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Top 10 Pregnancy Fears

Need a reality check? Find out how valid your pregnancy paranoias really are.

Photo: Justine Cooper

Between all the stress of planning, the crazy new body changes, and the laundry list of dos and don’ts that come along with pregnancy, it’s no wonder why having a baby can bring along a ton of new worries. But while some fears may be totally warranted, let’s be honest; we’re all probably guilty of letting at least a few irrational ones freak us out more than they should. Read on as real mamas (and some of our favorite bloggers) spill their biggest pregnancy fears -- and we weigh in on just how likely they really are, after all.

1. Laying on my belly (and squashing baby)

Real mom fear: "I was always afraid I was going to somehow roll onto my stomach while I was sleeping and crush the baby! It makes me laugh now - it was almost impossible for me to move, I was so big; so the idea of rolling onto my stomach while I slept is pretty hilarious." -- Heather of The Spohrs Are Multiplying

Reality check: Boy do we hear this one a lot. And it makes sense – with all that’s going on in there, it's easy to wonder how baby will be protected if you accidentally roll onto your belly in the night. But the truth is, you can relax – your body was made to make plenty of room for baby in there. And according to New York OBGYN Dr. Ashley Roman, in the early stages of pregnancy, it’s perfectly safe to sleep on your stomach. Once your belly does start to grow, though, it won’t be comfy (or even possible) to lay for long periods on your stomach anyway; so you'll probably change positions on your own in your sleep long before you could do any harm to baby.

2. My face changing

Real mom fear: "My number one fear was that my nose would spread. What I mean is, I remember an older friend that got pregnant while I was in college, and her nose nearly doubled in size. It grew in width and depth. As her pregnancy progressed her nose seemed to swell in proportion to her belly!" -- Jolawn of Spelhouse Love

Reality check: Okay, yes, this one's true. (Well... sorta.) During pregnancy, Dr. Roman admits that some women do seem to notice significant facial changes. But a lot of this has to do with the weight gain, water retention, and hormonal shifts that are going on in your bod. The good news is though, they should subside after delivery once the hormones calm down, or as soon as you shed the baby weight. But even in cases where people claim the changes don’t subside, they aren't usually that dramatic. So if you're freaking out that you’ll one day look in the mirror and find a different person staring back, don’t. It's most likely all in your head.

3. Eating something that would harm baby

Real mom fear: "I was worried I’d inadvertently eat something or do something that would harm the baby. I was constantly reading pregnancy books and checking labels to make sure I wasn’t eating natural cheese or nitrates or consuming too much caffeine. I lived much of the pregnancy in fear and I attribute that to over researching everything. I Googled every symptom and twitch and had my doctor’s office on speed dial." – Shannon of Potamus Prefers

Reality check: With all the “eat this, not that” advice you get during pregnancy, it's easy to sometimes over-obsess about every little thing you come into contact with. But aside from the biggies like raw meat, seafood, unpasteurized milk or cheese, and of course booze, there aren’t too many things that are way off-limits. Even caffeine – commonly touted as unsafe during pregnancy – is still allowed in moderate doses. So don’t stress too much about food dos and don’ts. As long as you keep a generally balanced and healthy diet, and are aware of what's in your food before eating, baby should be A-okay.

4. Losing the baby

Real mom fear: "My biggest fear was miscarriage. And it was a choking, constant fear -- because at the end of the day, there was nothing I could do past eating healthy and resting to keep my baby safe and healthy.  Every moment that I stayed pregnant, I felt like getting on my knees and kissing everyone in thanks." -- Beth Anne of The Heir to Blair

Reality check: It can definitely be hard to get over those all-too-real fears of losing baby. And when it comes to the possibility of pregnancy loss, your fears are definitely warranted. But it’s also important not to let these fears rule all of your thoughts – and to know the stats. Most miscarriages happen within the first trimester and occur within about 15-25 percent of all pregnancies; but from about twelve weeks onward, Dr. Roman assures that the risk is dramatically reduced. So if you’ve made it past the 14 week mark, your risk of miscarrying is actually somewhere around one percent.

5. Baby will be deformed

Real mom fear: "During my first pregnancy I was afraid of everything and my biggest fear was that I would have a hermaphrodite baby. I saw this program on the Discovery Channel about kids who were born with both male and female genitalia and for the rest of my pregnancy I was like 'I'm definitely going to have a hermaphrodite baby.'" – Heather Armstrong of Dooce

Reality check: Luckily, the odds are on your side on this one. Hermaphrodites (or intersex babies, as they’re now called) make up a measly one percent of all live births. As for the chance that baby will be born with other physical deformities, recent stats say only three percent of all babies born in the U.S. wind up with significant physical birth defects each year (though this number reflects a very wide range of defects, big and small). While the rates are pretty slim, it's definitely still possible. But until you know for sure, try to curb some of your anxiety. (And lay off any documentaries on delivery mishaps, pregnancy phenomenons, or any other crazy-making programs that may lead you to freak out -- it won't do you or baby any good to worry.)

6. That the baby weight will never. Go. Away.

Real mom fear: "Should I admit this? My biggest fear with my pregnancies has been that I was going to gain 50 pounds and hang onto half of it for the rest of my life. When the second trimester hit during my first pregnancy, I was as hungry as a horse and it seemed like everything I ate stayed right on me. It felt like if I ate a carrot, I'd gain a pound. The numbers I saw on the scales scared me to no end." – Crystal of Money Saving Mom

Reality check: Sure, maybe not everything will look exactly how it used to after you give birth (unless you’re Gisele); but you can't psyche yourself out about losing the baby weight before baby even arrives! You’ve probably heard this one a million times, but it bears repeating: If it took nine months to put the weight on you can’t expect it to disappear overnight. Make that your mantra. Plus, remember that everyone loses weight at different paces, so resist the urge to compare yourself to other mamas who are jumping back into their skinny jeans right away. And whatever you do, definitely don’t compare yourself to all those celeb mamas who seem to regain their beach bodies five seconds after being wheeled out of delivery.

7. My water breaking in public

Real mom fear: "I was afraid to go anywhere for fear the dam would break. What in the world would I do if I was driving, grocery shopping, or eating at a restaurant and my water broke? How could I explain the wet seat or my wet pants? And would I be able to run fast enough out of wherever I was before anyone noticed? These concerns kept me home-bound." – Erica of Sweet Leigh Mama

Reality check: Okay, this one could definitely happen. (Sorry.) While your water could break at any time, it’s usually preceded by some warning contractions, which will give you a heads-up that baby’s almost ready. And even if it comes with no warning, there probably won’t be as much fluid as you think. Some women say it���s only a trickle, though there are many women who remember it as a "gush." But hey, either way, YOU’RE NINE MONTHS PREGNANT! It’s not like you don’t have a good excuse for why your pants may be inexplicably wet.

8. Going into preterm labor

Real mom fear: "I was so afraid I was going to have my twins prematurely. At first I thought I was being paranoid, but I actually did end up almost losing my twins around 21 weeks. I required an emergency cerclage for a shortened cervix, and my water around Baby A was punctured. I spent five months on bed rest before delivering healthy, albeit small, twin girls at almost 37 weeks." – Jennifer of The Foster Family

Reality check: According to Dr. Roman, preterm labor does affect about 12 percent of all pregnancies in the U.S., but most of these cases pertain to moms who are already at risk of it and have been forewarned by their docs. This happens mostly in cases where there’s a history of preterm birth, the pregnancy is with multiples, or Mom's uterus isn't fully formed. But even so, there are many moms who do actually deliver preterm without any warning or any of these symptoms. So if you’ve been nervous your water will break early, don’t worry – you’re not completely crazy. Just calm yourself with the realization that the odds of this happening are actually pretty small and keep in constant contact with your doc if you're high-risk.

9. Peeing my pants in public

Real mom fear: "All I can say is hello, incontinence! Every time I would laugh, sneeze, cough --or God forbid do any of the above while walking or moving around -- my bladder would let me down. I wore very long shirts in case it ever soaked though." – Erica of Sweet Leigh Mama

Reality check: Yep, we’re not going to lie here, it's pretty much a given that you’ll have a few leakage scenarios at some point during your pregnancy. When you’re creeping into the latter stages of pregnancy, sudden laughter, sneezing, or coughing are basically sure-fire ways to bring on a little surprise dribble or two. But will it turn into a full-on pants-wetting situation? Probably not. A little snissing here and there happens. And hey, that’s why they invented panty liners. So our advice: Stock up and learn to laugh about it.

10.  Being able to care for a newborn

Real mom fear: "I worried that I wouldn't be able to take care of a baby. I'd never even changed a diaper before my daughter was born!" – Suzanne (Duff), from My Mom Genes

Reality check: The good news is, while the newborn stage is definitely hectic and exhausting at times, it probably won’t take you long to realize that just like pregnancy, you can survive this too. Looking back, even Duff admits that as soon as she brought her baby home, she figured it all out pretty fast, despite it being "a comedy of errors" at first. So even if you've never laid eyes on a diaper, haven't a clue about swaddling, or aren’t yet adept at snapping a squealing baby into a onesie, don't worry – it’s not rocket science. You'll get there soon enough.


Read on for more pregnancy fears from real mamas >>

-- Kaitlin Stanford

See More: 1st Trimester , 2nd Trimester , 3rd Trimester , Is it safe