3 Fears of First-Time Mothers (and How to Overcome Them)

mother holding newborn baby, fears of first time mothers

3 Fears of First-Time Mothers (and How to Overcome Them)

Whether you just had a positive pregnancy test, you recently gave birth to your baby, or you are anywhere in between on your pregnancy journey, it can be difficult not to give in to worry. Having a baby brings so much joy, but it’s easy to also let your fears run wild with all the what-ifs.

As a first-time mom myself, I know there is so much for you to now think about. You want your baby to be healthy, you want to make sure you have your finances in order to support a family, you want to know what car seat is truly the safest, where you should give birth, and is daycare or a nanny a better choice? Add these to the current concerns about COVID-19 and you could easily spend your days wrapped up in a tightly wound ball of anxiety.

But let me assure you right now: that’s not what God has for you. If you’re like me, it’s tempting to think that worrying about the what-ifs may seem to assuage some of your fears because at least you’ve considered the worst case scenario, but in truth, it detracts from your peace of mind and soul. The reality is that fear and worry are a way for us to try to control a situation that may be largely out of our hands.

Of course, trusting God and his plan is easier said than done, but identifying some common fears with which many first-time mothers struggle and then combatting these fears with truth can work wonders to ease anxiety, restore peace, and allow you to focus instead on the joy of the new life you are bringing or have brought into the world.

Here are three common fears you may be struggling with as a first-time mom:

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parents holding baby

1. What if I don’t bond immediately with my baby?

There is a perception many of us have, whether from Hollywood, society in general, or our own family and friends, that the moment we get a positive pregnancy test or see our baby for the first time we will feel a deep, instantaneous bond. For many women, that is the case, and that’s wonderful. But for some women it is not, and that is completely okay. Your baby is related to you and you carry them for nine months, but you can’t get to know your baby in most of the ways you get to know anyone else in your life. Developing any relationship takes time, and as you get to know your baby more and the person God created them to be, that bond will grow.

I am currently well into my second trimester with my first pregnancy. My bond with my little one is growing stronger every day, but although it was a wild feeling to get that positive pregnancy test several months ago, it mostly felt surreal. Except for that extra line, there was no tangible sign that I was pregnant, which made it difficult to feel any sort of bond with my baby, but now that we have found out the gender and I can feel him moving daily, I know our bond is growing.

Some things you can do to strengthen your bond with your baby, whether in utero or not, is to sing to them, talk to them (about practically anything—I share with my baby things about the weather, about things I’m looking forward to doing with him when he is older, about what I am working on at the moment), and pray for them.

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baby in hospital

2. What if my birth doesn’t go according to plan?

This is a really tough fear to let go of, and one I definitely struggle with a lot. I had ideas for how I wanted my first pregnancy, labor, and birth to go long before I became pregnant, so the thought that I may need to shift my priorities and compromise, or let go of my ideal plan in order to ensure I and my baby are safe is a very unwelcome thought. How do you hold your ideal plan and yet at the same time leave room in your heart for necessary changes? This is a balance for which there is no easy answer. However, there are a couple things that may help you as they have helped me.

A. Be informed. Look into the options. There is so much information out there that it can be overwhelming. I suggest finding a mom whose birth story inspires you or whom you admire and ask her about it—why did she decide to choose this hospital or that one, what resources did she rely on, what role did other support people (husband, doula, other family members) have in the birth? Once you establish a basis of knowledge, you will feel more equipped to address anything out of the ordinary and you will know what kinds of questions you can and should ask your doctor or midwife. There are also many great books and podcasts you can use as resources. I recommend Nurture by Erica Chidi Cohen, The Mama Natural by Genevieve Howland, or the Pregnancy Podcast hosted by Vanessa Merten.

B. Make birth affirmations a part of your daily routine. I’m only in the second trimester, but us worriers know that anxiety is capable of looking far into the future. Because of this, I have found simple birth affirmations to be a huge help. A few of my favorites are: “I am perfectly designed to birth my baby,” “My baby and I deserve a positive birthing experience,” and “I accept and bless the path by which this baby comes to us.” You can find these and many more birth affirmations in the book Birth Affirmations by Susan Singer, or a quick Google search on birth affirmations will work as well.

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new mother holding baby

3. Am I doing the right thing for my baby?

As a first-time mom, the myriad restrictions and recommendations you will encounter the moment you learn you’re pregnant can be daunting. Suddenly you are supposed to alter your diet and are told not to eat deli meat, sushi, unpasteurized cheese, and a host of other dos and don’ts. If you Google many food or beverage items, you can likely find some article claiming it is unsafe for you to consume in pregnancy. First of all, I don’t recommend spending much time Googling these kinds of things because it will only increase your anxiety. Instead, ask your healthcare provider for a list of things they recommend you do and don’t eat.

Follow this list and also listen to your body. Also, you should know that if you happen to consume something that you later find out was on the “no” list, you don’t need to panic. God is protecting your baby, and neither he nor your doctor or midwife expects you to be omniscient. Whether this thought of “Am I doing the right thing for my baby?” comes up in your diet, what prenatal vitamins you choose, what exercise regimen you adhere to, where you decide to give birth, or the choices you make for your baby after they are born, know that God has chosen you to be the perfect mom for your baby. You will not always be perfect, but you can trust that you are best suited to care for your baby.

Lastly, I would encourage you to invite others who are a positive influence into your pregnancy and parenting journey. This should certainly include your partner, but can also include a birth doula, family members, friends, coworkers, a support group—whoever God has put in your life. Ask other women about their experiences being a mom—about their struggles and the hard decisions they have had to make. Even though your story won’t parallel theirs exactly, if you ask several people, you will likely be able to glean bits of wisdom from these different experiences that you can apply to your own journey as a mother.

Beyond all of this, mama—enjoy the journey. God has blessed you with a baby and you get to see the amazing things your body is capable of and experience an incredible bond. Blessings to you, wherever you are on that journey!

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Veronica Olson wrote her first poem at age seven and went on to study English in college, focusing on 18th century literature. When she is not listening to baseball games, enjoying the outdoors, or reading, she can be found mostly in Richmond, VA writing primarily about nature, nostalgia, faith, family, and Jane Austen.