The Truth About Childbirth

What's it like to go through labor and childbirth? I'm in the last trimester of my pregnancy, and I've been getting a little anxious. I've heard horror stories about incredible pain, fainting husbands, and screaming wives. Is it really that bad?

Most first-time mothers fear labor and delivery. Tales of incredible pain, fainting husbands, and screaming wives can seriously rattle your confidence and raise your anxiety level. But the fact of the matter is that childbirth can often be something quite different. Here are some helpful points to keep in mind as your due date approaches.

First, labor pain is manageable. Some women, believing that pain of labor detracts from the joy of childbirth, choose to take medication so they can be more relaxed and enjoy giving birth. Others opt to deal with the pain of uterine contractions by using breathing and relaxation techniques. Whatever you decide, the important point is that the pain can be managed. If you doubt it, just remember the words of this mom: “I realized labor could not be as bad as other women told me. Many of these moms were mothers of multiple children. If labor was as bad as they claimed, you would think they would have stopped after one child!” Now that’s what we call sound reasoning.

Second, in cases where it’s needed, a C-section is a commonly utilized option. There are situations in which a woman is unable to have a vaginal delivery – for example, when the baby is in the “breech” position, when the mother’s pelvis is too small, in instances of placentia previa (a condition in which the placenta lies unusually low in the uterus), or when other health issues or signs of physical distress make normal delivery potentially harmful. When necessary, it’s relatively easy and simple for the doctor to deliver the child surgically. This is not unusual, nor is it a reason to panic. It’s certainly not a sign of “failure” on the part of the mother.

Third, fears about not bonding with your child as a result of the “trauma” of childbirth are almost completely unfounded. It’s true that some women, due to factors like the exhaustion of a long labor, don’t sense an immediate link with their babies, but such feelings are relatively rare, and they usually vanish as soon as a mom begins spending time with her child.

The good news is that there are things you can do to prepare for this experience. You and your spouse can attend prenatal classes so that the onset of contractions and the various stages of the labor and delivery process won’t take you by surprise. You can talk to other moms who have positive things to say about their birthing experiences. You can discuss your fears and questions with your doctor. Be sure to write them down before the appointment – it’s common to think of questions after you’ve left the doctor’s office. And you can discuss your anxieties as a couple ahead of time. For example, if you’re the wife, are you concerned that you’ll yell at your husband during contractions? If you’re the husband, are you afraid you might fall apart at the sight of blood? If so, talk about it. You’d be surprised how much it helps to get these issues out in the open.

If you’re still worried, and if you think it might be helpful to discuss your concerns at greater length with a member of our staff, we hope you’ll feel free you to call Focus on the Family’s Counseling department. They’d be pleased to assist you in any way they can.

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