More on conquering fears of childbirth
Coping strategies. The best way to cope with childbirth is to learn not to fear it. Yes, some of labor will be uncomfortable, and some of it will hurt. But there are many avenues for pain management. You will get through it, just as many generations of women have gotten through it before you. And at the end of the day you will hold your baby in your arms. What you need now are strategies for diminishing your fear.
Figure out why you're so afraid. For instance, if your medical history includes a past miscarriage or stillbirth, a difficult delivery with a previous child, or excessive exposure to traumatic labor stories, you need more information about labor and delivery and reassurance that your pregnancy is going well. Write down your concerns about medication, cesarean deliveries, and your baby's well-being. Share these fearful scenarios with your provider, who can help you work out strategies for coping.
Consider talking to a therapist. Research has shown that women with an intense fear of labor who talk to therapists may have shorter labors and fewer unnecessary cesarean deliveries than those who don't seek therapy. Your provider may be able to provide a referral to a good therapist.
Finally, shut out the negative stories. Steer clear of scary television shows on childbirth, and if your friends start regaling you with their own labor travails, ask them to change the subject. Learn relaxation skills and find a trusted midwife or doula to help you put them into practice during these final weeks of pregnancy. She will also stay by your side and ease your fears during labor and delivery.
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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