4. "I Won't Be Able to Handle Childbirth"
There's no way around the fact that childbirth involves pain, but you can take steps to keep yourself fairly comfortable. These days, many hospitals routinely offer women in labor various methods of pain relief, from epidurals to narcotics such as Demerol. Because information can help ease your fears, it's wise to enroll in a childbirth education class. Many hospitals offer classes, or you can find one through word of mouth. "Childbirth classes help you understand the process of birth," says Judith Lothian, RN, an associate professor in the College of Nursing at Seton Hall University, in South Orange, New Jersey. "They give you more confidence to deal with the pain."
Of course, many women opt for nonmedical approaches to pain relief, such as massage and relaxation techniques. If you choose this route, make sure the setting in which you plan to deliver will support your decision. Some doctors expect their patients to have epidurals, and it may be hard to buck the trend once you're in the middle of labor. One final piece of advice is to try to develop a positive outlook. Remember that women's bodies have handled labor since long before there were the kinds of medical relief we now rely on. Try to have faith that your body will get the job done and that the people you've chosen to assist you will help you through the rough spots.
Remember, too, that childbirth does end, usually within one day. "And then," says Dr. Greenfield, "just think of the great present you take home!"