updated 7/26/2005 11:24:00 AM ET 2005-07-26T15:24:00

In the hundreds of e-mails we received about our recent series titled "Maternity Madness: A nerve-racking nine months," many readers agreed there is a lot of stress surrounding pregnancy nowadays — much of it unnecessary, they said, but some of it well warranted.

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"Where was this article when I was pregnant?" asked Pamela Schlegel of Oklahoma City, Okla., in response to "The pregnancy panic attack."

"Reading all the pregnancy books and magazines made me afraid to drink cola or eat a cooked hot dog," she wrote.

But other women wrote in saying that the risks of miscarriage and stillbirth are real, and pregnant women should be worried about them. "I just suffered my second miscarriage and I fully intend to be anxious and concerned when I do get pregnant again," said Georgette Welch of the U.K.

In response to our story about childbirthing controversies , readers said all the choices can be confusing and overwhelming, particularly for first-time moms. But as Lori Mancino of Hermitage, Pa., noted, it's important to keep your eye on the prize: "It didn't matter one way or the other how my child came into this world. It was just important he came."

Expectant dads and seasoned fathers alike wrote to us in response to our piece on a dad's delivery-room anxieties. Kurt Gillon of Chicago, who's expecting his first child in a month, thanked the author for a good laugh — a little comic relief that we assume is probably much-needed about now.

And our story on women having babies solo through sperm donation was met with strong reaction both in favor of and against the practice. Some people said they didn't think it was fair to bring a child into the world without a father. But Regina Mixon of Powder Springs, Ga., said the article helped her make up her mind about having a child on her own: "My husband died six years ago after only 3 1/2 months of marriage, and I have not found anyone that I would want to spend my life with since, but I want children and this story has helped me to make [my] mind up."

Here's a sampling of our reader mail for each story in the series:

The pregnancy panic attack

Thank goodness! Finally, someone else is saying what I've been saying for years. I'm having my fifth child. In each of the pregnancies, I was warned...with tremendous "don't do" lists...Moms need to relax...has anyone mentioned all the problems stress can cause to the fetus? --Anyce LaBouliere, San Marcos, Texas

I had to laugh when I read your article as it is sooo true. I also was on the phone with the doc panicked that I had no negative symptoms of pregnancy, no morning sickness, etc., and yes, I too found the term "blighted ovum." --Lisa Walker, Thornwood N.Y.

I love everything pregnancy-related! It is a joy and a pleasure, as well as a privilege, to be able to bring a beautiful little creature, an extension of your love, into the world. I love the big belly, the boobs, the hips, the anticipation, the special attention, the prenatal classes, the hot flashes, the peeing every hour on the hour while trying to sleep. I love it all. Mostly, the end result: a beautiful, wonderful little baby. --Stacey Bryan, Miami

My first pregnancy ended with a missed miscarriage at 12 weeks, so obviously there are many women out there who have the RIGHT to be anxious and concerned. I just suffered my second miscarriage and I fully intend to be anxious and concerned when I do get pregnant again. -- Georgette Welch, U.K.

After practicing obstetrics for 30 years, I've heard it all. The problem is that today ... the malpractice situation is so bad that obstetricians will try to cover all bases and this scare patients. If we don't tell the patient about something we can get sued for "Lack of Informed Consent" and we must document everything we tell the patient. The rates for malpractice insurance is in the triple figures in many cases and many obstetricians are stopping obstetrics. -- Dr. Howard Groder, Nutley, N.J.

I am 30 weeks pregnant, and I realized after reading this article that I am an anxiety freak. I am a spaz by nature, and now that I am pregnant, my own father rolls his eyes at how I worry about every little detail. And my husband is the same as me; sometimes he is the one that shows more anxiety about if this is OK for the baby, and don't do that, and stay away from this. -- Ana Medero, Lebanon, Tenn.

True enough, plenty of women do have totally uneventful pregnancy -- thank goodness! ... But having had a baby born at 27 weeks and seen the inside of an NICU for 39 days, I will never have that opportunity to be naive again. My daughter wasn't lucky enough to come home from the NICU. She died three years ago and I miss her every single day. My next pregnancy resulted in me being on strict bed rest from 28 weeks on. Can you even imagine the horror going through my mind as I prayed that I would get to bring my baby home alive? Fortunately, I was able to bring a healthy baby home, but the emotional scars will be with me forever. Any woman who is pregnant should have some concern. Preterm births are on the rise here in the United States. Women need to be aware of the symptoms, and be in tune with their bodies. I did not have any of the risk factors when I lost my daughter. I never believed it could happen to me. -- Jill Lear, Armada, Mich.

Where was this article when I was pregnant? Reading all the pregnancy books and magazines made me afraid to drink cola or eat a cooked hot dog. -- Pamela Schlegel, Oklahoma City, Okla.

I must have been the living example of "ignorance is bliss." I worried about nothing, felt good, no morning sickness, a few weeks of evening queasiness, and craved rather ordinary things like cantaloupe and nachos. Now my husband stressed out, but that is just the way he is. I had three uneventful pregnancies and only my last one had to be induced. All were born with out pain meds and all were over 8 pounds. Now ask me about a house with three teenage girls and then we can talk STRESS. -- Sandi Stafford, Radford, Va.

What's the best way to have a baby?

I had to have a C-section because I labored all day and was at 1 cm and was 10 days past my due date. I had no problems at all. I don't understand the big debate on what a women wants when it comes to delivery and the experience. For me, the important decisions are how you take care of your child. It didn't matter one way or the other how my child came into this world. It was just important he came. -- Lori Mancino, Hermitage, Pa.

I have given birth to three children. My first was a vaginal birth that ended with forceps due to the baby's position and I had an episiotomy. My second was a quick vaginal birth with an epidural and my last baby was over 10 pounds and breech so he was delivered by a scheduled C-section. Each of my children's births was completely different from the other yet the outcome was the same -- a healthy baby. When it comes right down to it, that is what matters most. Women should keep an open mind about what can happen during childbirth and be prepared for anything. --Jennifer Hill, Edmond, Okla.

The majority of time vaginal deliveries go fine but there are a small percentage of cases where catastrophic things may occur, resulting in significant harm to mother or fetus, when deliveries do not happen in the hospital setting...Medicine has advanced, we know more and can do more now and so people have higher expectations and delivering a baby and the risks are trivialized because the mortality and morbidity present years ago are not as prevalent. Combine that with an attitude in this country to sue, sue, sue if something goes wrong and you can understand the reticence from the medical community to encourage alternative deliveries. Everybody's all about this "love fest" of "natural" childbirth at home until it's your baby who has the problem and ends up severely mentally handicapped ... or in some form of vegetative state and then watch the blame get passed and the only one pleased with the experience is the attorney who gets his millions of dollars out of the settlement or judgement. Frankly, I love what I do, I am amazed by the miracle of childbirth and I try to make it as warm and fuzzy as I can, but I do it in a safe environment and will continue to do so....Last time I checked, no matter where, labor ensues, patients progress and deliver from the vagina in the majority of cases, the placenta delivers, the uterus contracts all sounds pretty natural to me. --Dr. Matthew A. Nash, Park Ridge, Ill.

Pregnant — and worried about weight

I really liked your article about women who worry over gaining weight during pregnancy. I think these women have a self-esteem problem to begin with and it is making the enjoyable transformation a nightmare. I always thought when I got pregnant that it was my right to indulged a little and enjoy the changes in my body, not lose my sanity over it. I loved getting that big belly! I took care of myself while pregnant and I have always exercised and tried to eat right and I still do, but there is such a thing about worrying too much and exercising to much, especially when your pregnant. I hope these women have consulted their physicians before during anything too strenuous. -- Melissa Dawson

A dad's delivery-room anxieties

Great article. We are expecting our first child in 4 weeks...Thanks for making me laugh. --Kurt Gillon, Chicago

THANK YOU! I have been a labor and delivery nurse for 27 years, and have felt the same magic as you described at each and every birth that I have been privileged to attend. So far, I have never been disenchanted or bored with my chosen profession, no matter what circumstances have arisen. It was especially generous of you to recognize the nurse who took care of your wife as one who made a difference in your experience. Some people are not as articulate as you are, but I have seen the gratitude in their eyes, as they fill with tears of the joy of discovering a new life ... at those moments I am glad that I made the choice that I did. Again, thank you, and enjoy your precious new daughter. -- Mary Ann Haak

I think every man has the same fear as you did. And even though we women act as if we do not see the anxiety in you, we do. What a great story you have shared with the world. -- Jennifer Bullock, Las Vegas

My youngest child is going to be 16 next month -- and there are two more before him... Thanks for sharing your anxiety and joy -- both of which I remember all so well. So are you getting much sleep these days? -- Scott Kenney, Lawrenceville, N.J.

With no Mr. Right in sight, time for plan B

I'm 39, single, no prospective partner in sight and my maternal clock is ticking loudly. I'm completely in favor of having a child solo. Pursuing a career and not motherhood when I was in my 20's and 30's was my No. 1 priority. Now that I've accomplished that goal, my life seems incomplete without a family to share that with. While I'm content without having a husband, not having a child is NOT an option. -- Renee Williams, Marlton, N.J.

I am a single mother-by choice. I also had a high-risk pregnancy -- I was 35 and developed toxemia. While it would have been nice to have someone with me day-to-day during my difficult pregnancy, it just wasn't an option. Thankfully my mom and older sister were (and are) very supportive and helpful. Sometimes I wish I had had a normal pregnancy -- with a husband, going full-term, going into labor naturally instead of being induced, etc. -- but I would never trade the beautiful daughter I have as a result of my one & only pregnancy. --Dee, Ohio

I feel sorry for the kids raised by women only...especially the boys who are growing up without a male role model. These women who choose to become single parents are selfish and need to realize they are causing more harm than good to their child or children by robbing them of a father. As a nation and a culture, we will pay for these acts of selfishness. -- Dan DeLucca, Snohomish, Wash.

As a single mother, not by choice, I have found it difficult to manage a career and a child. I have found that companies, at least the ones I worked for, are not understanding of single parents as well as parents in general, and the needs that arise from having children. I had supportive ex-in-laws as well as my own mother. But is was a struggle nonetheless. I do recommend marriage but I also understand the want for a child. I wish my own child had a sibling but that was not an option for me. We need to pull corporate Americas into the 21st Century. We don't all have stay-at-home wives and nannies. We all do not make 6-figure salaries. -- Yvonne Vince, Scotch Plains, N.J.

This story has helped me to make my mind up about having a child on my own. Thank you so very much for doing this story. My husband died six years ago after only 3 1/2 months of marriage, and I have not found anyone that I would want to spend my life with since, but I want children and this story has helped me to make [my] mind up. -- Regina Mixon, Powder Springs, Ga.

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