What Scares You the Most About Giving Birth?

Giving birth at home scares me way less than birthing at a hospital

I’ve got about three months left until I’m supposed to get this baby out of me somehow. Given that it’s my third child, I’m not as terrified of the unknown as I was as a first-time mom–but I’ve also been through vaginal deliveries twice now, and I know what hard work it truly is. I also know that no matter how much planning I do in advance, I have little control over how labor ultimately unfolds (but I’m doing everything I can to create the most comfortable labor and delivery possible). Well, comfortable labor is an oxymoron, I guess–but maybe the best possible labor for me?

When I was pregnant with my first, I was mildly scared by the idea of my water breaking somewhere in public, like at work. I tried to let go of that fear by comforting myself with the fact that so few women go into labor with their water breaking before they have any noticeable contractions (and while my water did break in a rather dramatic fashion before I recognized I was having any contractions, I was at home on my couch on a Friday night).

When I was pregnant with my second, I was scared of having a labor and delivery like my first–in a hospital with seemingly deaf (or at least wholly uninterested and uncaring) nursing staff and an OB who gave me an episiotomy despite my begging him not to (which led to fourth-degree tearing which means there was more than the usual carnage). I countered that fear by leaving my OB’s practice and switching to that of a midwife who delivered in a hospital birthing center. When she changed to a hospital with no birthing center halfway through my pregnancy, I left her practice and switched to homebirth midwives. Then I started being scared of all of the things that could possibly go wrong and send me to the hospital in a dramatic emergency transport. I (mostly) quashed those fears through lots of talking with my midwives and I finally understood that if moving to a hospital is needed during a homebirth, it usually happens gradually enough that it’s not really dramatic at all–just getting into the midwife’s car and going with her, not being carried out on a stretcher and zooming to the nearest emergency room.

This time around, I find myself getting caught up in thinking about more stuff that’s out of my control–like my blood pressure (I have limited control over this, especially during pregnancy when it’s higher than ideal), especially what it could do while I’m under the stress of labor, and other things like what if this baby is breech (known breech deliveries are pretty rarely done by local homebirth midwives, and if they knew the baby was breech before labor started, I’d have to go to a hospital). I’m scared of other things too, like having a really big baby (she was in the 91st percentile at my last ultrasound–although I fully recognize it is WAY too early to know anything about how big or small she’ll ultimately be at birth), being in tremendous pain during labor (committing to a homebirth means committing to lack of access to things like epidurals for pain management), and a whole host of other things that like to pop into my mind in the wee hours of the night. Thus far, I’m doing a decent job of pushing all of those thoughts out of the way and focusing on the things I can control, like doing my Kegel exercises to try to make pushing more effective/efficient and planning for as much drug-free pain relief as possible (we’ve got a huge tub, I’ve got some calming oils like lavender, I’ve got a birth ball stashed away and we’ve hired a very capable doula), as I know that being freaked out will definitely not help to me achieve the kind of birth I want.

What were you most scared about in terms of childbirth, e.g. your water breaking in public, pooping on the delivery table, needing a c-section, etc.? Did any of those fears actually come true?

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Melanie Monroe Rosen is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and mom of two boys, ages 3 and 5, who is currently expecting her third (and very much final) baby in early 2013. A former senior editor at Parenting.com, Melanie was surprised to discover that all of her experience breastfeeding, homebirthing, babywearing, co-sleeping, and cloth diapering actually counted as professional experience. She’s a big fan of reading both Scandinavian mystery novels (to herself) and favorite chapter books from her childhood, like those by Roald Dahl (to her kids).

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