How to Stop Worrying about Labor and Birth
When a woman discovers she is pregnant, she is going to feel a huge number of emotions, regardless of whether or not the baby was planned. Becoming pregnant and deciding to have a baby is quite simply the biggest thing any person could ever do.
Motherhood brings with it heaps of responsibility, and many feelings may bubble up that can be extremely surprising. One of the most (if not the most) common of these feelings is fear. This can be down to anxiety surrounding the birth and labour, stress about financial or even living arrangements and worry about our individual parenting skills - to name just a few concerns.
Most Common Fears about Giving Birth
"What if I can't cope with the pain of giving birth?"
This has to be one of the most common fears for pregnant women and, having given birth myself three months ago - I beg you, if you are reading this, I BEG YOU, do not allow people to tell you labour "isn't that bad" or "it's just like period pain" or "my labour didn't hurt - people just want to scare you". Labour has earned a reputation as the single most painful thing you will ever go through for a reason. A small percentage of women do not feel much pain, some claim to not feel anything and good for them! However, the majority of women will find the pain of labour difficult.
Does this make these women (and I am amongst these women), any less capable of giving birth? No. It does not. Nor does it mean we will be unable to get our babies out safe and sound. If you are reading this and feeling slightly discouraged by my last paragraph I apologise, but I promise you, you will get through labour, even if it's a difficult birth and you will be so overcome with love and joy for your baby that you won't regret a thing, and you will probably want to do it all over again when the time is right.
Labour pain hurts, but it IS manageable. Even if you are CONVINCED that you want a natural birth, with no pain relief whatsoever, do some research about your options. Many women feel empowered by natural child birth and I have extreme respect for these women - but I have experienced first-hand feeling like I would let myself down if I had pain relief - a part of me felt that my fiancé wouldn't be proud of me if I asked for help with the pain. I was going to give birth to my baby with gas and air only IF I needed it. Well... The gas and air just took the edge off... You know... The way a parecetamol would help if you were having your legs cut off. So I asked for diamorphine... And then 10 hours later I caved in and asked for the one thing I begged my partner to not let me have - an epidural. As it happened, I ended up in theatre having a forceps delivery because my little boy was HUGE (the growth scan had guessed 5.12lbs and my baby was actually 9.6lbs - great, huh?) So I would have needed stronger pain relief anyway.
So to summarise, yes the contractions can be extremely painful - but at the point you need it, you CAN have pain relief. You will not be left to suffer, and let me tell you - the second that epidural kicked in I felt NOTHING. Begin to come to terms with the fact that asking for help when you are in pain is simply a natural thing to do, and if we feel bad about wanting help during childbirth then when will there ever be a suitable time?
It is a deeply personal choice whether or not women want to use pain relief and whatever you choose, I promise you will not be in labour forever, even though it sometimes feels like you will, and once it is over your blissful time with your new baby can begin. There is nothing better.
Apart from pain relief, you can use methods such as hypnobirth techniques (lots of women swear by this), natural remedies and tips from your midwife. For instance, calming music and dimmed lights will often make a pregnant woman who is in labour feel secure, while the dimmed lights also help natural endorphins to be released faster. Bathing in warm water can help and also using a TENS machine to help take the edge of those first lot of contractions while you are at home can really help.
If you are feeling extremely anxious, talk to your care provider or midwife who will have helped hundreds of women previously who have felt the same way.
Tell yourself during labour that you CAN do it. Your body is designed to give birth and no matter what, you and your baby will be safe. Many women fear they or their baby will encounter a severe complication during or immediately after the birth. Complications like this are extremely rare, and maternal death is next to unheard of. The care system in the majority of countries is excellent and you and your baby will most likely not have any problems.
Another very common worry for women close to delivering their babies is that their bodies won't return to 'normal' and believe they will have saggy tummies and sex will no longer be enjoyable for themselves or their partners. Firstly, even if you never have a 'bikini body' again, your body will heal and go back to a satisfactory size over time - give yourself at least a year and remember what your body has gone through. Naturally, after childbirth - regardless of whether you have given birth naturally or delivered your baby via C-section - sex will not feel quite the same as women lose some muscle tone. However, this does not mean that sex will not be enjoyable for both partners. Whilst pregnant ensure you do plenty of pelvic floor exercises as this will help prevent loss of muscle tone and also stress incontinence.
New Mom Essentials for Labour
Dealing With The Early Stages of Labour
It is very common, especially for first time mothers, for the first stage of labour to last for many hours, and sometimes even days. Whilst it can be a mixture of exciting and frightening, this is the time to tell your partner or talk to your birthing partner and ensure they are around as much as possible to tell you what an amazing job you are doing, and to help you with anything you may need or want such as cups of tea/food and running baths. Being waited on doesn't really help the pain, but it sure is nice to feel pampered during this time!
During this phase relaxation can be extremely difficult, and you may find you don't want to sit still for very long. Try a bath, some music or a TENS machine (which many pregnant women swear by during labour). Try to stay calm and practice deep breathing techniques - this will help you immensely and it is good practice before you go to the hospital.