As your baby’s due date approaches, you may be surprised to find your mind swimming in fears. Even for the most level-headed women among us, facing the unknown in the delivery room can be enough to raise our heart rates. To encourage you to find a measure of calm, we’re breaking down three top labor worries – and giving you reason to breathe easy again.
1. Labor will never end
One doula in our circle breaks the ice with potential clients by quipping that “100 percent of her clients are no longer pregnant.” While that gets a laugh, it’s easy to think – while in the throes of labor – that childbirth will never actually end. There’s a terrifying thought that eats away at your confidence and can make labor even tougher to soldier through.
How to cope: Train yourself to view each contraction as a separate entity. When you’re through experiencing one contraction, it’s gone forever. You never have to go through that particular pain again. Remind yourself that each wave of discomfort is working to open your cervix and bring you one step closer to meeting your baby.
2. The pain will be too much to handle
All around us, movies, TV shows and experienced moms alike are quick to tout the unparalleled pain of childbirth. “Get an epidural as soon as you can,” is one mom’s maxim for the delivery room. Going into labor when you’re so terrified of how you’ll handle the pain does nothing to empower you. In 2012, a Norwegian study showed that women who feared the pain of childbirth endured longer labors by as much as 1 hour and 32 minutes.
How to cope: First, get informed. Sign up for your hospital’s birthing class. Knowledge is power, right? Next, read up on pain management strategies. Even if you decide on an epidural, your doctor or midwife may advise you to labor first. Experimenting with different positions and utilizing the shower, bath or exercise ball may help relieve pain.
As much as we study and plan for it, childbirth is a big question mark. That thought alone can be worrisome. Add to that the fact that any number of issues can come into play during the process, and some moms-to-be may be reaching for the panic button.
How to cope: Choose your health care team wisely. Make sure you have full faith in your doctor or midwife, and think carefully about who you’d like in the delivery room. Having a doula at your side can do wonders for putting your mind at ease. Understand that your health care team is constantly monitoring both you and baby to ensure that all goes as smoothly as can be.
While pregnancy and childbirth can be stressful and overwhelming, there’s no reason to suffer. If your fears and anxiety are getting the best of you, talk to your doctor or midwife about seeking counseling before your due date.