Preparing to give birth can be an overwhelming experience. It’s easy to be nervous about the unknown – but you aren’t alone. Here are 15 common fears about delivering a baby.
Common Labor and Delivery Fears
I don’t know about you, but during the weeks leading up to the delivery of my children, I’m a complete basket case.
Part of me can’t wait for the pregnancy to be over.
The other part of me just clings to every kick and squirm, knowing that I’ll miss having my sweet baby inside me.
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And then another part of me is a nervous wreck.
Labor and Delivery is such a unique experience – it’s something that you can’t ever truly be 100% ready for.
But, as some meme I’ve seen on Facebook says, “Labor and Delivery is the only date where you are guaranteed to meet the love of your life at the end.”
So keep that in mind during those hard contractions 😉
I thought it would be helpful to share with pregnant moms these common labor and delivery fears…so you know you aren’t alone! I surveyed many moms in preparation for this post, and these 15 fears came up time and time again.
Preparing for Labor and Delivery
Hands down, this is the biggest fear I see women talk about in regards to labor and delivery. It’s funny because it’s probably one of the least serious ones.
Most women do poop on the delivery table. I know it sounds mortifying, but in the heat of the moment…you won’t care, the doctors don’t care, and your baby doesn’t care. It’s just what happens!
The best advice I can give you is this – just accept that it will happen and embrace all the wonderful and disgusting parts of giving birth. I promise, no one is going to be judging you in that moment.
This one is so sad to mention, but it probably is something that crosses the mind of most moms – dying or their baby being stillborn/dying after birth.
The reality of it is this – these tragedies do happen. And most of the time, no one could have anticipated it. However, I believe that you should go into every birthing experience as positive as possible and just hope for the best.
Chances are, everything will be okay. There are about 600 maternal deaths in the US each year, and there were almost 4 million births last year (according to the CDC). But it’s understandable to be worried or concerned about this – just don’t le the fear consume you.
Not Getting to the Hospital in Time
I don’t think any of us want to be the next prime-time news story about being the mom who delivered their baby in the middle of the free way.
At least, I sure didn’t!
The fact is, some labors are faster than others. By the time I was in active labor, my babies came fast (especially once my water broke – my kids weren’t waiting for any one!).
If my water breaks at home, I don’t think I’ll even try to leave!
On the flip side, I know plenty of people who spent well over 24 hours laboring. And you just don’t know what your labor is going to be like.
Chances are, you’ll get to the hospital in time. Just pay attention to your body and go in as soon as you think you are ready! I highly recommend renting Bloomlife so you can better understand what your body’s contractions are like. You can get $25 off your first month’s rental using the code Clarks25. I only wish I had this with my pregnancies!
With that said, my sister-in-law recently had a baby – she started having contractions around midnight, and she got to the hospital at about 12:20…and her baby was there by about 12:30. It can happen fast.
Maybe watch some videos on delivering babies, just in case 😉
Things Not Going As Planned
Everyone has a plan for what their ideal birth will go. Sometimes, it will go off without a hitch.
And other times? You may end up with something you never anticipated.
My pregnancy with Oliver was difficult, but nothing could have prepared me for the last few weeks a we not only dealt with him being breech but finding out that he was IUGR and not growing like he should have been.
Just remember this – every birth is beautiful. Expect the unexpected. Know what you want but be flexible. The most important thing is a healthy mom and a healthy baby. Have your birth plan, but be prepared to change it.
On the flip side, don’t be afraid to make sure your spouse/partner, doctor, nurses, etc. know the kind of birth you are envisioning. While they can’t guarantee it will happen, they can definitely help in whatever way they can!
Having a C-Section
For about a week, we thought our little Oliver might arrive via c-section because he was breech. To say I was devastated was an understatement.
There is nothing wrong with a C-section birth – they are beautiful and have saved many lives. However, it wasn’t the birth I wanted. So I was terrified.
We ended up not having a c-section, but I did have many women reach out to me about their experiences which did help put me at ease.
It’s normal to be scared about the possibility of having a c-section – whether it be a planned on you weren’t initially planning on or an emergency one. But just remember that a C-section is not the end of the world – it can be imperfectly perfect 🙂
I do think that sometimes a doctor will push for a c-section unnecessarily, so make sure you research a doctor’s c-section rate, as well as the hospitals, to see if c-sections are more a trend.
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Being Sent Home
I’ve been sent home while I was in labor with both my boys.
Let me tell you – it is not fun! Both times I knew I would be back in a matter of hours, so it was frustrating to drive all the way to the hospital (both times in the middle of the cold night), go through the process of being monitored, poked, and prodded, only to be told I had to go home.
I know plenty of women who have a fear of being sent home and having no clue when they should go in – and it can be hard. I mean, with both my labors, I started having contractions three minutes apart right away – which is usually when they say you need to go in. However, I didn’t progress…and now I know not to go in until I literally feel like I’m dying.
If in doubt, call your doctor and go in. It’s really not that bad to be sent home.
Ah…another joy of childbirth. According to this article, you have a 95% chance of tearing during labor as a first-time mom. Here are a few things that might increase your chances:
- Being overweight
- Fast birth
- Position of baby
- Vacuum or forceps assisted birth
- Long labor
Your chances of tearing with subsequent births does go down, but if you tore before, you are more likely to tear again.
Tearing is not fun – with my first, I actually got an episiotomy (don’t get me started on that), and with my second, I just tore along that same area. It was painful afteward, but it wasn’t so bad. As long as you stay on schedule with your pain medications and make sure you use your peri-bottle (or perhaps a bottle of bottom spray) you should be okay.
There are four degrees of tearing – the fourth obviously being the worst. Thankfully, the most common tears are the least serious.
I know people that want to be induced, and I know people that would rather just about anything else happen.
Being induced is tricky. I do think that sometimes it is pushed too soon, but other times, I believe it’s absolutely necessary.
The best thing you can do is talk with your medical provider about what they feel is grounds for induction.
I had a doctor who was planning to induce me before I was even 40 weeks because he was going out of town.
Not a good reason.
There are different methods for induction that you should discuss with your medical provider, just in case that becomes your reality.
This is a big one. Most of us have NO idea what to expect when it comes to labor pain.
There are some women who will say, “Oh it’s just like bad cramps.”
And then there are women like me who will describe it more like this, “Imagine someone putting a knife in your stomach and turning it around and around.”
The truth is – it will be different depending on the person. We all have different pain thresholds (I have a very low one), and it’s hard to tell you exactly what to expect.
The most important thing is to be prepared – especially to be prepared for a natural labor (even if you don’t want one)!
Some people are afraid of having an epidural pushed on them. Some people want the epidural, but they are deathly afraid of the needle. Some people are just afraid of the side effects.
Here’s the thing – you will find ALL sorts of information on the Internet about epidurals. Some of it good, but most of it isn’t that great. You’ll find people who will tell you that you are selfish and setting your child up for a lifetime of a failure if you get one. You’ll find people who say the epidural saved them from going insane.
Epidurals do come with risks (for instance, my mom got an epidural headache with my little brother, which was miserable), and it’s important to know them. But it’s also important to know that getting an epidural is 100% fine, and it typically isn’t that painful or scary to get. I had one with both my boys, and let me tell you, it was nothing compared to the pain I was feeling as I was getting one. The hardest part was having to sit still!
As I mention with several other things…talk to your doctor!!
Water Breaking in Public
I blame Hollywood for this one – they always make it seem like such a dramatic event that precedes every birth.
Only about 15% of women will have their water break before they go into labor. Mine never broke on its own!
And really, if it does break on its own, it usually won’t be just a huge gush of water like in the movies. Sometimes that might happen, but usually, it’s more of a slow leak.
It’s not a big deal if it does break in public. People might think it’s weird, but hey, you’ll probably never see them again!
Unnecessary Medical Interventions
Again, talk with your doctor about your concerns. This is one of the most important things you can do. I would avoid visiting your BabyCenter birth board to discuss medical interventions – you’ll get all sorts of horror stories that may or may not be true.
Some medical interventions are necessary and you need to accept that. Some are required for a hospital birth. However, there is some wiggle room for some things.
If you are having an uncomplicated pregnancy, you may consider going to a midwife. They typically are a little more hands-off than some OBGYNs (though there are wonderful OBGYNs as well!). I would just ask around to local mom’s groups, your friends, etc.
Unsupportive Medical Team
While you can typically pick your doctor (or at least medical practice) for giving birth, you can’t always pick everyone involved.
With Jack, I only had one doctor, and unless he was out of town, he was the doctor that would deliver my baby.
With Oliver, I was with Kaiser, and I never saw the same doctor. When I went to have him, it was whoever was on call – and they have A LOT of OBGYNs. I actually loved the doctor who delivered him, but when I went in the first time, I was actually a little relieved they sent me home because it was the one doctor I couldn’t stand (she made me cry and seemed too disconnected).
If you want to know exactly who is delivering your baby, make sure you pick a practice that all but guarantees you’ll see your preferred provider. If you go to a practice with multiple doctors, make sure you get to know them all.
If you get a nurse that you hate, you can request a new one. Don’t be afraid to do that. You shouldn’t feel intimidated or scared because you don’t mesh with your nurse.
Some people hire doulas, which can be great, but I recommend this article to help you decide: Should you hire a doula?
Baby Being in the NICU
I don’t think anyone dreams of having their baby sent to the NICU.
While NICUs are amazing places, they can also be scary. Sometimes baby’s will just got in there for a short time to be monitored, and other times, babies are in there for months.
Having a baby who is struggling is so hard. While I never had a child in the NICU, both of my boys were hospitalized as infants, and those were some of the most trying times of my life.
If your baby does end up in the NICU, just remember that is the best place they can be and that it is a wonderful time be a live when there are so many advances in medicine that allow babies to have a fighting chance.
Switched at Birth
I think all of us have read a story at one time or another about a set of babies who were switched at birth.
This would be terrifying, and if you’ve read the stories, it would make sense that you’d be worried. I mean, I was watching Jane the Virgin a few seasons back before O was born, and (spoiler alert) Jane’s son, Mateo, was just swiped right out of the hospital!
Fortunately, if you are giving birth at a hospital, there are a lot of security measures nowadays. I almost felt like we were on prison lockdown after Oliver was born.
And, if you are still nervous, just make sure you are always with your baby. You certainly have every right to be!
How to Combat These Fears
While I don’t have a magic potion that will help all your fears about giving birth disappear, there are some things you can do to help yourself feel more at ease:
- Take a prenatal/hospital class. I think this is one of the best things you can do – you can ask questions, feel more comfortable, and just learn more about the process of giving birth. There are NO dumb questions. Many hospitals offer these, which are great. However, I also highly recommend Hilary’s online prenatal class. Hilary is an experienced labor and delivery RN, and her class is informative, funny, and to the point. So definitely consider it (there are several different price options, as well).
- Take a tour – whether you are giving birth at a hospital or a birth center, consider taking a tour. I didn’t get to take one before Jack was born, but I did take one at the hospital Oliver was born at. Even though I had been through labor before, it was nice to be able to see the facilities so I felt more comfortable when the big day arrived.
- Talk with friends and family – some of my biggest concerns were relieved when talking with friends and family who had given birth before. I felt more prepared because I talked with my mom and sisters and knew what to expect. Be sure to join our Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Group on Facebook – you are always welcome to ask any questions!
- Have a supportive physician – does your doctor or midwife take the time to answer your questions…or do they try and rush through as quickly as possible? Many physicians are busy and will do this, but I urge you to take the time to find a medical provider who listens to you and your concerns. There’s nothing more frustrating during pregnancy than having a physician who brushes off your concerns (especially when there is good reason for them…like, your baby only being 4 1/2 pounds at 37 weeks).