While pregnancy and the months preparing for the arrival of a new baby can be exciting and filled with joy, many mums to be also experience the feeling of being fearful about giving birth.
Many of the fears regarding birth can be managed and being well informed and planning ahead can assist you to be less fearful.
Here’s a list of 12 of the most common fears from pregnant patients and tips on how you might be able to manage that fear.
1. Not making it to the hospital on time
Make sure you think about how long it will take you to get to the hospital at different times of the day, and who will be around to take you to hospital. Take a practice drive into the hospital so you know which way to go and where to park.
Read this post on what to do if you don’t think you are going to make it the hospital on time.
Make sure you have up to date Ambulance Victoria subscription
2. Having life endangering complications
Having your baby at St Vincents private hospital with your own Obstetrician and a team of midwives caring for you should alleviate your worries
Talk to your Obstetrician and your partner if you have particular fears
3. Fear that the baby won’t be healthy
All the antenatal care and investigations during the pregnancy and close observation during labour will minimise risk to your unborn baby
Scans and pregnancy testing is also a time when you are likely to discuss any aspects of your babies health.
4. Having unwanted interventions
Talk to your doctor and midwife about what you want and what you really don’t want.
It is important that you attend antenatal classes so that you can be educated about possibilities of what might happen during labour,
Don’t think ‘it won’t happen to me’– it might not, but it may well happen and it is best to be informed on what you would like to happen if you do require any level of intervention.
5. Fear of being in pain
Firstly, remember this is a very common fear.
You are not going to be left in pain, you will have a team of people to support you through your labour. Your midwife will offer many suggestions at different times of your labour to help you manage any discomfort.
There are lots of options for pain relief during labour, speak with your obstetrician or midwife about what might be most appropriate at that particular stage of labour.
You might like to think about the types of pain relief you think you might like and talk to your obstetrician about it before the birth of your baby.
6. Not knowing how to care for the baby
It is not unusual to fear being responsible for a tiny baby, especially if you have never had to care for one before.
Attending antenatal classes will provide you with tips on pregnancy, birth and looking after a new baby.
The midwives will ensure you are confident/competent during your stay on the post-natal ward.
There is lots of help available after you leave hospital; the hospital will connect you with your local Maternal and Child Health Nurse who will visit you at home and have regular appointments with you
You will be connected with a local Mother’s Group, a group of mums in your area who have also recently had a baby, the Mother’s Group will often also organise sessions on caring for a newborn
There are many websites and books to read to help with how to care for a new baby.
7. Loss of privacy/modesty
Yes, having a baby can be undignified, but your obstetrician and the midwives looking after you will do their best to maintain some sense of decency.
You can choose to wear your own comfortable clothing or many women choose to birth in a hospital gown that is long enough to cover them yet is easily removed if required.
Your dignity will return very soon after delivery and you won’t think too much about it.
8. Facing the unknown
Attending antenatal classes can help with education about what to expect when you go into labour. Unfortunately we can’t always tell when labour is about to begin or how long it will take. This loss of control can be very difficult for some women, but remember to talk about it with your obstetrician.
9. Not being able to give birth
The best test of your ability to give birth is to have a go. There may be situations where you are advised otherwise by your obstetrician or midwife but in most cases the female body is amazing and somehow it all works out, even if you don’t think you can manage.
Your Obstetrician and midwife will be there to help you through the actual delivery process so don’t worry; you won’t be on your own.
Remember many babies are born by Caesarean Section so it is not your fault if you need a Caesarean Section, it will be the best decision for the future health of you and/or your baby.
Unfortunately most women having their first baby will need stitches of some sort, whether that is an episiotomy or tear. This is usually repaired under either local or regional anaesthesia and don’t worry, this area heals very well. By the time you reach your post-natal visit it is often difficult to even see where the stitches were. In most cases the stitches will be absorbable and won’t need to be taken out.
Your midwife will provide tips on how to care for any stitches.
Ice on the area helps enormously with pain relief and salt baths once you go home can be soothing.
11. Loss of sexual enjoyment due to episiotomy or tearing
This is very common in the first few months following childbirth but does improve with time. Take things slowly and gently when you first resume sexual activity, and perhaps use a lubricant. Talk to your obstetrician if you have ongoing problems as there are many things which can be done to help.
12. Premature Birth
If you think you may be in labour earlier than your due date, don’t hesitate to call the delivery suite at St Vincent’s Private or your obstetrician. They will help you to work out what you should do and where you should go. In particular you should report vaginal bleeding or loss of fluid, or significant pain which does not settle.
St Vincent’s Private Hospital has a Level 5 Special Care Nursery which can care for babies over 32 weeks gestation.
They are the only private hospital in Victoria to provide CPAP to premature babies.
Some women may be required to be admitted to hospital for bed rest, this is not common, your obstetrician will discuss this with you, should your pregnancy require higher monitoring. Not all women on bed rest have premature babies.
Babies born at earlier gestations may need to be delivered or cared for in specialised units with neonatal intensive care units. These units have amazing survival rates for babies born at very early gestations. In some situations, labour can be suppressed, buying time for baby to gain maturity. In other situations you and your baby may be transferred to one of these specialised units.
There are many ways that your birth support team can help you through the birth of your baby. Whatever your fears happen to be, ensure you ask questions and be as informed as possible.
Thank you to obstetrician Dr Meredith Tassone for providing this post.