While we wish it wasn’t so, that’s a pretty typical reaction for many women to have in those first few weeks of pregnancy. Even if you were trying to conceive and are happy about your pregnancy, it is not uncommon for women to feel slightly panicked when they see those two blue lines. Many a pregnant woman has wondered: Did I make the right decision? What did I get myself into? Am I really ready for this?!
In addition, the experience of pregnancy before you look pregnant or feel baby’s movement can be a surreal and scary one. This time is especially nerve-wracking for women who have a history of pregnancy loss. Sure, you might feel nauseated and bloated, crampy and fatigued, but how do you really know everything is all right in there with that little bean? What may be even more frustrating and concerning is that some women don’t have many pregnancy symptoms at all. You just have to wait…which is so hard!!
Here are five things to consider that might bring you some peace of mind during this exciting but tense time:
Wide range of normal
There is a very wide range of what is normal with pregnancy symptoms. Some women never feel a single pregnancy symptom or have just a few. Some women feel worse in the beginning but as they approach 9 weeks or so, they start to feel better. Some women feel crummy until 12, 13 or 14 weeks…or even well into the second trimester! And all of those women can go on to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. Remember: whether you are having many symptoms or none at all, the absence of bleeding or spotting is reassuring in and of itself.
Early pregnancy can feel like PMS
If you have never been pregnant before, every new twinge can make you worry and wonder, “Is that normal?” Many women are surprised to learn that symptoms often associated with the start of your period (like menstrual cramping, bloating, headaches, fatigue and breast tenderness) are all normal pregnancy symptoms, too, and are generally considered good things. Many women misread these symptoms as a sign that they are going to start their period and miscarry, but there is often no cause for worry. In fact, blood flow to your growing uterus and the hormones progesterone and hCG are the main culprits for these normal and healthy “PMS-type” symptoms. After all, your uterus is now the star of the show and it’s bound to have some growing pains!
One miscarriage does not make you more likely to miscarry
If you do have a history of pregnancy loss, finding out you are pregnant again can be both blissful and worrying. However, unless you have been diagnosed with infertility or a medical condition known to increase chances of pregnancy loss, a history of one miscarriage does not make you any more likely to have a miscarriage in the future. Many women who have had healthy pregnancies and have healthy children have had at least one miscarriage. It’s (unfortunately) just not something people talk about, so we’re not always aware of how common it can be.
It gets better!
The surreal limbo that many women find themselves in during the early weeks does end, and each milestone after is a joyous reminder of the growing life inside you! By 10-12 weeks your clinician will be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat with a small handheld device called a “doppler,” and the fetal heartbeat check will become an exciting part of each subsequent prenatal visit. You will also be offered an ultrasound around 18-20 weeks to assess the baby’s anatomy. While this is first and foremost a clinical exam, it can also be exciting to see the baby inside your womb. Soon after that, you’ll start to feel the baby’s movements. It starts off feeling like gas bubbles or butterflies in your stomach but before long you’ll not only feel strong kicks, you’ll actually be able to see the baby moving around inside as you watch your belly rise and fall with the somersaults!
Remember: Happy Mommy, Happy Baby!
While some amount of worry is normal, high levels of anxiety in pregnancy are not good for you or for the baby. It raises your cortisol levels and puts you in a chronic state of “fight or flight.” If you find that your anxiety is causing you significant distress or if it is affecting your health, your work or your relationships, please speak to your clinician.
Belleruth Naparstek, LISW, BCD Psychotherapist, is the creator of the popular guided imagery audio series entitled Health Journeys. She has created meditation CDs for fertility, pregnancy and general health and relaxation, and her series is a good place to start if you are a beginner.
Besides, right now is a perfect time to focus on YOU before your little one arrives. If you make a conscious effort to focus on thinking positive thoughts that keep your endorphins flowing, you may find that the early “just wait and see” weeks of pregnancy are over before you know it!