At some point in your pregnancy, you will probably experience a family member, friend or even a stranger telling you their own “labor horror story.” These exaggerated tales, coupled with your own worries about labor, can make the experience seem downright scary. Labor fears are completely normal. Put your mind at ease with these tips about overcoming your labor anxiety and enjoy getting ready to meet your new baby.
Common Labor Fears
Television shows and movies offer dramatized versions of women going into labor and delivering their babies, fueling some of the fears that you may be experiencing. After all, if your favorite television character’s water broke in the middle of the grocery store, which resulted in her delivering her baby in the middle of the pasta aisle, it just might happen to you, right? Realize that you aren’t alone in having labor fears and that they are extremely unlikely to actually occur. These common labor fears include:
- Not making it to the hospital on time and delivering your baby in the car, home, etc.
- Having to get an emergency c-section
- Experiencing a vaginal tear
- Having to get an episiotomy
- Not being about to deal with the pain of childbirth or of receiving an epidural
- Dying during childbirth
- Pooping on the delivery table or floor
- Being in labor for days
- Not having a birth plan work out
Reality Check: What Fears are Real and What Fears are Not
Not Making it to the Hospital
The average labor for first-time moms is 20 hours, while second-time parents can expect it to last an average of eight hours. Because labor lasts much longer in real life than it does on the television, you will most likely be able to reach the hospital in time.
Vaginal Tears and Episiotomies
Approximately 50 percent of moms experience a small vaginal tear during labor, as baby makes his or her debut into the world. These tears are typically first-degree tears, which don’t bleed, don’t tear past the first layer of the vagina and don’t normally require treatment. Though first-time moms are more likely to experience a vaginal tear, tearing naturally is preferable to an episiotomy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends doctors not perform episiotomies unless there is an emergency.
Having an Emergency C-Section
The number of cesarean births performed this year is now on the decline and approximately only one-third of births result in a c-section. Many of these births are repeat c-sections or must be done due to pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia. A c-section is always a reality of birth, but the doctor will only perform one if it’s the best way to keep you and your baby healthy.
Dealing with the Pain of Childbirth
Childbirth is painful; however, you will be able to get through it like the millions of women who have done it before you. Epidurals, which help relieve some of the pain through an anesthetic inserted into your spine, can help relieve some of this pain. Your anesthesiologist will first numb the area on your back before inserting the needle, giving you relief from those painful contractions. Taking childbirth classes and having a doula and a partner to guide you through labor can help ease the pain.
Sadly, death during childbirth does occur; however, in the United States, there are only 11 deaths of women per over 100,000 births. Your chances of dying are extremely low. Because many of these deaths occur because a lack of prenatal care, recent insurance changes and policies that aim to cover a larger number of pregnant women are expected to reduce this number to an even lower rate.
You are probably already preparing for your new little one by getting a crib, buying new clothes and learning about feeding options. Prepare yourself for labor by doing low-impact exercises, listening to your doctor’s advice and taking time for yourself to relax.
Your new baby will soon be here. Don’t let the fears, and scary tales from other moms, take away from the amazing experience of pregnancy and childbirth. With the right information and the right preparation, you will soon be through labor and ready to tackle the next big task of raising your baby. Ameda is here to support during your pregnancy and after the birth of your precious little one. Prepare for the arrival of your new baby with a free insurance-approved breast pump—one less thing for you to worry about!