As a labor and delivery nurse, I see a lot of pregnant people and many of them are freaked out when they go into labor. Besides your likely over-packed bag, quite often a lot of fear comes into your labor room with you. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first or your fourth. The fear of the unknown. It can overwhelm.
There are a lot of totally rational fears.
Fear of being induced
This one seems to swing both ways. Either you’re afraid you’ll have to get induced, or you’re afraid you’ll be overdue and your doctor won’t induce you.
Either way, make sure you understand what is going on, why you need to get induced (or why your doctor won’t induce you). Find out what your options are. In reality, a LOT of women get induced. I recommend waiting as long as is safe before trying an induction. And, if you do get induced, be sure to ask lots of questions.
Worried about a C-section
This is a big one. One of the largest ways you can aim to avoid this is by not being induced. BUT, in general, 33% of all pregnancies will likely end up with a cesarean section. The beauty of c-sections is that we do them SO frequently, and it’s almost the only surgery we do in labor and delivery that is fairly routine. We certainly have a groove of safety that is very comforting.
Again, make sure you understand why and understand your options before you decide that a c-section is the right thing for you. If it is truly urgent there will be a lot of nurses swarming you, in that case you will want to really listen to your doctor and the medical professionals around you.
Scared of dying during childbirth
While we’re at it, people do die in delivery. It is extremely rare. I am often told that the chance of dying is actually a lot higher in driving to the hospital than it is in L&D. Hopefully that helps put it in a little perspective.
Afraid of pain
Yup. It’s probably going to hurt. I do often believe that the fear of the pain is often worse than the actual pain. In reality, if you are that afraid of the pain you may opt for an epidural or some other pain method (I just had a lady who emailed me about her laughing gas delivery, who knew they still did that?) so look at pain management before you go into labor. Take a look at hypnobirthing, water therapies and breathing techniques too.
Worried about an episiotomy or tearing
This is when the skin between your vagina and your rectum rips (or is cut – that’s an episiotomy) as the baby comes out. The thought of this is often a lot worse than it actually happening when you’re in the thick of things. Also, if you have an epidural you won’t feel it happening.
Yes, it might happen. But, thank goodness for tucks and ice packs (you can even keep your tucks in the fridge at home) and it will heal.
Concerned about pooping at delivery
I did a whole post on this. Suffice it to say, you cannot tighten your poop-hole (more medically known as your rectum) without tightening your vagina – and that’s like pushing against a brick wall. I don’t mind it when people poop. It shows me you’re pushing in the right place. I clean it up and we’re on our way. “Let it go, Elsa.”
Need for the NICU
A baby stay in the NICU is never fun. However, the vast majority of stays in the NICU could not have been avoided by you or anything you could have/would have done or prepped for. Save yourself the worry.
Here are a few things to keep you from stressing out about childbirth.
1. Pick a good doctor/medical professional that you trust.
Make sure they give you options, not just say “this is the best thing for you and your baby.” It’s their job to give you options and tell you why, exactly, they’re recommending a particular course of action.
2. Take a high-quality prenatal class.
I’m not talking about the kind where you learn to deliver the baby on your own, I’m talking about one that will go through the steps of having a baby to just help you understand what’s going to happen. Information combats fear. Tinyhood has great classes.
3. Ignore the horror stories.
People have obviously been having babies for quite a long time (approximately three were born as you read this) so keep in mind that these worries are the extremes, not norms. Plenty of healthy babies are born on the side of the road or behind a bush.
Birth can be just as scary as it can be beautiful, but while it’s almost impossible to do, try not to worry.
Related: Hospital vs Home Birth