Pregnant, but secretly fretting about the health of your unborn baby or how you’re going to afford to even raise a child? Turns out, you are not alone. A new study reveals more than half of new parents experience anxiety and fear during pregnancy and early parenthood, but keep their worries to themselves.
The Healthdirect Australia study, released today, proves what most new parents already suspect – that pregnancy, delivery and bringing a new baby home is no walk in the park. New parents are often riding a roller coaster of emotions and the study reveals that most mums feel like they are riding the ups and down alone.
“Having a baby is a major life change – it can be tough going,” Healthdirect Australia chief Colin Seery tells Babyology. “This shows that many parents are struggling at one time or another.”
The national survey of 1011 new and expectant Australian parents found that 53 per cent have concerns during their pregnancy or early stages of parenthood that they feel unable to discuss with anyone.
In another surprise, almost half say they feel pressure to appear positive and excited about the pregnancy, even though they feel differently on the inside. This is even though most pregnancies were planned and both parents were initially excited to find out a baby was on the way.
The study shows 71 percent admit to needing significant emotional support, especially during the first six months of parenthood, while one-third of new parents hit rock bottom before asking for help. Mr Seery says it’s most concerning that 49 percent of new parents wait until they can’t cope before speaking out about their feelings.
Here are some of most common fears for new and expectant Australian parents.
Something being ‘wrong’ with the baby
49 percent of parents admit to being concerned that something is ‘wrong’ with their baby.
42 percent of women worry about miscarriage during pregnancy, especially in the early stages. And, sadly, miscarriage is all too common with one third of respondents reporting a miscarriage in the past. Of those that have experienced miscarriage, 68 percent found it difficult to talk about these feelings of loss and pain and only 32 percent sought counselling.
One third of parents have concerns about ‘coping financially’ with the new addition to their family.
The difference between expectation and reality
It’s not all newborn cuddles and kisses and many mums admit that the reality of life with a newborn takes a toll on them. More specifically, the lack of sleep, the unstructured sleeping pattern of baby, the feeding concerns, juggling care for other children and the recovery from birth are some of the challenges that cause the most stress for new parents.
Mr Seery says it’s important for parents to know that help is at hand and urges other new mums and dads not to wait so long to share their concerns or seek counselling. “As any mum or dad will tell you, pregnancy and childbirth can be a rollercoaster. We’d encourage new parents to seek help if they’re troubled, and for friends and family to keep checking in,” he says.
Healthdirect Australia is a government sponsored body that manages Pregnancy, Birth and Baby, a national support and information service for people with issues around pregnancy and birth, including pregnancy, stillbirth, neonatal and infant loss. There is a confidential 24-hour help line for parents who need assistance, 1800 882 436.
Did you have any concerns or fears during your pregnancy or those early days of parenthood with a new baby? Did you have someone to talk to? Share your own story below – we would love to hear from you.