Childbirth Fears!! Part 2
Dedicated to demystifying childbirth and reclaiming this moment for all birthing people, this is part 2 in this series dedicated to Childbirth Fears. To read Part 1 click here: What if I Poop!
What if my epidural doesn't work or I can't get one in time?
For those that want an epidural, and are counting on it, this fear is REAL! To start, medically the percentage of people whose epidurals don't work is very low. I believe it is literally 12%.
So for the average person your epidural will work beautifully and bring you much sweet relief. However, if you are the small percentage where it doesn't work you need to ensure that you are speaking up and letting your medical staff know. It is possible that it just needs to be redone, adjusted and placed differently. For most people this adjustment will fix the issue and you will be able to get some much needed rest and sleep as your labor continues.
If after the anesthesiologist adjusts it and you still aren't feeling relief then, sorry to say, you are one of the lucky 12%. Your goal from that point on is to remain as calm as possible. You need to place all your attention on your on your breath and try to relax as much as you can. You WILL get through it as childbirth is only temporary!
Now, let's address the possibility of missing the window to receive an epidural. Let me ease your fears, as for the majority of people, this simply will not happen. As a doula I have been with families that got an epidural at 10 centimeters dilated. If there is time, your medical staff WILL help you get your epidural! I should also add that for most first timers there is ALWAYS time! Unfortunately, babies don't just fall out average for first timers is about 24 hours!
What if the cord is wrapped around the baby's neck?
This is a VERY common fear as I believe most parents worry that the baby's air way will be compromised. We think that the baby may be strangled and deprived of air. However, babies in utero ARE NOT breathing!!
It is important to understand the anatomy of the cord. The umbilical cord is thick, strong and flexible. It is also coated with "jelly" that makes it very slippery and helps it glide. The cord essentially acts like a looping system. The placenta pulls oxygen and nutrients from the mother's blood into the placenta. The cord takes this oxygenated and nutrient dense blood into your baby's body. The blood then circulates through your baby and comes out through the cord again traveling back into the placenta to get more oxygen and nutrients. This looped system means that your baby's blood is already oxygenated when it enters their body, hence, they are not actually breathing in utero their blood is already oxygenated!! Amazing stuff right! In addition, their lunges are still maturing and not fully developed for most of gestation.
So, if the cord is wrapped around the baby's neck it could not possibly strangle them. In fact, a cord around your baby's neck it actually very common. About 30% babies are born this way. Care providers are trained to check for this and will pull the cord over the baby's head for safety. As a doula, I have actually witnessed a baby with a cord wrapped 4 times around its neck!! The cord can also be wrapped all around your baby; looped around their foot, arms, belly.
With all this said, while 95% of such cases will have a vaginal outcome some families may need a cesarean for a safe delivery. There are extreme cases where the cord is wrapped so tightly around baby's body that the baby can not drop low enough to emerge. If the cord is encumbering the baby from coming down than ultimately we need to have a safe delivery of the baby. Thank goodness we have cesarean births for this reason.
What if I can't manage the pain?
I know that this is a main fear for many birthing people. Pain is a major reason for fearing childbirth. It is the major reason why some birthing people hate/dislike their experience. Pain is the major reason I am a birth worker.
It is important to understand that most all amazing, powerful, transformative events in our lives come with pain. Think about it. Remember one of the harder things you have done in your life; a marathon, hiking Half Dome, working on an advanced degree, yoga, dating, heart break, grief, the loss of a loved one. All such things can be painful AND powerful. Major life events can be painful AND transformative as we may see the world in a completely new way, we may find our life's path through that pain, we may feel more connected to our authentic selves than ever before; pain is conduit of change.
When we move through a major moment in our lives, no matter what that maybe, we must realize that our pain is communication. Your body is helping you recognize that things are happening, you are changing, you are becoming, you are doing ... Pain is your body communicating with you and in labor your pain is your guide.
Remember, childbirth doesn't mean you are sick or injured. Sensations in labor tell you to pay attention, move your body, get to a safe place cause something BIG is happening. Pain is a warning system and one we are truly lucky to have! Imagine your life without pain ... how would you know when you are sick? Injured? In need? How would you take care of yourself? How would you know that your body needs your attention? Even hunger pains are powerful!
I want to encourage you to not fear your pain - pain is NOT bad. Befriend your pain, get to know your body well and the tools that help you embrace your experience. The more you fight and resist your pain, the more you will suffer. Pay attention, practice self awareness, invest in self care and you can change your birth experience! Build your tool box, educate yourself (we offer an amazing birth class: Connected Childbirth), get to know how you respond to pain and what works best for you. In addition, in our modern medical age you can always receive advanced pain relief with medication.
What if I have to have a cesarean?
For many people dreaming about the day they give birth, the possibly of needing a cesarean can cause a great deal of fear. First and fore most, we need to recognize that while we may want to avoid a cesarean delivery sometimes they are absolutely necessary.
There are ways to minimize this outcome; the right care provider, childbirth education, advocation, avoiding induction and intervention. AND, it is still possible that you may need a cesarean. Even after pushing for several hours a cesarean birth may be in the cards ...
Ultimately, the hard part is the realization that you are not in control of your birth! As much as we can encourage things to go one way and hope for a specific outcome, we are not in control here. Believe it or not, your baby is actually in control, they will dictate how they are born. One of the greatest lessons our children offer us is the realization that we are actually not in control.
Birth is a HUGE opportunity to release control and learn how to accept and embrace your journey. No matter HOW you birth your baby, releasing control is KEY! While many of us resist this process, as we micro-manage every minute of the day, it is actually quite amazing to shed this responsibility. To simply relax into the great unknown and allow your path to unfold instead of trying to control it.
We really need to see cesarean birth for what it is, a modern MIRACLE! We are so very lucky that we live in a day and age when this option is safe and available. I completely recognize the need, desire and importance of avoiding this option as it is major surgery that comes with its own risks. However, sometimes this is our only option. AND, as I have sat at the bedside of many cesarean families, opting to have major surgery to welcome your baby into the world is INCREDIBLY BRAVE!
So, if you find yourself here recognize the generations of brave women you join, give yourself all the grace in the world, be proud of yourself and the strength this moment asks of you!
Congratulations!! I hope that this information has been useful. Enjoy your Labor of Love!