Fear of Birth –
Every day I listen to women about their fear of childbirth. There is a rising caesarean section rate, which is major surgery. Many women end up exhausted, some traumatised and they talk to other pregnant women and share their stories. This can only add to the fear.
Childbirth is a natural normal life changing experience. Sometimes intervention might be necessary for a safe outcome for you and your baby, birth is not automatically a medical event the moment you become pregnant.
Fear of childbirth has become a modern day epidemic amongst pregnant women, they are worried about what might go wrong! They are afraid they will not be able to cope!
I often wonder why women are scared, and wonder is it the fear of forceps deliveries or caesarean sections which appear to be increasing. Maybe we are not preparing women and their partners adequately for labour, delivery and breastfeeding. Perhaps it is a combination of both. However I cannot emphasise the importance of good antenatal education for couples in preparation for labour, birth and caring for their baby.
Here I am going to cover some of the fears I hear from women, with some advice and reassurance to help deal with them.
Episiotomy (cut to the perineum)
An episiotomy is only carried out if necessary for example if baby is becoming distressed and needs to be delivered, an episiotomy will help speed the delivery up. If a forceps or vacuum delivery is required there is a high chance of an episiotomy. Routine episiotomy is now very rare in any hospital. The midwife or doctor will explain the procedure to you first.
A Caesarean Section
Unfortunately this is always a fear for every woman, especially with the high rate of caesarean sections it is no wonder women worry about it. Discuss your birth preferences with your partner, midwife and doctor is excellent preparation for labour and birth. Being well informed, knowledge is power, practice breathing and relaxation every day and having confidence in your ability to do it is essential.
Something happening to baby
Throughout your pregnancy it is normal to worry about something going wrong or something happening to baby, I hear lots of dreams from women. Some can be very upsetting. It is good to talk over dreams with your partner and your midwife or doctor as it helps to deal with all possibilities. Really don’t think too much about the negatives, you need to go into labour with a positive mind-set.
If your doctor is concerned about your baby for example baby is distressed, or you are distressed sometimes intervention is necessary. Remember go into labour prepared having discussed all your fears with your midwife or doctor so you are prepared for every scenario. Knowledge is power and when you have this knowledge you can make informed decisions.
Accidental bowel movement
If this happens during the delivery of your baby, the chances are you will never know, midwives are very discreet about these things. If it does happen it is completely normal. Don’t hold back keep pushing with the urge to push and deliver your baby. Many girls have diarrhoea before labour starts and this is nature’s way of emptying your bowel in preparation for birth.
If your baby’s bowels move before birth there will be meconium in the amniotic fluid. When your waters break the fluid should be clear and if it isn’t you must contact you midwife or labour suite immediately. The midwife and doctor will want to monitor your baby’s heartbeat, and check on your progress in labour. If they are concerned they may want to deliver baby straight away.
Cord around baby’s neck
A large percentage of babies a born with the cord around the neck and it rarely causes a problem. As soon as your baby’s head is out the first thing the midwife will do is check for neck cord, and if it is loose she can slip it over baby’s head and if it is a little tight she will clamp and cut it. There are occasions when the neck cord is too tight and can cause baby to become distressed if this happens your doctor will make a decision with you on the best plan for delivery.
If you develop contractions or have vaginal bleeding it is very important that you speak to the midwife or doctor. Some conditions can cause premature labour for example urinary tract infections and if caught early, labour can be stopped. However, sometimes labour starts early for no reason but be reassured premature babies do very well today with the advancement in neonatal care. If you are concerned please call your midwife or labour suite.
It is important to remember childbirth is a normal physical process, and contractions are the muscles working very hard to open up your cervix and push you baby out. Don’t think pain think contractions. They should be welcomed in a positive way bringing you closer to seeing your baby. Birth is not an illness and the contractions are not causing any harm. There are many forms of pain relief for women who want to use them. Discuss your birth preferences with your partner and midwife, be prepared. A calm environment with supporting loving people around you a key to coping.
Delivering baby before getting to the hospital