Yesterday I had a heart to heart talk with one of my friends who is expecting. A Type A personality, she worries constantly about everything. She has been focused on a very particular outcome and thus far, her pregnancy hasn't been a happy experience. Each worry she has focused on has occurred throughout her pregnancy. For example, she obsessed for days about first trimester bleeding before she ever had any problems. Eventually, she began to bleed for several weeks. She agonized over why she didn’t have morning sickness- was there something wrong with her? Her obstetrician kept reassuring her. Suddenly, she was hit with waves of nausea and vomiting. I have seen this play out with my patients repetitively. I wondered- was this a self-induced prophecy? Perhaps. The second question I wondered- when complications do occur, how does this effect her ability to cope?
Do we bring to ourselves what we worry about? Researchers continue to investigate the effects of positive thinking on health.
There are definite health benefits that positive thinking may provide. Such things as better coping skills during times of stress, better physical and emotional well-being, less colds, lower rates of depression, and an increased life span all have been associated with positive thinking. Researchers are unsure of why positive thinkers reap these health benefits. Perhaps they tend to engage in healthier lifestyles? Or they theorize that it enables us to manage stress more effectively- thus reducing the negative health effects of stress on your body.
As an obstetrician and a woman, I believe that pregnancy is a journey and state of mind... not a medical disorder. It's important for patients to hope for the best and the job of your provider (whether it is a physician or nurse midwife) is to monitor for possible complications and deal with them appropriately. This is where the power of positive thinking comes in. This is probably where spirtituality and faith enter in as well. So for the few times that something unexpected does happen... your coping skills will help you to overcome whatever hurdle life presents you.