There are so many worries and concerns when it comes to being pregnant, with perhaps the largest surrounding what might potentially happen during labor and delivery. After all, labor is the main event culminating in delivering that precious baby you’ve been waiting nine long months to meet. Remember that most things are way worse in our heads than they tend to be in real life, and wasting time worrying about what could be is never a good thing.
For some women, pregnancy may also become a worrisome and fearful event. If this fear assumes a pathological dimension, it may become a condition called tokophobia, which requires further evaluation and treatment.
Knowledge is power so we compiled top worries about labor and delivery along with information on how to conquer them!
Will I be able to handle the pain?
In most cases, labor comes on very gradually. You start out with what feels like menstrual cramps, which grow in intensity. By the time, you are active labor, you are more than likely in the hospital where your doctor, midwife, and nurses can help alleviate your pain. You should discuss your intended plan for pain relief during the third trimester to learn about what options are available and what might work best for you. With a supportive team of doctors and nurses as well as your family around you, you may find that you are much stronger than you think.
What if something goes wrong?
You’ve likely heard horror stories from women you know who have related stories about the things that went wrong in their labor and delivery. Remember that most stories are exaggerated. However, as with any medical event, there is no guarantee that everything will go right. Yet there is no reason to worry about the maybes. The best way to guard against anything going off course during labor is to have regular prenatal visits and testing and a superb doctor or midwife that you trust who knows you and your medical history.
What if I don’t make it to the hospital in time?
Most labors start off gradually and you will know when it is time to get to the hospital. Yes, there are those stories of women who gave birth in traffic in the backseat of a cab or in the subway, but the odds are all for you not being one of them.
Think you could be in labor now? Take our labor quiz!
What if I will need a C-section?
Most women are able to deliver vaginally but if you do end up needing a cesarean section but rest assured that your doctor will perform the surgery in order to get the baby out in the quickest way possible to keep the baby healthy.
About 80% of cesarean sections are done for one of the following four reasons:
- Repeat cesarean section
- Abnormal labor progress
- Non-reassuring fetal status (some call it "fetal distress")
- Breech (baby with the head up/butt down)
If you already have an epidural, you can likely stay awake to greet your new baby and you won’t feel any pain. Recovery from C-section may be slightly longer than a vaginal birth but pain relief and resuming activity after the surgery has improved a lot over the years.
What if I can’t push out the baby?
The thought of the baby inside your huge belly ever coming out can indeed be mind-boggling. If you’re a first-time mom, you may be thinking, “How is it possible?” Your body is a tremendously capable machine and knows exactly what it needs to do when you go into labor. Muscles and skin stretch all on their own to enable birth to happen. If you need help moving the baby along, your doctor or midwife will be right there to help.
What if I lose control of my bladder, or even worse, my bowels?
Even the least modest woman may have a fear of losing control of bodily function during labor but you must remember that doctors, nurses, and midwives have seen it all. Not only are they not fazed by it, but they are used to it. They are also quite fast and discreet in cleaning up any messes, and with all the pressure of the baby coming out, you may not even know that anything happened. Some doctors and midwives offer an enema prior to delivery to help your bowels be clear, which may help to push and you can discuss this with your doctor or midwife in your third trimester.
What if I scream or curse at my partner or hospital staff?
It’s a very amusing scenario to see pregnant women screeching curses at their partners during labor, but labor doesn’t change your personality. Yes, you may scream or grunt or breathe heavily but you will not go from ‘thank you honey’ straight to expletives (unless that is your typical speech!)
What if I’m unable to sit still during the epidural because I’m terrified of needles?
Yes, the thought of a needle going straight into your spine is not a comforting one. However, under the hands of a skilled anesthesiologist, you may not feel much at all. And once the medication kicks in, you will consider it one of the best things you’ve done. An advantage of the epidural is that it allows most women to fully participate in the birth experience (continue to feel touch and pressure) while relieving most, if not all, of the pains of labor. Doctors and nurses are on hand to help calm you and get into the best position so the epidural works the first time and is inserted with the least amount of disruption.