There are few things in this world that scare us as much as childbirth. If this is your first child, many of those fears tend to come from fear of the unknown. Childbirth is such an unpredictable experience and each birth is as unique as a snowflake. In our highly scheduled and controlled world it can be scary to let go and let nature take its course. Today we are going to talk about some of the biggest fears many pregnant people share and how to work through them.
I don’t know what to expect.
This is by far the biggest fear I hear my clients express. Having someone on your birth team familiar with the whole process really helps. Que the doula. While it is true that there is no way to prepare someone for how it will feel to be in labor, there is a great deal a doula can do to help you prepare for the experience. A doula is like having a birth and pregnancy encyclopedia at your fingertips. She can help you understand the process of labor, what policies and procedures to expect dependent on your chosen place of birth, and how to cope with changes to your birth plan. Your doula can remind you during labor what is normal and help you feel more in control of what is happening.
I am afraid labor will hurt.
While there is no way to predict how your labor will feel, there are a few categories of sensations that many labors will fall into.
- Cramping – This will feel like menstrual cramps that come and go rhythmically.
- Tightening – This will feel like a wave of contracting muscles that move from front to back or back to front.
- Pressure – This feels like a downward pressure into your vulva. Some describe it as feeling like you are bruised.
- Expanding – This will feel like a balloon in your belly that is being blown up and expanding your entire uterus.
All of these contraction sensations will usually start off feeling mild and increase in intensity as labor progresses. There are many types of pain relief available to you and your doula can help you understand your options and help create a pain management plan. Knowing your options and having a plan can decrease anxiety about possible pain in labor.
I worry about my water breaking.
While this makes for some great drama on TV, many labors do not start with your water breaking in the grocery store. There are some steps you can take to minimize the “mess” if your water does break while you are out and about.
- Wear a pad – An overnight maxi pad can help soak up some of the fluid if your water breaks. If there is a large gush however, a pad may not catch it all.
- Depends Underwear – Depends will collect most of the fluid if your water breaks, and with their sleek design know one will know your wearing one.
- Puppy training pads – After the initial break your waters will continue to leak throughout the rest of your labor. Puppy pads are nice to place under you as you rest in bed or sit on the couch.
- Shower curtain or plastic drop cloth – If your anxiety surrounds your water breaking in bed, you can make your bed with a layer of plastic below your fitted sheet so as not to drench your mattress.
I am afraid of pooping on my provider.
This is a common fear for most birthing parents but is unfortunately unavoidable. Sometimes (though not always) you may notice some gastrointestinal upset before the onset of labor. This can help to clean out your system in preparation for the big day but is not fool proof. Couple that with the fact that your digestion slows during labor and you may be at less risk of pooping. But fear not! Even if you do poop, your provider will not tell you and just wipe it away before anyone notices.
It is ok to be fearful of the unknown! With the help of a great support team you can help mitigate that fear and go into your birth ready to face whatever happens.
Let us know in the comments what your biggest fear is/was about childbirth.