Fear of the unknown is entirely natural. For many mothers-to-be, the prospect of labour poses some panic. But, the best way to ease your labour fears is to be as educated as possible about what to expect, so you can (hopefully) give birth with confidence!
Will I make it to the hospital on time?
Statistically, signs point to yes. You may have heard a story or two about women giving birth on freeways, but these are the exception. The average labour generally takes about eight hours. So, unless you live a city or two away from your hospital, there’s a high chance you will arrive with plenty of time.
Tip: Call your midwife or birthing specialist as soon as you experience signs of labour. Based on your symptoms, they will be able to tell you whether or not it’s time to head to the hospital. Also, remember that countless women give birth safely in hospital, but only crazy stories make news.
What if I poop while pushing?
No big deal – it happens to the best of us (and most, in fact)! You are likely the only one in the delivery room with this concern. When your little one is ready to exit, you have to rely on a bundle of muscles to push them out, including those in your rectum. Just like childbirth itself, it’s completely natural. Most seasoned nurses and midwives can quickly remove the evidence before you realised it even happened.
What about tearing?
Vaginal tearing refers to a laceration between the vagina and rectum that occurs as you’re pushing. This side effect is entirely natural and highly common among first-time mothers. Depending on the degree of your tear, you may require some stitches after birth and will likely experience some discomfort. The good news is that by week two, the tear will be mostly healed, and the stitches dissolved. The even-better news is that after your first vaginal birth, your tissue becomes more flexible, which makes tearing less likely for future deliveries.
What if I need a c-section?
Whether or not it’s in your birth plan, you should brace yourself for the possibility of a c-section. If complications do occur, a c-section could be the safest option for you and your baby. If your heart is set on delivering vaginally, be clear with your doctor and let them know that a c-section should be the last resort. It’s important to keep yourself informed about the realities of c-sections; this way you’ll be a little more prepared for the scenario should it occur.
What if I can’t handle the pain?
Oh, but you can, and you will! By this time, you are well-aware that childbirth is not pain-free. However, fearing this pain will only intensify your discomfort. Fear itself can make you breathe faster, become anxious, heighten your blood pressure, and tense up your muscles, which can all up the pain factor.
Going to childbirth classes, talking to other mothers, practising relaxation techniques and educating yourself about the birthing process can help to ease some of this pre-birth tension. You can also talk to your doctor about possible pain medication, like an epidural. Keep in mind that it’s natural to feel nervous about delivery, and countless other mothers-to-be are experiencing the same concerns.
Do remember that the pain you experience has a positive purpose: to thin and open your cervix in preparation for your baby’s arrival. Eventually, this pain ends, and you are left with your brand-new bundle of joy. In the meantime, keep yourself informed but steer clear of those scary stories!