For most women, finding out they are pregnant is one of happiest days of their lives.
Often, they already love the new being growing inside them, and the birth is an eagerly anticipated event. Why, then, do so many women fall prey to a host of fears and insecurities?
Without our knowledge – and certainly without our permission – these usually irrational fears take our unconscious by storm, and we have to deal with them somehow, in addition to dealing with the physical signs and symptoms that inevitably show up to transform our bodies.
First, there is the first trimester, that often decisive period in which we find out if the fetus is properly implanted in the uterus. Early miscarriages (less than 12 weeks late for your period) are so common that one in five women have them. [i] Most women’s circle of friends and family is used to the idea that they will only hear about the baby after the first trimester is over. That says a lot!
Shortly thereafter, before we have even had time to take in the fact that the first trimester (and its associated nausea) is at an end, it’s time to assess the risk factors of Down syndrome, aka trisomy 21. This is yet another stress for most parents because, although many will choose to raise a Down syndrome child, no one would voluntarily bring a child into the world with an extra chromosome. Screening for trisomy 21 involves two blood tests: the first between 10 and 13 weeks of pregnancy and the second between 14 and 16 weeks. An ultrasound is also recommended around the 12th week to measure fetal nuchal translucency. Only if the results indicate a high risk will the healthcare professional suggest performing an amniocentesis to confirm or refute the possibility.
The closer the due date gets, the more fearful we become. Even though the experience of bringing another human being into the world is a momentous one, we are still going toward the unknown. For most of us, the physical effort of giving birth is immense and – let’s cut to the chase here – somewhat painful. Will we be strong enough? What if we need to have a Caesarean? Or worse, what if the baby is stillborn?
Every family has its own genetic baggage. But what exactly will this little being inherit, and how will its cells decipher all the genetic information as it grows up? Will it develop ADHD, an autoimmune disease or some kind of syndrome? We want only the best for our children yet, in spite of these wishes, will we doom them to a lifetime of overcoming physical and / or psychological challenges?
Interested couples now have the option of taking a genetic screening test before they become pregnant, to find out if they could pass on any defective genes to their children. Having this information reduces the stress levels of some expectant parents.[iii]
Many of us have, or will, experience these stressful emotions during pregnancy and after the birth of their child. It’s all part of becoming a parent: constantly worrying about every little thing that has to do with our children. The most important thing is not allowing those fears to prevent us from enjoying all the heartwarming moments, from learning to take care of ourselves so we can put it all into perspective … and from deeply and truly loving our child.
Anik expertly navigates today’s frantic business schedules on a daily basis. Three years ago, this experienced and extremely busy businesswoman graduated from the prestigious McGill-HEC Montréal EMBA program. She has two children – a moody 16 year-old and a very active 6 year-old – and still finds time for community involvement and writing on a variety of health-related topics.