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Common Childbirth Fears

Updated on September 19, 2011
Newborn Baby
Newborn Baby

Dealing With Labor and Delivery Fears

Here is a list of common fears about giving birth and how you can alleviate them:

Not Being Able To Handle Labor Pain

From hearing your friends’ stories, to seeing shows and movies where the woman is in complete agony, it’s no wonder women are afraid of having a very painful birth. This is one of the biggest fears for pregnant women as they get closer to their due date. If you have this fear the best way to handle it is to read up on it. Understand that the contractions can be uncomfortable but it is your body doing exactly what it should be doing. You will go far when you come to terms with the idea that the “pain” is natural and goes away as soon as your body has delivered the baby.

Also, there are several ways to relieve the pain. If you are trying to give birth naturally and sans medication massage, hypnosis, changing positions, showering, and laboring in a warm tub are all different ways to ease the discomfort. Other options for women who go into labor are epidurals, spinal blocks, and narcotics. Talk with your doctor or midwife about how you can relieve labor pain.

Having the baby in the car/cab/far away from hospital

Another common fear for pregnant women is not making it to the hospital on time and having the baby in the car, taxi, or home without medical supervision. Yes, we’ve heard the stories where a woman had a baby on the plane or of the taxi driver recounting how, in the midst of traffic, he had to help a perfect stranger to push out a baby. These stories make it on the news because they’re so rare. Most women labor for an average of eight hours, so even though your hospital is an hour away, you may be laboring for quite a while. Also, you will know that your baby is on the way, there are many clues that will signal you, and if you are unsure call your midwife or doctor and let them know what's going on.

Pooping While pushing

Okay, I admit this was one of my fears. It turns out that many women have this fear too and rightly so, because a lot of women do push more than just the baby out! The only way to get over this fear is to understand that if a lot of women do accidentally poo while giving birth, then their doctors, midwives, nurses, and doulas are all used to it. Also, once you are in the midst of labor you won’t even realize that you just took a poop, and everyone is a professional and so used to it that if you did go, you would be cleaned and continue pushing out a baby in a matter of seconds. If you're family and friends are going to be around you, tell them your fears before hand, and let them know that it is part of giving birth. I'm sure they'll be understanding, or else why would you have them at your delivery?

Long Labor

Many women worry that they will labor for hours and hours, or even days. Pregnant women hear these horrifying stories of someone who went on for two days, laboring under contractions that never seemed to come to anything, or a long labor that resulted in being sent immediately into surgery for a cesarean section. What may ease this worry is that the average amount of labor first time moms undergo is about eight hours, and subsequent births are shorter. In addition, know that no one is pregnant forever; babies do tend to come out, even if they take their sweet time doing it. Women who undergo long labor aren’t laboring intensely for that period. They find that the contractions come and go with moderate to light pressure, and pregnant women can go about doing things to get ready for the upcoming arrival. If you are worried about having to get a c-section talk to your doctor or midwife about your concerns and find out ways that can help you avoid it, or at the very least, they should be able to ease your fears if you do have to get one.

Something will go wrong with the birth or the birth will result in death

With good prenatal care the fear of something going wrong with the birthing process or even death has dramatically decreased. Midwives and doctors are very well trained to handle emergencies and many complications, such as a breech birth, can be detected weeks before you’re due and can be resolved. A lot of deaths in the past have occurred due to handling babies and moms without hand washing, but today this is no longer an issue. Genetic screenings can be done nowadays and can help prevent any complications with you and your baby. If this is a very big fear for you, talk to your obstetrician or midwife and get counseling. Talking about your fears and discussing it with someone who deals with this can help you get perspective and advice on specific issues your going through.

Tearing/ Getting An Episiotomy

This too was another fear of mine, but after speaking to a friend who vaginally delivered a ten pound baby (!) without any tearing or stitching needed, I got a few pointers which helped alleviate my fears. She told me that weeks before she was due (she knew she was having a big baby), she began perineal massaging, which stretches the skin along the lower part of the vagina to prepare it for birth. Another tip was when it came to the actual birth, her midwife made her take her time pushing out the head, in fact, she had to stop several times to allow her skin to stretch out slowly as the baby’s head emerged. She claimed that it also helped that her midwife massaged her perineum with oil during delivery.

Now, for many women, tearing goes along with delivery. If you do tear it will most likely be a small one, or with the help of your doctor who can make a clean cut, it will be easy to stitch up. You will be given a local anesthetic so you won’t feel the stitching up, but you’ll probably be too involved with the baby to realize what’s going on. Bad tears are rare but do speak with your midwife or doctor and find out how they handle it. 


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