It was a few weeks before my firstborn was due -- and suddenly full-fledged panic set in. By night, I would dream that I forgot to feed the baby. By day, I would obsess about every aspect of childbirth, from the serious (What if the cord wraps around his neck?) to the relatively trivial (Should I get an enema?).
Mothers-to-be often worry incessantly as they approach the end of pregnancy, but hard facts and helpful tips can calm those eleventh-hour jitters. So take off your shoes, raise your feet, and read on for some reassuring responses to common concerns.Will My Baby Be Healthy?
Don't worry, a healthy baby is by far the rule, rather than the exception. According to Luis B. Curet, MD, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of New Mexico, more than 90 percent of pregnancies result in perfectly healthy babies.
Plus, problems involving a baby's anatomy or development are often identified early, so the longer your pregnancy stays trouble free, the more confident you can feel.
Nevertheless, it's wise to recognize that certain health complications, though rare, can occur. One is preterm labor, which can lead to premature delivery, or delivery before the 37th week of pregnancy, resulting in a birth weight of less than 5 1/2 pounds. While certain factors predispose a woman to premature delivery, such as carrying more than one baby or smoking cigarettes, about half of all premature births involve no known risk factors.
The good news is that premature delivery can sometimes be stopped or delayed if a woman receives prompt medical attention at the first sign of early labor. For this reason, it pays to follow general precautions, such as keeping up with routine office visits and contacting your doctor at once if you experience contractions, pelvic pressure, bleeding, or fever.