Many patients have told me they started thinking about what it will be like to be a mummy when they were young girls cuddling dolls and pretending their dolls were real babies.
Becoming a mother has a very special place in a woman’s heart and for so many women is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream.
While there can be curiosity about what it will like to be pregnant and to actually have a baby, pregnancy and childbirth are not usually lifelong dreams but are journeys they need to go on to achieve that lifelong dream of becoming a mother. A woman does not become pregnant to be pregnant. She becomes pregnant to have a baby, and pregnancy is the necessary journey she must go on to achieve that goal.
“I am excited and nervous!”
Two words describe how a pregnant woman typically feels at her first antenatal visit with me – excited and nervous.
She is so excited to be pregnant but also nervous in case there is something wrong. When I do the ultrasound scan at the first visit and she can see and hear baby’s heart beating and see the baby moving she is so relieved. There are often tears of joy.
While pregnancy and childbirth are times associated with great happiness and excitement, they also times associated with fears and anxieties. There is uncertainty about whether the journey will be successful. Pregnant women worry about pregnancy and childbirth complications, whether they can have normal delivery, significant tearing, coping with the pain of labour, etc.
Patients tell me they take comfort in my considerable experience as an obstetrician. I am forever reassuring patients. I typically say to them: “there is no need for you to worry if I am not worried”. Many pregnant women gravitate in their thinking to the negative and can find it hard to accept all is well. With my being so available to answer questions and to address concerns and being able to see a patient between scheduled visits when needed is very reassuring for patients.
Some pregnant women are more anxious than most
Some women are more anxious than usual by nature. Some women are more anxious than most because of their obstetric history. If a woman has had subfertility and difficulty conceiving, has had a miscarriage, and particularly if she has had multiple miscarriages and has not yet had a successful pregnancy she is usually more anxious. If she has had multiple miscarriages hopefully I have had a consultation with her before this pregnancy, and I have done work up and taken steps to minimise her likelihood of another miscarriage. But in any case, it is usual for me to see such women more frequently in the first trimester of pregnancy for monitoring and reassurance.
If a woman has had a termination of pregnancy she is often more anxious. On quizzing such a patient, I have often been told that her heightened anxiety has to do with a fear that she will be punished for what she has done. As well many such women grieve about the pregnancy that was terminated. Understanding and reassurance is needed in these circumstances to help her work through these background fears.
I so often say to a patient: “I want you to enjoy your pregnancy. It is such a special time in your life.” Comments from others and online information can detract from that enjoyment. I get upset when this happens. Comments made to pregnant women are usually negative. Negative comments from family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers and negative stories a pregnant woman reads or sees online can cause a pregnant woman to stress. She is already nervous and has her own fears. She needs only positive comments and reassurance. But sadly, so many people love to make negative comments about her pregnancy, her appearance (your baby is too big or too small, etc.), about what will probably happen to her in her labour and with her childbirth. They love to tell her their personal or someone else’s ‘horror’ childbirth stories (which may or may not be an accurate). So many women once they have had a baby consider themselves ‘the’ authority on all matters pertaining to pregnancy and childbirth. It is sad that so few people say positive comments to a woman when she is pregnant. She is nervous and doesn’t need others making her more nervous. I wish people would think about this and weigh their words before opening their mouths. They should consider what impact their comments will have on the pregnant woman. If they are not words of encouragement then they should not be said.
It is such a joy
I love my job. It is such a joy to support my patients on their pregnancy and childbirth journeys and to celebrate with then the birth of their new babies. It is wonderful to build relationships with patients that can continue after childbirth. It is such a joy to now have so many second-generation patients (viz. I delivered the patient or her husband/partner and now I am managing her pregnancy and delivering her baby).
If you ask any women about highlights of her life having children and becoming a mum is usually at the top of the list. Their pregnancy and childbirth experiences are so important to them. My goal is to make these experiences as good as possible, so they only have wonderful memories.
Becoming a mother has a very special place in a woman’s heart and is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. It is such an honour to be able to support my patients in achieving this lifelong dream