It was a few weeks before my firstborn was due, and suddenly utter 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 is wrapped around his neck?) to the relatively trivial (Should I or should I not get an enema?).
As I later found out, mothers-to-be often worry incessantly toward the end of pregnancy. After all, the fantasy of having a baby is fast becoming an actual event! But hard facts and helpful tips can really calm those jitters. So put up your feet and read on for some reassuring responses to common third-trimester worries."I'm concerned that my baby won't be born healthy."
According to Luis B. Curet, MD, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, more than 90 percent of pregnancies result in healthy babies. Those are pretty good odds. And problems involving a baby's anatomy or development are often found during the early stages of pregnancy, so the longer yours stays trouble-free, the more confident you can feel.
Nevertheless it's wise to recognize that certain complications, though rare, can pose a threat to your baby. One is preterm delivery, when a baby arrives before the 37th week of pregnancy. Premature babies are more likely than their full-term counterparts to have health issues; if they survive, they stand a good chance of suffering physical or developmental problems. While certain factors predispose a woman to premature delivery (such as smoking or carrying more than one baby), about half of all premature births involve no known risk factors.
The good news? Premature delivery can be stopped or delayed if a woman receives prompt medical attention at the first sign of early labor. If you experience contractions, fluid leaking from your vagina, lower back pain, abdominal pain, or bleeding, contact your doctor immediately. In addition, maintaining good habits during pregnancy, such as eating well, taking your prenatal vitamins, and keeping up with routine obstetrical visits, can help reduce your odds of delivering prematurely.