Sharon Wren, mother of two from East Moline, Ill., was particularly worried because of a previous miscarriage. “The doctors said there weren’t any signs that I would have a problem carrying another baby, but I wasn’t sure until he was born,” Wren says. “So that was a good nine months of worrying right there. My second big worry in the first trimester was weight gain – I wasn’t gaining weight because I had horrible morning sickness. I mean, I couldn’t even see a TV commercial mentioning food without my stomach lurching. I knew I was supposed to be putting on weight, but I actually lost a little. That was three very, very long, miserable months.”
If you have a tendency to worry during your first trimester, be assured that you’re not alone.
Jennie James, a mother of six from Haleyville, Ala., also worried during those first three months. “My first trimester is always filled with worries,” James says. “Mostly weight weighs heavily, since I seem to put on the most weight at the beginning of my pregnancies than at the end. I also have a history of twins and I have been pregnant with twins twice. Both times, I have miscarried one of the fetuses within the first trimester and then carry on and deliver the other baby. Because of the miscarriages I try to stay away from any medicine at all and I try to stay as stress free and calm as I can.”
To Worry Is Normal
If you have a tendency to worry during your first trimester, be assured that you’re not alone. Dr. Karen Perkins, an OB/GYN for Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md., says worry is common. “The most common worries in the first trimester for moms include both the mental and the physical,” Dr. Perkins says. “Not only do they worry about how the pregnancy will change the status quo but also they worry about whether or not they will be a good parent. Moms also worry about whether the baby will be normal, if they’re eating enough, if the baby will be affected by any medicine that they may have taken or if the drink of wine before discovering that they were pregnant will affect the pregnancy. I usually try to reassure moms who come in with various worries and also give them plenty of information focused on their concerns.”
But perhaps all that worry is telling the newly pregnant woman that they really will be a good mom, because that is exactly what moms do – they worry. “Moms worry because it’s in our nature,” Dr. Perkins says. “Also, moms worry because this is a time of unlimited possibilities over which there is no control for the most part. This is a new and exciting time that makes us wonder about the possibilities.”
Changes During the First Trimester
Dr. Ed Tomlinson, an OB/GYN physician with South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, N.Y., believes that part of the worry problem is due to the changes that come with being newly pregnant. “The first trimester is a time of change and lack of familiarity, especially for first-time moms,” Dr. Tomlinson says. “They have to move from dealing with trying to conceive to the reality of now they are pregnant. The worries over what can go wrong are commonplace as people are well aware of what can go wrong. They can lose sight of the fact that most pregnancies lead to a healthy child.”
Dr. Tomlinson goes on to say pregnancy is a normal state and not an illness and that moms can lose sight of this. Though not all pregnancies end well, moms should not dwell on this. “If miscarriage occurs, it does not mean something is wrong with the patient,” Dr. Tomlinson says. “But remember, most pregnancies don’t end this way. Current obstetrics has the tools to help moms through this time and get them on to a full-term delivery.”
Educating yourself on the changes pregnancy brings goes a long way in helping to alleviate some of the tension that comes from being a new mom. Joining a new moms group, either in person or online, to discuss some of these fears with other mothers is often helpful.
The Weight Issue
Most moms-to-be worry about gaining weight, or conversely not gaining enough weight. Dr. Tomlinson agrees this is one of the most common concerns during the first trimester. “Weight concerns are widespread,” Dr. Tomlinson says. “Weight gain recommendations are not as rigid as in the past. Usually, moms have no trouble gaining weight. In general, I give the mom a guideline of 25 pounds for the pregnancy: 3 pounds in the first trimester, 11 pounds in the mid-trimester and 11 in the last trimester. However, each individual is different.”
Moms should transfer their worries about weight into making sure that each bite is nutrient rich. The healthier you eat, the less likely it is that weight gain will be a problem.
Letting Go of Worries
Worries during the first trimester are common, but excessive worry can take the joy out of a very special time in a woman’s life. The following tips can give moms just what they need – a chance to enjoy every aspect of their pregnancy:
- Join a moms group either online or in person. Talking with other moms who have already experienced what you are going through can help soothe worries.
- Discuss your concerns with your OB/GYN. Knowledge is half the battle.
- Focus more on eating nutritious food and less on your weight. Everyone is unique and will gain differently throughout their pregnancy. Eating the best food for your baby should be the priority.
- Get plenty of pregnancy-friendly exercise. Exercise is a great stress reducer and helps control weight gain.