Do you Dread your Delivery Date? 5 Ways to Fight the Fear

Here's what you can do to overcome your anxiety and have a better birth experience.

Do you lie awake imagining a painful, protracted labor? Are you afraid something bad will happen to your baby or you? Does the whole prospect make you want to sign up for a quick Cesarean section? Nearly every pregnant woman feels some anxiety about labor and delivery, especially if it's her first time, but some women are so nervous that it interferes with their pregnancy.

What makes women afraid?
The number of women in the U.S. who suffer from a substantial fear of childbirth-called "tokophobia"-is unknown. In Sweden, however, studies show that it affects some 10 percent of pregnant women there. Read more on anxiety's causes.

5 Ways To Fight The Fear
Avoid horror stories. Don't watch overdramatized childbirth shows on TV, and ask people not to share their negative experiences.
2. Find the facts. Learn about normal labor and delivery, as well as the actual vs. imaginary risks.
3. Address emotional issues. If you have a history of depression, anxiety or abuse, especially sexual abuse, seek professional help early.
4. Learn to relax. Meditation, deep breathing, yoga and guided imagery can help, as can long baths and peaceful walks.
5. Ask for support. Tell others how you feel, and spend time with supportive people who make you feel strong and confident.

Dealing with your specific concerns
The first step in overcoming fear of childbirth is to figure out what you dread. You can do this by keeping a journal or talking about your fears with a trusted friend or therapist. Then you can take action to restructure, or turn around, your anxious thoughts. Here's some advice on overcoming the most common childbirth fears:
Having a C-Section
Losing Control
Fetal Distress/Birth Defects