.
2. I don't feel pregnant anymore. Could I have experienced a miscarriage? After spending weeks coping with morning sickness, overwhelming fatigue, and swollen breasts, it can be a little disconcerting to have all those symptoms disappear overnight. While it's true that a sudden disappearance of pregnancy symptoms can indicate a missed miscarriage (a situation in which the developing baby dies, but is not immediately expelled from the mother's body), that's not the only reason your symptoms may have disappeared. They tend to disappear towards the end of the first trimester anyway. Bottom line? If you're really concerned, call your doctor or midwife.
3. I had a glass of wine before I found out I was pregnant. Will my baby be okay? While it's obviously best to avoid exposing your baby to any potentially harmful substances during the period when your baby's major organs are being formed (approximately two to eight weeks after conception), there's no point in beating yourself up about that glass of wine now. Instead, concentrate on making the healthiest possible choices for the remainder of your pregnancy.
4. I'm worried that being pregnant at age 40 puts me at risk of giving birth to a baby with a chromosomal abnormality. While the risk of giving birth to a baby with a chromosomal abnormality such as Down's syndrome increases as you age, it's important to remember that a 40-year-old woman still has a better than 98 per cent chance of having a chromosomally normal child. There are, however, tests to check for abnormality and abnormality risks. If you are concerned, talk to your doctor about them.
5. I fell down a flight of stairs last night. I'm petrified I'll have a miscarriage because of the fall. While it's hard not to hit the panic button when you take a tumble, try to keep in mind that your body is designed to protect your baby against accidents like this. The walls of your uterus are made up of thick, strong muscles and your baby is floating around in a sea of amniotic fluid that also provides a cushioning effect. Add to this the fact that your uterus is tucked behind your pelvic bone during early pregnancy and you'll see that your odds of experiencing a miscarriage as a result of a fall are very slim indeed. If you are still worried, see your doctor.
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6. I'm basically surviving on soda crackers and flat ginger ale these days. I'm worried that my baby is being deprived of important nutrients. If your baby had to rely on what you were able to consume on a meal-to-meal basis, there might be cause for concern. Fortunately, Mother Nature has prepared for such a possibility by stockpiling nutrients in your body. Your baby is still dining away on nutrients packed away from all those healthy-balanced meals you enjoyed during your pre-morning sickness days.
7. Everyone says I'm huge. I'm worried that I could be carrying twins. If your belly seemed to blossom overnight and everyone's commenting about how pregnant you look, it's only natural to start wondering if you could be carrying more than one baby. While your odds of conceiving twins are relatively small (one in 90, unless you happened to conceive with the assistance of fertility drugs), the only way to find out for sure is to go for an ultrasound.
8. I experienced a lot of complications during my first pregnancy. I'm worried that I'm doomed to repeat them this time around. While certain sorts of complications do tend to recur during subsequent pregnancies, others do not. Pre-eclampsia for example, tends to be more of a problem the first time around than in future pregnancies.The best way to address these concerns is to discuss them with your doctor or midwife.
9. I'm worried that my older child will resent rather than love the new baby. As excited as you are to be pregnant again, it's only natural to worry about the disruption that may result from adding another baby to the family. While there can be some rough spots during the early weeks as your older child learns how to share you with the new baby, most families find that these problems tend to become less of a problem over time. You can help lessen it with some simple actions. Arrange by arranging for grandparents to give the older child lots of one-on-one attention, for example. Keep the older child's routines as consistent as possible, or have the new baby give the older child a present.
10. My vaginal secretions have changed. I'm worried that I've developed some sort of infection. This is generally only cause for concern if your vaginal discharge becomes greenish-yellow, foul-smelling, or watery. There's no need to be alarmed if you experience an increase in the amount of leukorrhea – the odourless, white, mucus-like discharge produced by the vagina – while you're pregnant. Hormonal changes can cause your vaginal secretions to become wetter and more abundant.
Fortunately, your first trimester worries won't be around forever. Before you know it, you'll be into the second semester… with a whole new set of worries.
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