Pregnancy is a time of change and anticipation. For many women it is the culmination of careful planning and brings joy combined with anxious moments; for others it is an unwanted event that causes great worry and distress. And for some, complications arise.
Pregnant women need support. That support can be provided by her husband, partner, parents, other family members and friends. If you have previously been independent, it may be unfamiliar to you to need support, and asking for it may feel awkward. But allowing loved ones to support you may strengthen your relationship.
Having worked in hospitals, I think it is important for pregnant women to be proactive with their health professionals during pregnancy, and suggest the following:
- Talk to other people, ask questions about what worked for them with regard to doctors, midwifes and hospitals, but keep an open mind – your pregnancy is unique to you;
- It is a good idea to keep a book as a record of what is happening when you attend appointments and write down questions before each appointment;
- Take your partner or a support person to appointments, particularly if you have complications – another person may remember what was said if you become overwhelmed;
- If you develop a complication, be guided by your doctor. Information on the Internet can be inaccurate or out of date. Ask your doctor if she can recommend a reliable Internet site.
- Remember that health professionals are only as good as the information you give them. Write down your concerns and questions before appointments and don’t hesitate to ask questions, and more questions, if you don’t understand something.
- If you write a birth plan, try to make it flexible. Try to be open to what may happen in different scenarios.
- If you are one of the very small number of women who develops serious complications of pregnancy, try to be reassured that we have an excellent medical and hospital system in Australia, and you will receive first-class attention. Work with, not against, the professionals who are there to help you – they really want the best outcome for you as well. Try not to get ahead of yourself – take one step at a time, and don’t imagine the worst before it has happened.
If you find that your anxiety is increasing during your pregnancy, you should seek help. It is not healthy for you or your baby to be experiencing symptoms of anxiety over a prolonged period. Speak to your doctor, see the social worker at your hospital, or make an appointment to see a counsellor. You are not alone.