I find that most women, to some extent, have a fear of being pregnant.
This is often because pregnancy is something new, they have no experience and they are not in control over it to a large extent. So fear can be regarded as a normal reaction.
But as well a woman’s fear can be compounded by negative input from other women talking about their own negative birth experiences (often with a little bit of embellishment), by advice from other women (which is often not founded in truth), by the media and by internet searches.
Fear can also be a consequent of a previous bad birth experience. I have had patients who have been so emotionally traumatised by a previous birth experience that it has taken years for them to have enough courage to become pregnant again.
Fear will often be heightened if there is a history of miscarriage or subfertility, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Fear can also sadly be the consequence of a termination of pregnancy in the past. Often a pregnant woman with this history has ongoing guilt and the emotions that ‘I do not deserve a good outcome’ or ‘I will be punished for what I did’ are paramount. Then there is the woman who doesn’t have such history but has a negative thought pattern where she also believes ‘she does not deserve a good pregnancy outcome’ and ‘something bad has to happen’.
There are also those who are worriers by nature or who have a history of anxiety and so can be extra anxious in pregnancy.
I discuss all this with a patient at the first antenatal visit and advise that I want her to enjoy her pregnancy. After all having baby is one of the most important occasions in a woman’s life.