Pregnancy can be a very stressful time in a woman's life. Not only is her body about to go through an amazing transformation (Hello, Stretch Marks), but her mind is racing with a million and one questions.
Just think about it: For most other big events in our lives, we're taught how to do the task at hand. Take reading for example, no one just hands you a book and says, "Read". No, you're taught over the course of several months and have someone helping you along the way. Then, swimming, no one just throws in you a pool and says, "Swim". No way. For most big events, we're taught, or we have time to learn so that we finally really get it (or have time to make mistakes). It's not like we have Pregnancy 101 in school or anything...
For some women, pregnancy happens when they least expect it, or potentially when they're not even ready. Even for those who try for a long time and finally do get pregnant, they're still left with many unanswered questions.
1) What pre-natal vitamin is really good for me? Are the blue-colored ones from the pharmacy really all that great? Or, is it better to avoid those artificial colors and go with one free of those ingredients?
2) I have a milk intolerance: are my bones or my baby's bones going to suffer because I just can't do dairy?
3) What can/ can't I do for exercise? If I'm a runner, is it ok to keep going? What about keeping my heart rate or body temperature low? Is that still valid? I'm I'm a lifter, can I still lift heavy?
4) What can I do about these food cravings? I feel like I'm going crazy! What do I do?
5) How much weight gain is ok for me? I've heard some women gain only 20 lbs while other gained 40 and both had healthy babies?
6) Who should choose to help me with my medical care? An OBGYN? A midwife? What about a Doula?
7) When I have the baby, can I go back to work right away? Or, will that compromise my baby's development?
Then, there are other topics that come up along the way that you never thought you'd even have to think about. In reality, all you really want to do is just have a healthy, comfortable pregnancy and birth, then raise a child without excessive fear of disease, death or disability to him or her.
Some women don't have much support around them in terms of other women who have gone through the same thing. They may be able to ask a few of their friends with children, but since every pregnancy and every woman is different, it's hard to know what is best for you and your growing child.
Sure, there are guidelines from your doctor, but with the way the medical establishement is moving (pressures on doctors to take more and more patients just to keep their practices running), it's unlikely you'll get more that 20 minutes with him or her if you have other things to ponder. Also, if and when you do find a good midwife, will she be able to answer all your questions either?
Then, you want to help your husband/partner understand the rollercoaster of emotions you're going through, but sometimes, even though they try, they may not fully be able to comprehend (and that's understandable).
Overall, people may label pregnant women as "crazy", but one just needs to consider all the thoughts going through their heads at any one time. It's more than just themselves they need to think about now, it's another human life. So be kind if it seems like some woman close to you is a little nutty. They're only trying to determine what is good for themselves and their child in a very short time.
I'm learning that pregnancy is really such a wonderful time in life even despite all the thoughts racing through my head. Women have been having babies since the dawn of time and it's a process our bodies are built to do. We just need to trust that we can do the right thing, and with a little investigation, come up with credible answers to our nagging questions.
My thoughts are with all my pregnant friends right now as we enter this fabulous phase in our lives. Motherhood is next with all the joys and excitement it too will bring.