Babies are beautiful, but sometimes they bring the unexpected. The excitement that comes with seeing those two pink lines for the first time can sometimes come with a wave of worry and that’s okay. It’s natural to have the fears of a first-time mom.
We’re here to help.
Even if you’ve been planning on having a baby for years, there can be a lot of uncertainty as to what to expect when you’re expecting for the first time.
Newton Medical Center polled 100 local moms about the top three fears they experienced upon finding out they were going to have a baby.
Here are the top three fears of a first-time mom:
SIDS and SUID
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained death of any child under the age of 1. It’s scary because even after an autopsy, there is no medical rhyme or reason for the death of the child. About 2,300 babies (in the U.S.) die of SIDS every year.
Risks of SIDS and SUID
Researchers aren’t sure exactly what causes SIDS, so it makes it difficult to prevent. However, there are studies that show that a child can have an increased risk of SIDS if:
- They sleep on their stomachs or sides instead of their backs
- Their parents smoke around them
- Their mother smoked while pregnant
- They sleep on too soft of a bed or surrounded by blankets and toys
- They get too hot while sleeping
- They were premature or had low birth weight
- Their mothers had little-to-no prenatal care
While the cause of SIDS is unknown, one theory is that the baby may have an underlying brain issue in which they aren’t able to wake themselves up when asleep. This is important because the brain tells the baby to wake up when oxygen levels are low.
Normal children awake when they need to reposition themselves to get more oxygen, but babies who suffer from SIDS may not. This means they could have high carbon-dioxide levels in their blood.
Sudden Unexpected Infant death (SUID) is a death of an infant less than 1 year of age that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly. In this case a cause can be determined and is sometimes related to accidental suffocation while sleeping.
The best way to prevent SIDS and SUID events is:
- Practice the ABCs of Safe sleep. For every sleep baby should be
- Alone in the crib or bassinet
- On their Back
- In a clutter free Crib
- The crib or bassinet should have nothing but a tight fitting fitted sheet, this includes no bumpers!
- Baby should not have any loose blankets in the crib. If baby needs an additional layer, a sleep sack or wearable blanket is the best choice. It is best to avoid thick fabrics to keep baby from overheating.
- Once your baby is dismissed from the hospital they do not need a hat to maintain their temperature while sleeping. A hat can accidentally cover baby’s face an cause a hazard.
- Do not put any pillows, stuffed animals, or anything else in the crib
- Keep the room cool and comfortable, so the baby doesn’t get too hot, a good rule of thumb is that baby is comfortable in 1 layer more than you are comfortable in.
- Do not smoke while you’re pregnant or after baby is born. It is important to avoid smoking in the home environment. Smoke that has settled on surfaces and in fabrics continues to pose a risk to baby.
- Breastfeed as long as possible
- Using a pacifier to put baby to sleep can also reduce baby’s risk. This can be done once breastfeeding is well established (usually 3-4 weeks).
SIDS is most likely to affect newborns who are not yet able to roll over and children between the ages of 1 and 4 months. It’s most common to occur during the fall and winter. Boys are more at risk than girls.
A great resource for more information is from the Kansas Infant Death and SIDS Network (KIDS).
Another fear of a first-time mom has to do with breastfeeding. Some moms have also said they felt a lot of pressure and anxiety around breastfeeding their babies. Breastmilk comes with all the nutrients a child needs for at least the first 6 months of his or her life. The pressure of being the sole provider of food for another person can be overwhelming for some moms, especially those who are doing it for the first time.
NMC offers licensed lactation consultants who can help you on your breastfeeding journey. Before you deliver in our family birth center, you can schedule a prenatal visit to learn what to expect while you are in the hospital. Here, you can ask any questions about breastfeeding and learn how to be successful.
While you’re at the hospital, our lactation consultants will try to see each patient during their stay. They will help you learn hunger cues from your baby as well as the proper way for baby to latch. Since positioning is key for both mom and baby, finding the most comfortable way to feed is crucial in the success of nursing.
After you leave, if you have any concerns about whether baby is getting enough milk or have questions about breastfeeding, you can make an appointment to visit with one of our lactation consultants.
In this visit, they will weigh baby before and after feeding to ensure he or she is gaining weight. They can also give you advice as to how to increase and maintain your supply if you’re worried baby isn’t getting enough.
If you’d like to speak with a certified lactation consultant, call (316) 804-6177 to set up an appointment.
Postpartum depression and baby blues
The third fear of a first-time mom is worrying about whether postpartum depression or baby blues will show up after you give birth. The hormone shift from pregnancy to birth can be a lot for some moms to handle. Many hear horror stories of postpartum depression and often worry they might experience it after their baby is born.
Postpartum depression is different than “baby blues.” Baby Blues is felt by nearly all women after pregnancy and includes any feelings of worry, sadness or tiredness after giving birth. Those symptoms resolve themselves after a few days.
As many as 1 in 8 women may experience postpartum depression. Symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Feeling anxious or worried
- Feeling hopeless or sad
- Feeling worthless or helpless
- Being irritable or feeling angry
- Crying more than usual
- Feeling disconnected from your baby
- Worrying you could hurt the baby
- Feeling guilty about not being a good mom
- Doubting your ability to take care of your baby
Having a strong support system can help ease the effects of having baby blues or postpartum depression. Getting help from family members to watch the baby while you rest or finding moments to yourself can help you recharge.
Know and understand that you are a good mom and that your baby loves you just the way you are. Everything will usually get easier once you adjust to life with your little one.
If you think you’re suffering from postpartum depression, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Make an appointment and talk about your options.
Just because you may have postpartum depression with one child doesn’t mean you’ll have it with another. Every pregnancy is different, as is every birth, and NMC is here to support you along the way.
Your health is our focus.