The Concerns Of Expecting Moms
Wednesday - May 09, 2007
Rose and Rick Sword
My parents were married for six years before they decided to take the big plunge into parenthood. Years spent as a married couple with no one to worry about but each other, and the fact that they were both only children made them hesitant about becoming a “mom” and “dad.” Lucky for me, they decided to give it at least one shot.
There isn’t a lot that I’ve been told about my mother’s pregnancy. I know that she craved pizza, got morning sickness only before 8 a.m. and that I got the hiccups at the same time every day. I know I poked and punched at her tummy from the inside, would have been named “Thomas” had I been a boy and, as I emerged into the world, I gave one final kick that broke Mommy’s tailbone. What an entrance.
But pregnancy is still very much a mystery to me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who is a little clueless about what pregnancy entails for the parents-to-be.
I’d imagine that for first-time parents, the reality of bringing a new life into the world can mean a host of emotions and thoughts never before felt.
In an effort to help understand what many of my first-time pregnant friends are going through, I enlisted the help of Rick Sword, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and member of the Hawaii Psychological Association, and his wife, Rose Ku’ulei Sword, a former school principal and psychology technician. In a two-part series, they help explore the top five concerns that both women and men face when becoming new parents.
Just in time for Mother’s Day, this week, The Young View looks at what pregnant mothers might be feeling.
1) Will my baby be normal? Rose says this is definitely the No. 1 concern of expectant mothers. “It’s a very scary thing,” she explains. “Women wonder, ‘Will there be 10 fingers and 10 toes, will my baby be normal as far as meeting the right criteria for being healthy?‘You have your hopes and dreams wrapped up in this child and your primary goal is to produce a healthy child.”
2) How will I handle the pain of childbirth?
Giving birth is really a very fearful thing, says Rose. “You’ve been told all your life how scary it is, how much pain there is and then half of the people you talk to tell you it’s no big deal.” This leaves a lot of room to wonder. Rose explains that the mother has to put all her trust in the doctors and nurses at the hospital and in their significant other that they are going to be there for them. This can be a difficult thing for some women to do.
3) Will my baby affect my relationship with my significant other?
“There’s a huge shift that occurs because the mother goes from being a daughter to a mother, and the focus of your relationship goes from your significant other to this baby,” explains Rose. Jealousy is a common feeling at this time because the mother is usually into the baby and the baby’s needs, and that takes a lot of time and attention away from the man.
4) Can I handle the stress? Having a baby can be one of the most stressful events in your life. Sleep deprivation adds to this stress, and for mothers who must return to work there is stress associated with leaving the baby in the hands of someone else and wondering if the baby will be OK. “Another big stress is over body image,” says Rose. “Women wonder ‘Will I ever look and feel the way I used to?’”
5) Will my child have a good life?
There is an inherent worry for women, explains Rose, regarding the overall well-being of the child as they grow up. “They wonder, ‘Will the baby get into preschool, will they be bullied, will the world be a safe place for my child?’” she says.
According to the Swords, there are ways for women to deal with the worries they have as expectant mothers.
First, Rick says, it is important to talk to other parents. “Talking to other people who have had babies and educating yourself about what other parents have gone through will help expectant parents gain a better grasp on their own feelings.”
Second, explains Rick, it’s essential to realize that your responses are normal. “You’re not the only one who worries,” he says. “Your fears are normal reactions to the abnormal stress of having a first child. This in itself is very helpful to know that the process, even though it’s strange, is very normal. Men and women have been going through this for thousands of years.”
Lastly, Rick says, is to find a way to manage your stress. “Some people think stress can’t be managed, but it can. He suggests a website he has developed specifically to help people learn to relax - visit http://www.lifehut.com, click on the “media” link and then follow the prompts to watch Sword’s free 20-minute relaxation videos.
It is extremely important for men to be compassionate, supportive and non-judgmental of their significant other, because, as you’ll see when The Young View explores the man’s point of view on this subject in June, both genders aren’t necessarily worried about the same things.
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