Most women have at least some level of anxiety when it comes to childbirth. First-time moms are especially prone to worry about the unknown, and some even have a straight-up phobia of childbirth, called tokophobia, that goes far beyond normal levels of worry.
But just relax, mama. Humankind exists because of childbirth. You can do this! Information and education are your best defense against stress and worry.
Here are 5 things many women worry about but shouldn’t, and 5 things that are actually worth your concern regarding labor.
The idea of pooping while laying with your legs wide open in front of a bunch of strangers is definitely embarrassing, but this will be the LEAST of your concerns during labor. In fact, a lot of women do poop during labor and don’t even notice. Nurses are so quick to clean it up and with everything else coming out of you, poop will be no big deal.
Many women worry about whether or not to shave before labor, considering how many people will be peeking down there. First of all, if you can even manage to shave your legs at 9 months pregnant, props to you. But shaving your va-jay-jay should not be high on your priority list. In fact, it might cause irritation and itching, which is much worse than hair. Your doctors and nurses don’t mind.
Not making it to the hospital in time
This is one of those fears that is most prevalent among first time moms who don’t realize how long labor takes from beginning to end. Most likely it will be hours, even a few days, between the beginning of real labor and actual delivery. Of course, you will hear the stories of the women who give birth in the car, but the odds of this happening are low. More often than not, women get to the hospital too early and get sent home.
Modern medicine has provided pain management techniques that mean you will hardly have to feel anything during labor if you choose. However, if you want a pain-med-free childbirth and are worried about the pain, realize that labor pain is not constant. Contractions come and go, so you have time to breath and brace yourself. There are things you can do besides medication to manage the pain, also. Breathing techniques and trying different positions can help you manage pain.
Your vagina will never be the same
You will be surprised at how elastic you are down there, and how good your body is at bouncing back. The tiniest of women have given birth to 9 and 10 pound babies without tearing or episiotomies. Even with tearing or an episiotomy, your body is incredibly good at healing itself. Give it time, but don’t worry about this one.
This fear is worth your focused time and attention. Pay attention to your body and don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor with any worries of premature labor. Learn the signs and how to differentiate between Braxton Hicks and true labor contractions.
Holding your breath
It’s natural to hold your breath during contractions and pushing, but it’s very important to keep breathing during labor and not hold your breath. Your doctor and nurses will keep reminding you to breathe, but pay attention to your breathing and even practice breathing techniques before labor so you are ready.
Feeling pressured into decisions
Having a birth plan is a good idea, but it’s important to be flexible. That said, it’s okay to ask for explanations and understanding of procedures before you agree to them. Most unplanned procedures are done for the safety and wellbeing of the baby or you, but it’s okay to ask questions and make sure you feel good about them before agreeing.
Let me clarify – it’s okay to be worried about the possibility of a C-section, because it is a major surgery. However, it’s important to do your research into the reasons for a C-section. They are often done to save lives. If you don’t have any complications during pregnancy or previous pregnancies your chances of having a C-section are not big, but it’s still important to understand how they are performed so you are not wracked with fear if you must have a C-section.
When you realize you’re in active labor, your adrenaline will be pumping and you’ll probably feel very eager. However, active labor can take hours or longer, so it’s important not to over-exert yourself, especially when you have a chance to rest. When you’re finally fully-dilated and it’s time to push you will need your strength, so try to conserve your energy for the end.
What were your fears about labor?