7. Being a vegan or vegetarian.
No, you don’t have to eat meat and dairy — you can be vegan or vegetarian and have a perfectly healthy pregnancy. In fact, I was vegetarian for three of my four pregnancies.
Just make sure your diet includes plenty of vegetarian protein sources (legumes, beans, nuts, and seeds), calcium (organic tofu, almonds, tahini, and green leafy veggies), and iron (legumes, green veggies, red beans, dried apricots, and raisins). And if you're vegan, make sure to take a B-12 supplement.
Work with your midwife or an integrative nutritionist who is pregnancy-savvy to make sure you’re meeting your prenatal nutritional needs.
8. Normal pregnancy symptoms.
Pregnancy brings with it some quirky symptoms, including nausea, increased urination, round ligament pain, breast tenderness, changes in your sense of smell and taste, sleep disturbances, mood changes, and many more. Knowing what’s normal — and what’s not — can make a huge difference in letting go of unnecessary worries.
There aren’t too many symptoms to worry about, so make sure to talk with your midwife or doctor about those. You can also learn about natural solutions for common symptoms in my book, The Natural Pregnancy Book.
9. What labor will be like.
Labor can't be controlled. All you can do is set a destination on your GPS, prepare well for the journey, and then move gracefully through any obstacles on the way.
You can’t force a homebirth, vaginal birth, unmedicated birth, or a perfect story. And worrying about it is not going to get you there.
The best thing you can do is prepare for labor. Take childbirth classes and read books that are supporting of the kind of birth you hope to have. (I recommend Spiritual Midwifery and Birthing From Within to start.) You can also take a hypnobirthing class to give you mind-body skills that can help.
If something comes up that requires you to reroute your plans — for example, a medical reason to have a cesarean — it’s totally appropriate to grieve. But be gentle with yourself and just make sure you’re in good hands. It’s all good.
OK, truth be told, the most common fear that women experience is probably fear of death — our own, our baby’s, or our partner's.
Fear of our own death stems from the intense uncertainty of the process of birth, compounded by the historical risks, magnified by movies in which birth is depicted as dangerous and even life-threatening. That can make birth feel really terrifying.
The reality is that there is an infinitesimally low risk of dying in childbirth for healthy women in the U.S. There's also a very low infant mortality rate.
Remind yourself that it’s normal to have such thoughts. And then have an affirmation or meditation you can use to transform the fear. Talk your worries out loud with your midwife or other women, or write them down in a journal. If you're severely plagued by worry or anxiety, it's important to talk to a prenatal mental health professional.
11. What other people think.
The hard fact is that women can be really judgmental with one another around pregnancy and parenthood choices.
I’ve had many wonderful women tell me they were kicked out of natural mom online groups because they had an epidural or needed a C-section. My response? What other people think is not your worry.
How you do your pregnancy, birth, and parenting is your business alone. If you’re worrying about what other people think, please, stop right now — because it will keep you from making the choices that are best for you and your baby.
And when you make the choices that are right for you, your family and friends will get on board, and you’ll find the right mommy groups for yourself too!