Your top five fears sorted!

Freaking out about your pregnancy and birth is normal' we talk to the experts to help allay your most common fears.

Nothing beats the joy that hits when you first see those two blue lines. But almost as quickly, fears creep in: about your baby, your relationship, your ability to breastfeed or wear a bikini ever again, and of course childbirth! But the good news is there's usually nothing to worry about.

1: 'Childbirth is going to be torture!'
It's no wonder many women fear childbirth who hasn't heard the horror stories about 48-hour labours, fourth-degree tears and the old 'pooing out a watermelon' analogy! But you can prepare yourself.

Fear not
According to Susan Ross, midwife and author of Birth Right, the best way to tackle this fear is to find an appropriate caregiver. 'Go and visit private and public hospitals, birth centres, delivery suites and ask questions,' she suggests.

Susan also recommends hiring a doula. 'Research shows that if you have a doula you have a much less of a chance of having any medical intervention.' She's also found hypnobirthing to a great fear-fighting strategy. Still not convinced? Ask your caregiver about pain relief options now, so you're not asking questions when you're in the thick of it.

2: 'My baby is sick or going to die'
'This is a normal fear we all have,' assures Susan. But thankfully, while there are never any guarantees, the odds are in your favour that your baby will be perfectly healthy. Modern research has also enabled us raise the chances of having a fighting fit bub.

Fear not
Put your mind at ease by keeping healthy and eating the right foods, and pop folic acid supplements they reduce the chance of neural tube defects by up to 70%. If having a glass of wine leaves you feeling stressed out about harming your baby, opt for a soft drink instead. If you're not sure what's safe and what's not, talk to your care provider.

3: 'Our relationship will never be the same'
There'd be few parents out there who would say having a baby has had no impact on their relationship, so this isn't without basis. But Susan says it's important to remember it's just going to be different. 'It's not necessarily going to be better or worse. It's just going to change,' she says.

Fear not
Susan suggests talking to a parenting educator about your concerns; it's also important to talk to your partner he's probably panicking as much as you! If you're both prepared for changes, you'll be able to ride through the rocky times together and hopefully come out with an even stronger bond.

4: 'I'll never be able to breastfeed'
Up until now your breasts' main function may have been to look good and entertain your lover, but now they're preparing themselves for their real purpose (feeding!) and this may have you a little concerned.

Fear not
'The most common thing I hear from women who've just given birth is, 'Nobody told me about the breastfeeding stuff','' says Susan. 'It's important to talk to your caregiver about what it's going to be like in those first few days the attachment, soreness and engorgement. Don't worry, it's not going to be like that for the rest of your life. You also really need to talk about how to deal with all the conflicting advice you'll receive.'

5: 'My body is ruined forever'
It's exciting when the first sign of your 'bump' emerges, but as the months carry on you may start to worry that your growing belly (and boobs, bottom and other bits!) will never be the same again.

Fear not
This is not a time to start dieting, so eat healthily and try to enjoy your changing shape instead. But if your growing size is really bothering you, start thinking about your post-baby exercise plan. Speak to other mums in your antenatal group about getting together once your baby is here to go for regular walks, or join a mums and bubs exercise class together.

Help for you
Relationships Australia
Don't be afraid to seek help if you and your partner are having relationship problems: relationships.com.au

Beyond Blue
If your anxieties are really getting to you, you need to speak to someone: beyondblue.org.au

Australian Breastfeeding Association
The ABA is a great resource for any breastfeeding concerns, even before bub has arrived: breastfeeding.asn.au

12:0AM, Jul 6th 2009

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