From the moment you get that positive sign on a pregnancy test, you’re mind and emotions start running like crazy. Unless you’re in the doctor’s office, it’s hard to tell what’s going on inside your belly. This can lead to overwhelming anxiety & worries.
During my first pregnancy, I was in the doctors office almost every week during the first trimester because I was nervous and needed some reassurance that everything was progressing properly. At that point, you don’t see your belly growing, can’t feel the baby moving, and are so new to this pregnancy thing, that it can be scary!
I would get reassurance during a doctors appointment, but then up until the next appointment, I was nervous again. After all the worrying and nerves, I’ve had two healthy babies and realized that there was no reason to worry. Of course, there are always times that there could be something wrong and you should make sure to contact your physician immediately.
Here are some of the things that got me anxious so you know you’re not alone. My doctor had reassured me on all of these issues and the majority of the time, everything ends up being fine.
Will I have a miscarriage?
This can be especially scary if you have heard stories about the many women who do experience a miscarriage. The statistics are 1 in 4 of every pregnancy is miscarried, but that is typically in the first couple weeks, before you would even KNOW you’re pregnant. Once you hear a heartbeat around 6-8 weeks, your chances of miscarrying drops dramatically to 5%. This keeps getting lower as your pregnancy progresses.
The odds are in your favor that you will bring a perfectly healthy baby to term, so try not to stress that there is something that could go wrong. In the small chance that you do miscarry, there is a reason that fetus wasn’t viable. Typically, these babies would have had a chromosomal disorder or something that makes them unable to sustain life. A healthy baby who is strong enough to survive will make it through no problem!
Am I eating enough and getting enough nutrition for my baby?
You may have heard the phrase eating for two when you’re pregnant. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to eat double, but just that you’re providing another human being with nutrients from your food intake.
In the first trimester, you may feel too nauseous to keep anything down. It’s scary to think that if you only had 4 crackers all day, your baby might not be getting enough nutrients to progress. The good news is that your baby will take all the nutrients it needs to survive before it even gives you any of it. The fetus is also about the size of a raspberry at this point so they don’t even need that much at all. Some women even end up losing 10-15lbs in their first trimester and everything is still ok. Just be confident that our bodies are made for this and it will do all that it can to keep your baby safe and healthy with what it is provided.
It’s always recommended to take a good prenatal vitamin everyday to make sure you’re getting those vitamins and minerals your body needs to keep both you and your baby healthy. I love these vitamins because they also contain DHA which is another substance that supports increased brain development.
I don’t feel the baby moving
Feeling your baby kick and move inside you is probably the best feeling in the world. Once you start feeling them (around 18-22 weeks), it can be a little nerve wracking when you don’t. For those first few weeks you may only feel movement every couple days and that’s perfectly normal because the baby is still so small.
Around 26 weeks is when you should start consistently feeling your baby multiple times a day. My doctor had told me that you should feel your baby 10 times within an hours time. Sometimes I would feel 10 kicks within the first 5 minutes, but other times it could take much longer. This would freak me out, but often if I would take a break from worrying about it for an hour or two, I would feel the baby again.
Feeling the baby move all the time is crucial to knowing your baby is ok, however it just depends how aware you are of the movements and what time of day you choose to take notice of it. For example, if you are busy at work all day and your baby is moving a lot, you may not notice it, and then at night when you want to feel, the movements may have quieted down. However, your doctor will always say, if you don’t feel movement, call them, but all of the times that happened to me, everything turned out to be fine!
Some tips to get the baby moving if you’re worried about decreased movement:
Eat/drink something sugary. The baby tends to respond to your rise in blood sugar and will start moving again soon.
Lie down. I always saw results from just laying down and resting with my hand on my belly. It may not be right away, but typically movement lulls the baby to sleep, so when you’re resting, they tend to move around a lot more. That’s why you probably feel them a lot more in the evenings and at night.
Get active. Do a few jumping jacks and then rest. Your baby may just be sleeping and you’ll surely wake them up this way.
Gently poke at your belly. It’s safe to move your belly around a bit to try to arouse them.
To ease some of my worries about the movement, I also got a fetal doppler which let me hear the heartbeat of my baby at home (the same way they do at the doctor’s office). This way, I could be a little more reassured that everything was ok.
Umbilical cord wrapped around the neck
You’ve probably had an ultrasound where the umbilical cord may have been wrapped around your baby’s neck. You may be worried that the baby could be strangled in there and not able to breathe. The good news is that when a baby is in the womb, they don’t breathe through their nose and mouth like we do. They’re not getting oxygen through their mouth and nose, but rather the umbilical cord, so there’s no oxygen supply to be cut off. So if you’re thinking about how something wrapped around our neck would strangle us, it just can’t happen that way for a fetus.
Since the baby is moving around so much while floating around in your belly, it could get wrapped several times through out pregnancy, but it’s nothing to worry about. However, if the baby is delivered with the cord around his neck when he has to let out that first breath, oxygen could be deprived. If this were to happen, your doctor would cut it off so quickly that it shouldn’t even have any effect on your baby. If you’re interested in reading more about the nuchal cord, click here.
Am I eating too much or gaining too much weight? Will I ever lose it?
Sometimes women might get carried away with the eating for two phrase. Again, it doesn’t mean you need to eat double what you were eating before. However, for some women that may be self-conscious about their bodies, gaining 30-40lbs is unthinkable. Remember you’re growing a baby and the little miracle that you will produce will be worth the few extra pounds.
Eating healthy is key. You can snack and may eat larger portions than usual because you will be hungrier. However, try to keep it to healthy choices like more fruits, vegetables, and protein. Here are some guidelines from the American Pregnancy Association on how to eat healthy during pregnancy.
Rest assured, most of that weight will just fall off after birth. Here’s a break down of where those extra pounds have gone to and why they will disappear quickly once the baby, placenta, and extra fluid comes out.
- 7 1/2 pounds baby weight by the end of pregnancy.
- 1 1/2 pounds is how much the placenta weighs.
- 4 pounds is increased fluid volume.
- 2 pounds is the weight of the uterus.
- 2 pounds is the weight of breast tissue.
- 4 pounds is because of increased blood volume.
- 7 pounds is attributed to maternal stores of fat, protein and other nutrients.
- 2 pounds for the amniotic fluid.
- Total: 30 pounds
The majority of the weight will be shed in the first two weeks post-delivery. For the remainder of the weight loss, you may need to work a little harder at it. For example, increasing your water intake, nursing, exercising, and eating healthier.
During my first pregnancy, I gained 45lbs and lost 35lbs of it within about 2.5 months (the first 25 came off within 2-3 weeks). My second pregnancy, I gained 35lbs and lost just about all of it within 3 months. This is without doing much exercising or eating healthier (which I should have been doing). So have no fear that you will lose most of the weight and for anything that is a little more stubborn to come off, just make healthy choices and you will get there!
Is my baby breech or in the right position?
You don’t have to worry about the position of your baby until about 34-36 weeks. You may go to an appointment at 26 or 30 weeks where they’ll tell you that your baby’s head is up and not in the correct position, but there is still so much time for it to turn! The baby naturally wants to be in the head down position.
Gravity and the natural process of pregnancy will take your baby into this position with 97% of full term deliveries. So your chances are very high for your baby to get into the proper position, however there is always that exception. If you get closer to delivery and the baby hasn’t turned, you can try some of these activities to help.
Will exercising hurt the baby?
Good news- you can continue your normal exercises routine for as long as your body is able to handle it! Just don’t over exert yourself because you will be exhausted, especially in your third trimester while you’re carrying a lot of extra weight. You shouldn’t cause any harm to your baby, but you could hurt yourself by pulling a muscle or getting injured due to the extra weight you’re carrying.
If you haven’t already been exercising that much during pregnancy, it’s best to just stick to yoga or light cardio like walking and light weights (5lbs or under), just so you don’t injure yourself. If you were already an exercise enthusiast, keep on going! Just keep in mind that you’re not going to feel the same way you felt before pregnancy. My sister in law was running 5 miles and doing burpees at 9 months pregnant and has healthy babies to show for it!
Why can’t I sleep?
You may be so uncomfortable from your growing belly, frequent urge to pee, anxiety and emotions, or even nausea. Even though this will prepare you for the lack of sleep during the first few weeks of having a baby, you want to get in as much rest as you can before then. Though I can’t guarantee you a way of a full night’s sleep, here are some things that helped me.
You may want to purchase a Pregnancy body pillow. This one in particular is highly recommended and helps to ease the discomfort when sleeping on your side with a heavy belly. It conforms to the shape of your body and can also be used to recline in and nurse post-delivery.
In the third trimester you will be waking up often to urinate. This is because your bladder has so much pressure on it and not enough room to fully expand with your growing baby in there. To prevent these night awakenings, try not to drink anything for 2 hours before bedtime if possible, and that may decrease the urge to go at night.
Even though you can’t fully prevent that urge, at least make life easier when you do wake up. Make sure you have a nightlight in your bathroom so you don’t have to fully wake yourself up with a bright, overhead light. I love these dusk to dawn sensor lights that turn on automatically when it’s dark and off when it gets lighter. You’ll need them also when you have the baby for night feedings and diaper changes.
Also, this nifty invention-Lumilux, is great for added light in the bathroom. It lights up the toilet bowl when motion is detected! One of the coolest things I’ve purchased since I’m always up in the middle of the night since being pregnant twice and with newborns.
Did I do or eat something to harm the baby?
Nowadays there are so many things out there that have been studied to potentially cause harm to the human species. You read about so many different things from aluminum foil to microwave radiation to pesticides in food. It can really drive you crazy if you’re trying to avoid everything that has a potential to cause harmful effects on our body. Now when you’re pregnant, it’s even more scary because your baby is so tiny that you worry about just a small amount of these substances could harm them too.
I got into a period where I would only buy organic food and products that touched my body and I would worry if I ate a non-organic strawberry, did I just put chemicals inside my baby? It’s tough on yourself to think this way and I don’t suggest you do. For my first pregnancy I tried to stick to mostly organic products, but for the second pregnancy I didn’t and again, both my children are healthy.
There are things that are obviously off limits during pregnancy like drugs and certain medications, but I believe (and my doctors views are) that most things in moderation should be ok. It will do more harm to our emotional and mental well-being to rid our lives of all potentially harmful products so it’s best to use anything in moderation.
The research on this topic is that there ISN’T enough research or proof to back up a claim that something is harmful (in most cases). For example, alcohol. They know that having 10 glasses of wine a day would be detrimental for a fetus, but do they know if 1 glass a week would be harmful? Or 1 glass a month? The answer is, no. So we are told to avoid these things in case.
Other things that we are told to avoid, like deli meats or raw fish, is just on the very small chance that if it is contaminated, it could hurt the baby. If you had a turkey sandwich last week by accident and didn’t get sick, don’t worry about it now because it wasn’t contaminated. I’ve had thousands of turkey sandwiches in my life and never once got sick from it. So that shows you the small chance it would have to be contaminated. I’m not saying to go out and eat whatever you want. The risk is so small that it could cause a problem, but who wants to take that chance?
Will something be wrong with my baby?
This is a big fear I had especially after reading a lot about the very small percentage of genetic conditions or disabilities. Instead of dwelling on the 3% chance of anything bad happening, I had to tell myself that there’s a 97% chance that I will have a healthy baby. That helped me be optimistic that everything was progressing well and everything would be fine.
How will I know when I’m in labor?
Like anyone who has given birth will tell you, YOU WILL KNOW when you’re in labor, but I beg to differ. For both of my pregnancies, I went into labor very differently. The first time, my water broke completely, but contractions didn’t start on their own. A few weeks before I went into labor, I had very intense contractions for a couple hours. I thought that was labor, but it turned out not to be.
For my second pregnancy, my contractions for the first couple hours just felt like period cramps. They did get closer together, but they didn’t feel as intense as I thought it would feel if I was actually in labor. It didn’t start getting that bad until I was actually admitted to the hospital. So for most of these instances I didn’t know whether or not it was labor.
You just have to use your best judgement if you’re having contractions (even if you’re not in that much pain) and they are getting closer together. This Bloom Life Contraction Monitor seems like such a great gadget to have. I wish I knew about it during my previous pregnancies! It works by attaching to your belly and tracking and monitoring any contractions that you would be having. You learn your body’s natural contractions and you know when something is different which would mean LABOR!
Will I get to the hospital in time?
This was one of my biggest worries for my second pregnancy, primarily due to my husband working 2 hours away and having my 1 year old daughter to worry about where she would go. It’s best to have a plan in place for all the scenarios of what could happen. If you go into labor at work, when your husband’s at work, in the middle of the night, etc. It’s not such a concern if you don’t have another child at home to worry about.
Most often, first time births aren’t that quick and you should have plenty of time to get to the hospital. However, it’s important to have your hospital bag packed and in your car, doctor on speed dial, and others close to you know if you’re going to need their help. Just be aware of the signs your body is telling you and don’t hang around at home for too long once you feel the contractions start because it could intensify very quickly.
For my last pregnancy, I started feeling contractions, but they were very weak and not painful. I had to call my mom to watch my daughter, but it was 4am so I didn’t want to wake her yet until I really knew labor was starting. Luckily, I called her before it started getting intense because by the time she got to my house I was already in more pain and if I had waited any longer, we would have probably had to bring my daughter to the hospital with us!
Make sure you have everything packed in your hospital bag well in advance. Read my post on the Necessities for your hospital delivery bag
Will the labor and delivery be painful?
Not to sugar coat anything, but yes labor is painful. It may be easier or worse for some people, but it’s not a walk in the park. Just be thankful there are pain management techniques out there and the epidural will probably be your favorite thing ever.
You may be in more pain while you’re laboring on your own, but once you’re at the hospital you should be able to get what you need to manage the pain. One pointer: it can take awhile (almost 2 hours for me!) for the anesthesiologist to get to your room with the epidural, so make sure you ask for it as soon as you get to the hospital!
Read about How to make a postpartum recovery kit with everything you will need to help you heal. You should have these items before birth to bring to the hospital just so you’re prepared.