Calming Labor Fears

The first pregnancy can be an exciting time for women. But all the horror stories you hear about labor might make you fearful of the big day. Tricia O'Brien, Features Editor for American Baby Magazine, helps to ease your concerns and put labor into perspective.

The first fear most women think of is you are going to be in terrible pain while delivering your baby. It's true contractions are painful, but there are many options for managing the pain. You can take medications like epidurals, or other alternatives, like walking around, being in a tub or changing positions. Keep in mind, how much pain you go through is within your control with a doctor's assistance.

Everyone has seen the story on the news of the women who gives birth in the car on the way to the hospital. But the chances of this actually happening to you are slim, especially for fist-time moms. In the unlikely this were to happen, if you cut the umbilical cord, clear the baby's nostrils and mouth, and swaddle him, he'll likely be just fine.

Some women also fear the epidural won't work. But it's worth remembering if it doesn't work, the doctor can put in another one. You'll be monitored in the hospital and you can communicate your needs to your doctor and the nurses.

And if you are one of those people who are scared of needles, it's alright. The epidural doesn't hurt. The most painful part is when they numb you first with a tiny needle, it feels like a little bee sting. Once that's in, you won't feel the epidural going in. Also, most anesthesiologists work behind you, so you won't even see the needle going in

You might also be concerned labor will go on for 36 hours. It's good to know, there are different stages of labor. Early labor, when you just begin to dilate, can last as long as a few hours or days. But it isn't necessarily uncomfortable. Active labor, when contractions are longer and more intense, typically last only 8 hours. On the plus side, most doctors won't let you go longer than 24 hours once your water has broken.

And finally, you might be worried you'll need to have a c-section. Many pregnant women have an idea in their head that they will be having their baby one way. But sometimes it's necessary to have a c-section because something is going wrong in labor. The most important thing is that mom and baby are ok. Remember, labor is not something you can have total control over.

For more information on delivering a baby and other parenting tips, click here.

by Jenn Eaker and Tricia O'Brien