Friday, December 19, 2008

well this makes me feel so much better...

weekly email from

Week 39: Labor Fears

"I hear all these nightmare labor stories — how will I handle the pain?"
What type of labor story is a better tell? One embellished with horror ("My water broke in the middle of the supermarket." "The hospital sent me back home three times because I wasn't really in labor yet, and then I practically gave birth on the freeway." "I was in back labor for 53 hours"), or one that's peaceful, calm, and hitch-free? Though there are probably at least as many positive birth experiences as there are negative ones, the truth is that an easy and uneventful labor and delivery makes for a much less compelling anecdote. Which means that the good birth stories don't get circulated as much as the bad ones do.

So keep that in mind as you consider the following: Childbirth is a normal life process — something women have been experiencing as long as…well, as long as there have been women. It comes with pain, sure, but it's a pain with a purpose, a positive purpose: to thin and open your cervix, and bring your baby one step closer to your arms. And it's also a pain with a built-in time limit on it. You might not believe it (especially somewhere around the five-centimeter mark), but labor won't last forever. Not only that, but the pain of childbirth is a pain you don't even have to endure at all if you don't want to. Pain medication is always just a request away, should you end up needing it or wanting it.

Something else to keep in mind (and to ease your mind): The best way to nip the fear of childbirth in the bud is to become as educated as you can about it. (In other words, what you don't know can hurt you more than it should!) So read all about it (as you're doing now), remember what you learned in your childbirth education class, watch a video or two (popcorn anyone?), and keep talking to other new moms (though take those horror stories with a grain or two of salt — and maybe some popcorn).

Finally, no matter what kind of labor you end up experiencing, you'll be much more comfortable with company. Whether you have your partner there to comfort you, a doula to massage your back, or a friend to wipe your brow — or if you really like company, all three — a little support can go a long way in easing your fears.

And remember: Generations of women before you have labored, delivered, and lived to tell (and embellish) about it. Soon you will too!

Here's to a happy ending to your childbirth tale, Heidi


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