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New sources of stress impact modern moms-to-be

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — On this Mother’s Day week, KTTC is taking a moment to recognize moms and moms-to-be, as well as the stresses they’re facing in 2019.

A lot has remained the same, but experts and expectant mothers shared their thoughts with First-Time Mom Caitlin Alexander on what’s changed over the years.

“You want to share the news, but you don’t always want to share it right away, because as we all know with pregnancy, there’s all kinds of surprises,” said mother-to-be Courtney Andrews.

She is due with a baby girl in August.

Between caution for any pregnancy surprises and a sensitivity for others having a difficult time starting their families, Andrews and her husband didn’t post a social media announcement until about halfway through pregnancy.

Pregnancy in this day and age means a world wide web of possibilities, but that can also mean some stress.

There are many expectations surrounding ways of announcing one’s news and sharing one’s progress online.

Many expectant mothers feel the pressure of announcing their news online in creative ways.

“I think you can put a lot of pressure on yourself from social media and from Pinterest, and obviously, everyone puts their best face forward on, you know, social media. But there’s not enough time in the day to work, to work out, to cook healthy meals, to make custom everything for your nursery,” admitted Andrews.

Laborist Dr. Margaret Dow with Mayo Clinic’s OBGYN Department agrees.

Dr. Margaret Dow explains some modern day stresses in pregnancy.

She notes two major sources of stress many of today’s pregnant women experience that perhaps their mothers didn’t.

First, women are bombarded with the visual images of what a healthy pregnancy looks like on social media.

“The gender reveal issue has become a whole thing. It’s kind of like prom posters. When we do gender reveals now, everybody has to throw a party. So, being sure that you have the perfect ultrasound and that absolute identification of the gender. Genetic testing by blood work is sort of a seminal part of pregnancy now,” said Dr. Dow.

The second major difference she points out is having limitless information available at one’s fingertips.

“There’s so many more possibilities for alarm. In the olden days, you had a little bit of spotting, you call your doctor’s office, they tell you it’s okay or they tell you you need to come in, and that’s done. These days, you have a little bit of spotting, and you look on the internet, and it gives you at least five differential diagnoses that all have horrible outcomes for your pregnancy,” she said.

Dr. Dow served as Chief Editor for the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. She believes knowledge is power, but it’s not all good information out there.

“Our job is to figure out how to assuage their fears from what they’ve learned, that might not be something that applies to them,” she explained.

She said as a general rule of thumb, websites that are “.org” can often offer better information than other sites.

Andrews said she has not gone down the dark hole of researching medical concerns online, but she said looking up baby products is another story.

“You feel like you just have to put in all the research and find the best thing for your baby, and for the most part, most products are going to be good for baby. They’re going to be safe. But you can spend hours and hours and hours,” Andrews said.

Expectant mothers may also experience stress from the workplace and navigating maternity leave.

Extreme levels of stress can impact pregnancies.

An issue brief from March of Dimes looked at data from 2009 and 2010.

It states,”Women who experience high levels of stress during pregnancy have 25-60 percent higher risk for preterm delivery, even after accounting for the effects of other established risk factors, compared to women with low levels of stress.”

Thankfully, for Andrews and so many other moms-to-be, any stress they experience is mild.

While there is a lot to think about and do, there is even more to celebrate.

“The birth is a very important part, but it’s just the first step,” said Dr. Dow.

KTTC is preparing to thank moms and moms-to-be with a special promotion. Stay tuned to KTTC for details.

When discussing pregnancy-related stress, it is important to note the CDC reports about six percent of married women aged 15 to 44 in the U.S. are unable to get pregnant after a year of trying.

Infertility is a common problem, but there is help available for families.

Caitlin Alexander

Caitlin Alexander

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