Women have been giving birth since the beginning of time, which makes it seem like pregnancy and parenthood should be the most joyful, natural experience ever. But the truth is, many women feel scared. Even terrified. Yet it’s hard to express these concerns out loud, for fear of being judged. And although there may not be a one-size-fits-all solution for this, sometimes it simply helps to know you’re not alone. I talked with 14 mothers, and they shared the one fear that haunted them most.
1.Trying, and failing.
“My husband and I started talking about having kids after we’d been married two years, and although I thought I was ready, I found myself stalling. It wasn’t because I was afraid of actual motherhood, but because I was worried about “trying” and not getting pregnant. I didn’t want our sex life, and entire existence, to become that. The unknown paralyzed me.” –Jen
2. Knowledge is not bliss.
“As a nurse, I’d seen all of the things that can go wrong with pregnancies and childbirth, and this completely freaked me out when it came time to having kids of my own. I could only focus on the potential problems. I wished I didn’t know so much.” –Samantha
3. The pain.
“This might sound superficial, but I don’t handle pain well, and every story I’d heard about childbirth was full of gory details and terribleness. I stressed about this throughout my entire pregnancy, and I was so embarrassed that I only told two close friends, not even my mom.” – Avery
4. Diseases and disorders.
“I’m a researching-type, so when I was pregnant, I checked out every website possible. I learned about all of these scary diseases. I couldn’t imagine raising a child with a lifelong genetic disorder or something. How would I handle this?” –Talia
5. A change in the birth plan.
“I was 100% set on doing a drug-free childbirth with a doula and everything, and so the thing that scared me most was that this wouldn’t be able to happen. I know like four women who ended up having emergency C-sections. I know this sounds very first-world. But it was my fear.” –Kayla
6. Sex after baby.
“Totally honestly? I had no sex drive while I was pregnant, and this only got worse as my stomach got huge and I felt our son kicking inside me. I worried I would never feel attractive, or attracted to my boyfriend, ever again.” –Veronica
7. Work/life balance.
“When I got pregnant, I’d been working for seven years as an accountant. I loved my job, and I didn’t want a baby to change this. I wanted to be a successful working mom. But I saw a lot of my friends waver once they had kids. Some of them became stay-at-home moms. Others stressed about leaving their kid for work. I wanted to still love my job, and have a child, but I wasn’t sure how this would look.” –Katherine
8. Bonding with baby.
“The truth is that I’ve never really been into babies. Like I don’t stop mothers on the street and fawn over their kids, and I’m not really even into my friend’s babies. Deep down, I’ve always wanted a child of my own child, but when I was pregnant with my daughter, I wondered, “What if I give birth, and the doctor puts her on my chest, and I don’t feel anything?” The possibility terrified me.” –Zoey
9. Postpartum depression.
“I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety since my late teens, so I was very familiar with the term “postpartum depression.” It almost made me not have kids, because I knew I would be at risk, and you hear these terrible stories of women who do horrifying things. The minute I found out I was pregnant I started discussing this with my doctor, and even though I knew there were medications that were safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, I still obsessed about it.” –Victoria
10. Single parenting.
“So anyway, my pregnancy was unexpected, to say the least. I wasn’t even in a serious relationship. This alone made me feel ashamed. But after a lot of thought, I decided to keep the baby, which meant I had to think about the raising a kid on my own. It’s terrifying, thinking of doing everything yourself. Something inside me said I could do it, but this didn’t mean I wasn’t full of self-doubt.” –Lanie
I had my son in my late thirties, and I’d already established a fulfilling life: career, travel, adventures. I did not want to give that up. I’d worked too hard for it! In the first weeks of my pregnancy, before I was showing, it was easy to tell myself nothing would change. But later on, as I grew larger, it was obvious things had. I looked and felt like a different person. Deep down, this really scared me. –Cheri
12. Body image.
“I’ve always been athletic, and my free time is all about surfing, running, cycling. It was really hard for me to give that stuff up in later pregnancy. I missed it, a lot. Especially because my body changed so much—I gained 50 pounds—and I kept hearing about how women never lose that last ten pounds of baby weight. I didn’t know if I’d ever be strong and lean again.” –Maddie
13. The boredom.
“I’m a driven person who’s efficient and great at multi-tasking, and I was super excited when I found out I was pregnant! But as I started reading, and buying stuff, and getting a nursery ready, I started worrying that I’d be bored with a newborn. Changing diapers? Lots of laundry? Bottles and formula? It all seemed like it might be very slow… and not exciting.” – Rachel
14. Lack of sleep.
“I love my sleep, and when I haven’t had enough, it’s a bad situation. I slept a million hours during my pregnancy to like stock up or something. But inside I was not at all looking forward to sleep deprivation. I worried I’d be a constantly bitchy new mom.” –Frankie