More than 4 million babies are born in this country each year, and the vast majority arrive healthy and full-term. But that doesn't stop moms-to-be from worrying about, well, about almost everything when it comes to their developing baby. Could that cocktail you sipped before you knew you were pregnant cause a birth defect? What about that antibiotic you used? Might job stress or anxiety about money cause preterm labor? Will you completely freak during childbirth, ripping off the fetal heart monitor, tearing out your IV, and sending labor and delivery nurses running for cover? The answer, in most cases: highly unlikely. Read on for even more reassuring news about your biggest pregnancy and childbirth fears.
The Worry: Your baby will have a birth defect
Seventy-eight percent of pregnant women rated birth defects as their number-one concern, according to a recent March of Dimes survey. Yet the organization reports that less than 4 percent of babies will have any form of birth defect -- and most of those problems won't be life threatening. "The two most common structural defects are a cleft lip and cleft palate, which are correctable with surgery," notes Diane Ashton, M.D., the deputy medical director of the national office of the March of Dimes, in White Plains, New York.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The risk of some birth defects, such as spina bifida, can be significantly decreased by taking 400mg of folic acid per day during pregnancy, says Dr. Ashton. Two things that increase your risk of delivering a baby with any birth defect: advanced maternal age and genetics. So if you're over 35 or have a family history of certain birth defects, check with your doc about getting extra testing and scans during pregnancy.