It's normal to be nervous about labor. Fear of the unknown, along with stories shared by well-meaning but slightly clueless friends, can drive even the most levelheaded mom-to-be to bite her nails. We put the most common fears into perspective.Worry #1: A Painful Labor
This may be your top fear. "Let's put it this way," my best friend Julie told me, "I wanted an epidural when my pregnancy test came back positive." Kara Corridan, of Springfield, New Jersey, used to have nightmares of being carted off to the delivery room screaming in agony.
Contractions do hurt, says Jennifer Krupp, M.D., maternal fetal medicine fellow at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. But there are many, many options for managing pain, "including narcotics, epidurals, other medicines -- and nonpharmacologic options, too, such as walking around, being in the tub, and changing positions," she says. That means, for the most part, how much pain you undergo is well within your control -- with a doctor's assistance.
As for Corridan, "the reality was that a few hours after I was induced, my doctor said, 'So, you ready for your epidural?' " she recalls. "I said, 'Already? I'm not really hurting yet.' And she said, 'I don't need to see how much pain you can take -- do you?' " (In fact, many mothers-to-be report that induction is slightly more painful due to increased contractions.) Corridan still regards her doctor as "my hero."