How to overcome the fear of Labor

As a teenager I was extremely frightened of the thought of giving birth.

My sister was pregnant when I was only 13 and my school decided to show us in a biology class a video of a woman giving birth, I was so scared for my sister that I fainted.

That is how scared I was and still am of that awful footage, I vowed secretly to myself that I would only have one baby and even then, I would opt for a C section.

Birth fears sometimes go beyond just the pain aspect.

Things such as needing interventions like forceps, ventouse and the need for a caesarean, can be a scary thought for expectant moms.. 

Some couples have anxiety about becoming parents and this can sometimes affect a mom’s ability to relax during labor making the whole process an ordeal.

Some women have a fear of losing their dignity during labor, having everything on show to numerous people on the delivery suite or pooping during labor.

These are all quite common fears which I only learnt of when I started to open up and talk about my own fears.

Who was to know that I would end up having 5 beautiful children who were all born naturally.

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If anyone had a crippling fear of birthing a baby it was me!

I would like to share how I managed to get over fear of giving birth and go on to have so many children.

Some common fears of mine were;

What if I poop?

What if my doctor misses my delivery?

What if I can’t continue due to the pain?

What if the epidural doesn’t work?

Don’t listen to birth stories

Nine times out of ten when you hear a birth story it’s from someone who has had a bad experience of labor.

Very rarely will you get someone telling you how amazing and quick their labor was.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I kept telling myself that if it really was that bad then why would women go on to have 2nd 3rd and 4th kids?

Even the ones who told me awful stories had a few children each.

I refused to engage with people about birth stories and decided this was the best way forward for me.

I couldn’t deal with being any more scared then I already was.

Watching shows portraying what labor will be like

Seriously, which television show or movie has ever portrayed birth as a calm experience.

Every movie I have seen, is of a woman’s waters breaking in a crowded place she then gets to 10cm dilated within seconds.

Someone is seen frantically calling an ambulance while she’s screaming and then the baby being born on the way to hospital or as soon as she arrives in the hospital screaming her head off.

Most women fear that their waters will break in public thanks to Hollywood when this is not that case at all.

It is more likely that they will trickle rather then gush out.

There is also the fact that contractions are normally the first sign of labor and can last hours if not days.

Some women, only 15% of women experience a pre-labor rupture of membranes.

Your waters will normally break when you are in the active stage of labor or have been artificially broken to get your contractions going.

Childbirth classes

My fear of labor definitely stemmed from lack of knowledge about childbirth.

Everything I knew was either from a textbook or from watching movies and shows which for the reasons stated above clearly wasn’t a very good example.

A way for me to actually get over some of my fears and ask questions was to go along to a childbirth class.

This would enable me to learn more about the actual birthing process from someone experienced and also talk about my fears openly.

The class I went to was very good they focused on

*Techniques to relax: breathing and being able to distract yourself in order to relax.

*Pain relief options, how and when to request them if you need them

*Labor positions, ways different positions can actually help speed up your labour.

*The stages of labor

*Possible delivery complications

*Medical interventions you may need such as induction or cesarean section

I found that attending the class really helped with my anxiety as it made it clear what was actually going to happen.

It was also a chance for my husband to openly talk through any fears that he had, which he hadn’t discussed with me previously.

He knew I was already so stressed out that the poor guy didn’t want me to freak out anymore!

I also made a few friends on the course as we were all having babies at the same time.

It was really interesting to see the other expectant moms nodding their heads when I was talking about the fears that were going through my head.

It just goes to show that I wasn’t alone in being frightened of giving birth, which strangely made me feel better.

One of my biggest fears was the size of the head for some reason I was terrified that my baby would have a massive head and I wouldn’t be able to push it out.

My coach explained that the baby would have a moldable, pliable, shrinkable baby head so not to worry about it to much. That in itself was worth attending the course for.

My husband and I left the class feeling so much better prepared for the birth of our baby and it really did help me overcome some of the fears I had been holding.

If you can’t attend a local class then these are some excellent classes that you can do online.

Birth plan

Plan but don’t over plan is my motto, write what you would like but be prepared for things not to go to plan.

After 5 kids I can tell you that each birth was completely different.

Try and include different scenarios and how you may want to deal with them.

It’s a good idea to write it just to get things clear in your head. It would be amazing if in life everything went to plan but unfortunately birth isn’t like that.

Being positive is a great way to deal with your labor fears, however you need to also think about things that may not go to plan.

Having the mindset of ‘that’s not going to happen to me’ is not a good way to approach childbirth.

This is exactly what happened with my first child and I was so out of it that I couldn’t advocate for myself and ended up with an assisted delivery.

If I had written a worst-case scenario birth plan then that would have been far more helpful and who knows I may have not have needed the intervention.

Related:The best online breastfeeding course ever.

Knowledge is power

Know all your pain relief options – ask if there is an anesthetist available 24 hours a day.

Even if you don’t think that you will need an epidural you should know this information beforehand.

Trust me anything can happen on the day and its good to have everything covered in case you do change your mind.

Get to know all the different birthing positions that can help labor progress more smoothly.

This is so important for you to know.

RELATED: THE TRUTH ABOUT PAIN RELIEF IN LABOR MY HONEST ACCOUNT

You do not have to give birth on your back and there are numerous positions that you may want to try.

Again you wont know until the day so try and research as best you can.

I would also give the same advice to moms expecting their second, third or fourth child. On the day you may find that a completely different position works for this particular labor.

Go and see the hospital/birth center where the baby will be delivered.

It is so important that you have a walk around where you are planning to give birth.

You may end up spending a lot of time there so you need to feel comfortable with them.

Ask if the pool is available for each laboring woman as my local one it was on a first come first serve basis and only had a very small number of pools available.

RELATED: THE TRUTH ABOUT LABOR FROM A DAD OF 5

Keep fit

Another great way to prepare for the upcoming birth is to keep fit, exercising regularly is a great way of preparing your body for the labor.

Getting out in the fresh air for a walk will do wonders if you are feeling anxious and a great way of changing your mood to a more positive one.

Try to get plenty of rest if you can, take your prenatal and eat well. This will prepare your body to handle the physical and emotional demands of labor.

RELATED: HOW MUCH WEIGHT GAIN IS NORMAL DURING PREGNANCY

Talk to someone

No matter how insignificant you feel your fears are, try to talk to someone you trust about them. A doctor, doula, nurse, partner, friend or therapist.

However, try to talk to someone who will give you level headed advice not someone who will add to your anxiety.

It would be advisable to discuss this with professionals who actually see birth as a normal process and will encourage you with positive examples.

Fear of pooping

This is such a common fear among expectant women and the truth is that midwifes look upon this favorably.

It means that the labor is progressing OK and that there is less chance of a C Section. Trust me the pooping muscles are the ones you need to be in working order to get that baby out!

Choose a doctor you trust

Choose a doctor who will provide you with compassionate care. Try to look for someone who will look at you as an individual based on your needs and help put your fears at rest.

You will need to trust your doctor as together you will need to work through different scenarios in labor and how you will go about each possibility.

Having someone on board that you trust can help any anxiety you may feel about not having the right support in the labor ward.

RELATED: SLEEP IN PREGNANCY THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

Breathing the pain out

Breathing and other relaxation techniques such as meditation are excellent for pain relief.

When I was pregnant with my second child, I would use breathing techniques at every opportunity I could.

I breathed through being poked and prodded at scans and also during internal examinations and it really did help.

If you can get practicing early with breathing techniques used in the Hypnobirthing book.

RELATED: THE TRUTH ABOUT PAIN RELIEF IN LABOR MY HONEST ACCOUNT

Set the Scene

For me a dark and quiet environment is an ideal environment for labor.

When I have given birth during the day, I asked for the blinds to be drawn.

I like things to be calm and quiet and I always ask for the lights to be dim and low.

I always take my own pillow, blanket and fluffy socks from home and I love using clary sage and lavender essential oil when I am labor it makes me feel very calm and I don’t feel like I am in the hospital.

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Affirmations

Use positive affirmations to get you through labor, these ones were particularly helpful whilst I was in the thick of it!

I can breathe through this contraction

I can do anything for a minute

My body was made to do this

Soften, open, release.

Books

If like me you love to read, I enjoyed reading the Hypnobirthing book it was a very different way of viewing the whole process of labor.

This book gave me a huge amount of confidence.

Another fantastic but somewhat visual book is Ina Mays guide to childbirth. This book is absolutely brilliant.

It was easy to read and hugely informative. The book felt unbiased and talks about the standard care that is available in the US and UK.

This book was key in helping me find closure after my first birth to move on without fear onto birthing my second baby.

A word of warning this book does contain quite vivid pictures of birthing women.

Change your position

Gone are the days when you had to lay on a hospital bed for hours on end waiting for the contractions to intensify, restricted by baby monitors and then baby to be born in the most difficult position possible on your back.

Nowadays it is somewhat encouraged for women to try and have as active birth as they possibly can.

Walking, bouncing on a ball and squatting are just some of the things one can try to get labor moving along.

You can also make a few notes on the positions you could try.

I gave birth to my second child laying on my side as I had severe sciatica and SPD.

You may feel that you want to try giving birth on all fours but in reality, it may not be at all possible when you are in labor, your legs may feel shaky and you may want to try another position.

Think about having a water birth

If you are worried about your dignity and having your private parts on show, a water birth could be an excellent alternative for you.

You will be in the pool and no one will really see anything.

Don’t forget you can send anyone away that you’re not comfortable with.

I have done this on one occasion when two students didn’t even say hello or give me an introduction of who they were for all I knew they could have been anyone.

They felt that it was OK to stand and observe without my permission which it was not.

In fact, my fifth child was actually delivered by a student doctor. She was a lovely young lady, spent the whole labor with me who had asked if it was OK to assist and deliver my baby.

Listen to music

Music is a great way of relaxing and destressing.

Some moms are known to even listen to nature sounds to relieve the pain of labor.

For me music is a great distraction when laboring at home but when I’m in the hospital I need the room to be silent so I can concentrate.

Lastly

The pain of labor is bad but the end is in sight, it’s not like morning sickness where it will drag on for what feels like forever.

If you are scared of the pain then take all the pain relief you need.

The midwives always laugh at me as when the baby’s head is crowning.

I always cry that ‘I can’t do this anymore’ and ask for an epidural literally begging them, but its obvious that its far to late and literally a minute later the pain is gone as the baby is born.

After my first birth I was totally prepared for my second.

I took each contraction as it came and breathed through it not even thinking of what was to come next.

This really helped my anxiety. Positive affirmations also really helped and keeping my body as relaxed as much as I possibly could.

RELATED: THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE GIVING BIRTH

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