GIVING BIRTH: 5 common fears and how to cope

GIVING BIRTH: 5 common fears and how to cope

Medical Source: Ursula Sabia-Sukinik, Birth You Desire

The day when your little one will make their grand entrance into the world is drawing near. As you eagerly await the moment of meeting your precious bundle of joy, it's completely normal to have a mixture of thoughts and perhaps even a touch of anxiety about the birthing process. It's understandable, considering the many stories you've heard from your well meaning family and friends who have nothing but your and your baby's well-being in mind. However, it's crucial not to let stress overpower you.

Drawing from the wisdom of experts and experienced mothers, we have gathered a collection of the most common worries women have during labor. Our intention is to assist you in preparing for this momentous occasion and, hopefully, alleviate some of your concerns. Our hope is that by providing this information, you can approach the big day with increased confidence and peace of mind. We also invite you to visit our free Labor, Birth & Breastfeeding On Demand Video Library with 2+ hours of tutorials from certified birth, breastfeeding and postpartum recovery healthcare professionals.

I Won't Be Able to Tell The Difference Between False and Real Labor

As you approach the final stages of your third trimester, it's common to experience contractions that don't necessarily indicate the onset of labor. These contractions, often referred to as Braxton Hicks contractions or false labor, are low-level and irregular in nature. They serve as a valuable preparation for the real event, acting like a dress rehearsal for your body. However, it's important to note that they can easily deceive you into believing that it's time to go to the hospital, especially if you're a first-time mom. Rest assured, many women have faced the same uncertainty and confusion, and you are not alone in this experience.

If you find yourself experiencing contractions, which can bring about tense and cramping sensations, consider exploring different positions. Lying on your side might provide some relief and potentially alleviate the contractions. If the contractions aren't requiring your complete focus, try diverting your attention with activities such as watching a movie, taking a leisurely walk, or even scrolling through entertaining content like TikTok. The idea is to engage in something that helps shift your thoughts away from the situation, offering a sense of comfort during this time.

When you notice your contractions increasing in both frequency and intensity, trust your instincts and take action. Reach out to your trusted OB-GYN or make your way to the hospital or birth center without hesitation. It's better to err on the side of caution and seek professional guidance during this crucial time. If, by chance, you are advised to return home, please know that it is completely normal and nothing to be concerned about. The medical staff is well-acquainted with false alarms in labor and delivery, and they understand that these situations can occur. They are there to support you every step of the way, ensuring your safety and well-being throughout the entire birthing process.

I'm Losing Sleep Imagining How Giving Birth is Going to Feel

It's a common experience during pregnancy to hear numerous labor horror stories from fellow mothers. Regrettably, those who had positive birth experiences often tend to be less vocal. Consequently, it's understandable for anxiety about your own first birth to intensify as your due date approaches. The question of whether contractions will be painful arises, and the answer varies depending on several factors: the stage of labor, your individual pain tolerance, the unique characteristics of your body and your baby's body, and even the level of fear you may be experiencing. Remember, each birth is a unique journey, and it's important to approach it with compassion for yourself and an understanding that you have the strength to navigate this process in your own way.

Birth Doula, Ursula Sabia-Sukinik, cautions that “fear surrounding childbirth can lead to increased tension, which in turn intensifies pain. Additionally, fear has the potential to hinder the progress of your labor." Instead of fixating on the possibility of discomfort, it can be immensely helpful to explore various pain relief techniques that can aid you in managing and coping with the sensations you may experience. Techniques such as meditation and focused breathing can offer valuable support during this transformative journey. By embracing these techniques and empowering yourself with knowledge, you can cultivate a sense of calm and resilience, enabling you to navigate the birthing process with greater confidence and ease.

In addition, familiarizing yourself with the various pain management options, including medications like epidurals, can be beneficial. It's important to note that you don't have to make a definitive decision regarding pain medication at this moment. By observing how early labor unfolds, you can assess the situation and make a well-informed choice regarding any necessary interventions when the time comes. Remember, it's essential to prioritize your comfort and well-being throughout the birthing process, and having knowledge about available options empowers you to make decisions that align with your needs and preferences.

What If I Poop On the Delivery Table!

Certainly, nobody wishes for their birthing partner, or anyone else for that matter, to witness such a scene. However, it's important to recognize that it is a completely normal part of childbirth. When you're pushing to bring your baby into the world, you're utilizing the same muscles that are involved in having a bowel movement.

If you find yourself concerned about how the medical team will react, it's worth considering how frequently bodily functions arise in healthcare settings. These professionals have encountered it all and are not disgusted or put off by these natural processes.

Above all, it's crucial not to allow any phobias or fears to hinder your pushing efforts. Abbi Kane, a mother from Stamford, CT, shares her experience, saying, "My fear of pooping on the delivery table almost changed the course of my delivery." She explains that she was trying to push without exerting too much effort. After more than two hours, she was informed that she had only two more pushes before a C-section would be necessary. Determined to avoid unnecessary intervention, she pushed with all her strength and successfully delivered her baby in just two pushes. She realized that avoiding embarrassment was not worth undergoing a cesarean section if it could be avoided.

Remember, the focus during childbirth should be on the safe and healthy arrival of your baby. The medical team is there to support you, and their primary concern is your well-being and the well-being of your child. They are experienced professionals who understand the natural processes of birth and will handle any bodily functions with professionalism and care.

I'll Feel Like a Failure if My Birth Plan Changes

Crafting a birth plan can be a valuable step in fostering a sense of control over your labor and delivery experience. It serves as an opportunity for you, your birth partner, and your healthcare provider to align and establish a shared understanding before the actual birth takes place.

Rather than simply handing your birth plan to your nurse, consider using it as a starting point for a conversation, as suggested by Sabia-Sukinik. Engaging in dialogue with your healthcare team, and having an advocate such as a birth doula, can help create a collaborative atmosphere where everyone feels like they are working together towards a common goal; the healthy birth of your baby. Additionally, this approach may prompt your nurse to share the hospital's standard protocols of care with you, including important procedures such as delayed cord clamping, immediate skin-to-skin contact, and breastfeeding. This exchange of information ensures that you are well-informed about the available options and can make informed decisions in line with your preferences and values.

Remember, the purpose of a birth plan is to foster communication, understanding, and mutual respect, enabling you to have the most positive and personalized birthing experience possible.

I'm Afraid of Tearing or Needing an Episiotomy

This particular topic often instills a sense of dread in many women regarding their nether regions. However, in reality, it may not be as daunting as it sounds. An episiotomy, which involves making an incision near the vaginal opening to widen it, is no longer a routine procedure. It is now typically reserved for special circumstances, such as when there is a need for quick delivery or if the baby is in an abnormal position. It's important to note that regardless of the situation, your doctor should always inform you about the possibility of an episiotomy in advance and explain the potential risks involved.

Tears, on the other hand, affect approximately 80% of birthing women. It's essential to understand that tears can vary in severity, with different degrees ranging from first to fourth. The level of pain and recovery required depends on the extent of the tear.

Several factors contribute to whether a woman will experience tearing. These factors include the size of the baby, the vaginal capacity of the mother, and the level of control during the delivery process.

To help reduce the likelihood of tearing, obstetricians often employ strategies like allowing the baby's head to remain in the crowning position for a brief period, which helps fully stretch the vaginal opening instead of rushing the baby's delivery and potentially causing tissue tears.

Perineal massage is a preventive measure that can be employed in the final weeks of pregnancy to prepare the perineum. The perineum refers to the area between the vagina and the anus. This gentle massage involves applying pressure and stretching motions to the tissues in that region to increase their flexibility and elasticity.

Perineal massage aims to reduce the risk of perineal tears or the need for an episiotomy during delivery. By regularly performing perineal massage, you can help increase the blood flow, soften the tissues, and improve their ability to stretch, which may contribute to a more comfortable and controlled birthing experience.

Another preventive measure, employed during birth, involves pushing in an upright position, such as kneeling in bed or being on all fours. These positions leverage gravity to the advantage of the birthing parent, aiding in the opening of the pelvic joints and facilitating the baby's passage.

Even if a tear does occur, it is unlikely that you will feel it happening in the moment. The pressure of your baby's head on the nerves in that area tends to numb the sensation. After delivery, your healthcare provider will promptly stitch any tears as necessary. It's worth noting that if you haven't already had an epidural, your doctor will administer a local anesthetic to ensure the process is painless.

Labor is an extraordinary event, and it rightfully carries significance as you bring a new life into the world. Recognizing the miraculous innate abilities of your body and focusing on the joyous moments of cuddling with your baby can help alleviate anxieties. As Ursula Sabia-Sukinik emphasizes, "I try to help women work through the fear of letting go—realizing this is something so much bigger than themselves." If you find it challenging to overcome the jitters, remember to trust in your body's ability to guide you through the birthing process. Just as your body instinctively knows how to nurture and grow your baby, it also possesses inherent knowledge on how to navigate labor successfully.

Finally, remember, you are invited to visit our free Labor, Birth & Breastfeeding On Demand Video Library with 2+ hours of tutorials from certified birth, breastfeeding and postpartum recovery healthcare professionals. Feel free to peruse at your leisure.