Pregnant women look forward to the day when they can finally meet their baby. But few mothers-to-be look forward to the process of getting the baby out: labor. From overly-dramatized T.V. shows to your friends' horror stories about how their labors went, it's no wonder so many women are worried or even terrified of their baby's impending birth. Here are five tips for easing your fears of labor and delivery:
Step away from the horror stories (and birth videos)
When they find out you're pregnant, seemingly every other mom will want to tell you her labor story, and seemingly every other story involves some unusual circumstance that scares you. I have to admit that I was the rare type of pregnant woman who actually wanted to hear even bad labor stories, in order to feel prepared. But if that's not you, feel free to politely decline to listen to someone's birth story if it's making you more nervous about birth. You can simply laugh it off and say something like, "I'd love to hear your birth story! But I'm already scared enough and don't want to start worrying even more!" Also stay away from birth videos, which can be even worse than the stories.
Get advice from other moms
While you want to avoid gory birth stories, by all means you should ask your fellow female family members and friends for advice based on their experiences in labor. One of my favorite memories of my pregnancy is one where I was 9 months pregnant, sitting and talking with my mom, aunt, and grandmother about how their labors had gone. They gave me advice based on what they went through, and with 15 kids between the three of them, I got lots of good tips!
Know what to expect
When you know what's going on, you can work with your pain rather than suffer through fear of the unknown. Just knowing that contractions are there to help push the baby out makes them a little more bearable. One way to learn more is to attend a childbirth class. Most pregnancy books also cover the topic of labor.
Let your birth partner know what to do
Throughout my pregnancy, I prepared my husband for what I wanted during labor. He knew my thoughts on getting an epidural, how he could best comfort me while I was in pain, and what to say and (perhaps more importantly) what not to say. When I went into labor, he knew what to do. Also, have your birth partner attend your childbirth class with you, or at least have them read a book about labor. When your birth partner knows what's going on and what to expect, he or she will be less nervous and better able to focus on you.
Keep these things in mind
Even though I was hoping for a drug-free birth, I took comfort in knowing that if the pain got really bad, I always had the option of pain relief. Even if you're laboring at home, your midwife or doula probably knows some natural methods of pain relief. If you're worried about you or your baby's safety, remember that childbirth is safer than ever before for both mothers and babies. And know that just when it feels like you can't do it anymore -- that usually means the end of labor is near. Finally, keep in mind what I told my husband to remind me during labor, in case I lost sight of the goal: as labor progresses, and gets tougher, it just means that you are getting that much closer to meeting your new baby.
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