Giving birth is one of the biggest life-changing experience that you will ever go through in your life…so it is no surprise that many mums-to-be are apprehensive about having their first baby.
When most of us do think about childbirth, the word “pain” is one of the first that comes to mind. Especially, if this is your first time.
Not surprising considering that most women are only ever exposed to over-dramatized, complications-filled labours on movies and TV shows. When you do think about it, has there ever been a complication-free labour scene portrayed in the media?
We don’t think so.
While it is completely normal to feel a little fearful as you near the end of your pregnancy, intense fear of the delivery can actually complicate the process itself. A study that was conducted in the UK found that women who suffer from fear of childbirth during pregnancy have an increased rate of emergency Caesarean sections or, worst, complicated vaginal deliveries involving vacuums or other instruments.
The feeling of giving birth
Mum-to-be Carol Neo, recently posted a question on theAsianparent.com Facebook Fanpage asking;
“Thinking what is the feeling of giving birth as I will be giving birth soon nearer to my delivery date?”
Carol’s question might come across as innocuous to most, but other mums who have gone through what she’s about to go through will know that it is a question loaded with trepidation and hope.
Mak Ct wrote “Some got backache, some feel like going toilet [to] do big business, some says [it’s] like period cramp. Some say real labour you would not be able to stand the cramp and sleep through it…[sic] So depend on your body pain relief.”
While others, like Lay La came with a story that sent chills down our spine; “Be prepared for the contraction pain. It’s like you’re being tasered from your back every 2 mins. Giving birth is easy…like pushing a big poop…the difficult part is going thru the contractions and waiting for your cervix to open.”
Other mums, on the other hand were quite unanimous in their advice to new mums to just “relax and think positive.” Though the advice is sound, it is easier said than done.
Top 8 fears when it comes to childbirth
We understand that fear of childbirth could be intense…especially if this is the first time you’re undergoing one. Here’s our endeavour to list out the top eight biggest fears when it comes to childbirth and tips on how you could overcome them.
1) Fear of pain during childbirth
Every woman who is about to give birth for the first time will worry about this because it’s hard to imagine that the process will be pain-free. Taking childbirth classes, such as Lamaze, might help soothe your worries and prepare you for labour. Also, there is no shame in opting for pain suppressants such as an Epidural. Whatever people tell you, taking a pain suppressant during labour will not make you a less fantastic mum.
2) Fear of being in labour for too long
Everyone has heard the horror stories about someone being in labour for days, but in reality, the average labour lasts 18 hours. It is comforting to know that doctors rarely let the process go past 20 hours. If your labour stalls, there are things your doctor can do to augment the process, such as giving you Pitocin to make your uterus contract, or allowing you to continue your labour in a hot tub.
3) Fear of becoming paralyzed by an epidural injection gone wrong
The risk of permanent paralysis, as well as death or a heart attack, from an epidural falls in a range of one in 20,000 to one in 1,000,000. Anaesthetists are highly-trained doctors who perform epidurals every day. Have faith in modern medicine and the people who are trained in them, you are after all putting your life and the life of your unborn baby in their hands.
4) Fear of losing control
Whether it’s a fear of pooping on the delivery table or a fear of cursing uncontrollably, the possibility of not having total control over bodily functions can be completely horrifying. However, labour and delivery nurses, obstetricians and midwives have seen and heard it all, so you don’t have to worry about shocking them. If you are really concerned about losing bowel control, you can always opt for an enema in the early hours of labour.
5) Fear of vaginal tearing
This is a very common concern among mothers-to-be, and rightly so, because tears in the perineum (the area between your vagina and anus) are common, especially in first-time births. Most perineal tears are superficial, and only 4 percent of women suffer serious tears. Fortunately, there are things you can do at home before giving birth that can help prevent tearing, such as doing Kegel exercises to make the perineal muscles stronger, and massaging your perineum to increase blood flow and the elasticity of the muscles.
This seems to be one incident that really only happens in the movies and on television, but it is possible. In only less than one percent of births does a pregnant woman suddenly feel the urge to push without labour symptoms or contractions. However, it can happen, especially if you have had a previous quick labour. If you do find yourself in this situation, the American College of Nurse-Midwives have a document, A Guide to Emergency Preparedness for Childbirth that gives step-by-step instructions on what to do in case of an emergency.
7) Fear of the umbilical cord strangling the baby
The cord can and may end up around your baby’s neck during delivery, but it is important to remember that he or she is not breathing through his or her mouth yet. You are still breathing for your baby. Even if the cord gets stretched, there are mechanisms in place that allow them to continue working properly. If your baby is born with his or her cord around the neck, all the doctor needs to do is untangle it after birth before cutting it.
8) Fear of dying during childbirth
This fear goes through the mind of every mom-to-be because, although the risk is low (13.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in the U.S. in 2006), it’s still a remote possibility, especially if you have a caesarean section. However, taking childbirth classes, as well as taking a tour of the labour and delivery department of your hospital and talking to your obstetricians, may ease your mind. Dying is a risk that comes with every childbirth…but it is a risk that we are willing to take.
We hope that this article has been helpful in quelling your fears of childbirth and we wish you, the best of luck.