During pregnancy, your body is being bombarded with a variety of hormones that can affect your mood, triggering a roller coaster of emotions. You may feel tearful but not know why. You may be deliriously happy one minute only to being gripped by a seemingly irrational fear moments later. Don't worry: you're not the only one. Most expectant mothers - and fathers - go through anxious moments.
Couples often have fears about the birth, some of which stem from a lack of accurate information. Rather than avoiding the subject, it is a good idea for both of you to find out as much as you can about labour by attending antenatal classes. Here you will be encouraged to talk about your feelings and to discuss not only your fears but also your hopes.
As their shape changes during pregnancy, some women begin to worry that they will no longer be attractive to their partner. You may think you look fat rather than pregnant or get a shock when you catch sight of your growing bump in the reflection of a shop doorway or a mirror.
Becoming a parent involves adjusting to some huge changes in role and lifestyle, which can be difficult. If this is your first baby, you might worry that your partner will see you differently after the birth: not as a lover but in your new role as a mother. You may also have some regrets
About the loss of freedom. If you already have an older child or children, you may worry about how they will adjust to the arrival of a new baby brother or sister.
There will probably be changes in your financial circumstances or in your housing as well. If your pregnancy was not planned, you may worry about being unable to support a baby financially or your house being too small. Of course, it is important to think through the practicalities of returning to work or enlisting your family to help out with childcare, but some people feel that they would never have enough money, enough bedrooms or a big enough car, and, with hindsight, do not regret an unplanned pregnancy.
Talking with other women with children can be a great support. It helps to learn how others have adjusted to motherhood and to see that, although the life changes involved in having a baby may be significant, the majority of people get through them and become good parents with happy children.
Previous difficult pregnancies
Women with a history of difficult pregnancy, perhaps a stillbirth or miscarriage, can be particularly fearful about'something going wrong! If this is the case, it is important to talk about your worries. Speaking to others who have had a similar experience may provide you with the extra emotional support that you need. Alternatively, you might ask your midwife or doctor to see you more often, or have additional ultrasound scans if this gives you reassurance that everything is proceeding normally.
All care should be individualized, that is, suited to you and you alone. If, for instance, you have had a previous stillbirth, you may be given the option of having your baby early, as some women in these circumstances find the last couple of weeks of their pregnancy unbearable, worrying that something will go wrong again. Needs vary from person to person, not only physically but emotionally, so try to be honest with your midwife or doctor about how you feel and what it is that is worrying you.
Concerns about your baby
Many women are afraid of something being wrong with their baby. They may feel guilty about having drunk alcohol in the weeks before they knew they were pregnant or worry that they have eaten the 'wrong'types of food.
There are screening tests available, including ultrasound scans, which can help reassure you about certain abnormalities. However, no one can ever guarantee that there will be no problems with your baby, no matter what you have eaten or not eaten, or whatever your lifestyle. But, if you have not done so already, do your best to adopt a healthy lifestyle as soon as you find out that you are pregnant. By stopping smoking, giving up alcohol and eating a healthy diet you will give your baby the best start possible.