How to calm fears about labor pain
If you’re feeling nervous about giving birth, you’re not alone. You know that labor will be challenging. On top of that, you’ve probably heard a few labor-room horror stories. So who wouldn’t be anxious?
But it’s important that you face labor with a calm assurance that all will go well. Nervous, panicky women seem to suffer more pain during labor and may even require more pain medication. Serene, confident women appear to weather the pain. Here’s how to calm your worries:
- Review your class notes. Review what you’ve learned in your childbirth education classes. If you know what to expect during labor, you won’t be as frightened as your contractions intensify and become more frequent.
- Brush up on labor research. Read books and magazine articles about giving birth. Because each woman’s labor is different, it helps to become familiar with a variety of anecdotal histories of labor.
- Prepare a birth plan. Participate as fully as possible in the birthing experience by preparing a birth plan to help clarify your goals.
- Share your fears. Tell your partner what worries you and let him know that you’re counting on his strength and support during labor.
- Labor isn’t forever. The average is 14 hours for first-time mothers—and most of that is in the relatively easy first stage of labor. Also remind yourself that the memory of labor pain often is erased by the euphoria of seeing your newborn.
- Seek support. Talk to a friend, perhaps someone you’ve met at your childbirth education class. Share your concerns with her.
- Remember that anesthesia is available. You won’t be considered a "failure" or a "quitter" if you ask for it. There are anesthetics available that are considered safe for you and your baby when given at moderate levels—and that will allow you to participate fully in the birth.
Remember that women throughout the ages have given birth successfully with or without classes, anesthesia, and even medical supervision.