When I was pregnant I eagerly counted the days until I could finally meet my baby. But as the due date approached, my anticipation was laced with fear and anxiety about labor. I’d seen the movies of screaming women, grew more nervous from the unsolicited advice, and heard the stories of people who didn’t recognize the labor symptoms and ended up giving birth in the cab.
Every pregnant woman has gone through these thoughts, and thankfully most of these fears are ungrounded. In fact, my labor was pretty easy! Here are some of the ways to cope with anxiety about labor.
What if I only realize I’m in labor when it’s too late to get to a hospital?
The stories of women giving birth in cabs are very rare (which is why they make it to the news). Though the first stages of labor are admittedly subtle (you just feel uncomfortable, which pretty much describes the last trimester) you will see the changes as it progresses to the next stage. And even if you’re confused, that’s what the doctor’s for! Just give him a call, or go to the hospital and allow yourself to be checked.
What if I embarrass myself by going to the hospital for false labor?
The medical staff are used to this scenario and aren’t laughing at you behind your back. They’re just doing their job, and so are you—because as a mom your first lookout is you and your baby’s health. You are well within your rights to check things out.
What if my water breaks in one big gush while I’m in a public place?
You’re not going to gush like a waterfall or a burst water balloon. In fact it will be more like a trickle because the entrance of your birth canal will be plugged by the baby’s head (kind of like the cork on a champagne bottle). And in most cases, the water breaks in the later stages of labor, when the contractions are undeniable and you’ve had plenty of other labor symptoms to prompt a visit to the ER.
What if I sleep through labor?
Honey, I wish we could all sleep through labor, but this kind of painless delivery is usually achievable only with a good, high-level dose of anesthesia.
What if I can’t deal with the pain?
It is going to hurt, but you can manage the pain with proper breathing and focusing techniques, and even certain positions. Childbirth classes or a good talk with your doctor or midwife can help you feel better prepared for the Big Day, and more focused and relaxed when the contractions come (and grow steadily stronger).
Photo from howstuffworks.com