Your biggest birthing fears sorted. Kind of.
It sounds like right before you die from pain, you are rewarded with a baby. And then when you have said baby, you’re left wondering what on earth are you meant to do with it?
So I asked some (very patient) mothers and midwives to walk me through each of my childbirth fears – and if you’re like me – then I promise you’ll feel a bit better after reading this. Or maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll be even more terrified – but at least you’ll know, right?
Fear 1: Tearing. Down there.
The truth is, you will probably tear, many women do. But generally the tear won’t be too bad (a few stitches is deemed “not too bad” apparently). Yes, it sounds horribly painful but it’s highly likely you won’t be stressing about it at the time (you’ll be distracted by your adorable baby… or the drugs that you’re on).
Fear 2: Pooing on your baby
When you’re pushing to get a baby out, it’s likely that you could also, er, push a poo out. “I’ve seen poo go into a baby’s mouth before, the pediatrician said the baby would be fine and it was. Often poo can get on your baby but it happens and you shouldn’t be embarrassed about it,” says my midwife friend Emma.
Fear 3: Are there any drug options other than an epidural?
YES. Generally you can start with gas, then you can try morphine injections and then the next step is an epidural. But there is another non-drug option that can help.
Sterile water injections into two pressure points in the back can work like acupressure, helping to ease the pain of contractions.
Only thing is, the injection apparently hurts like a wasp’s sting. Wasp sting or the pain of contractions? I know, which I’d choose.
Fear 4: Your “birthing plan” not going to plan.
In Emma’s experience, it’s best not to have a concrete plan (apparently many midwives preach this point), because in all honestly, any plan you do have will probably go to shit. “Having said that, it’s good to do reading and research and have ‘birth wishes’ because you never know what’s going to happen and it’s good to know what you want,” she says.
Fear 5: What happens if I just can’t get the baby out?
I have been assured that it isn’t possible for the baby to refuse to come out and live a happy, albeit cramped, life within you. Thank goodness for that. Emergency c-section, vacuum and forceps will do the trick. Fun.
Fear 6: But I don’t want everyone to see me naked.
Trust this mother, Jacqui, you will NOT care about being nude in front of a room of strangers while giving birth: “When I was pregnant with my first son, I worried about the delivery. Not so much the birth itself (well, I did worry about that) but I also worried about being naked in a room full of strangers. It was confronting and overwhelming. I wasn’t looking forward to it.”
“I ended up in the hospital for three days waiting for that baby to be born. In the end, I don’t think there was a single staff member that hadn’t had their hands up my bits. The funny thing is though, I worked myself up for nothing. For the midwives and doctors on a maternity ward, it’s totally normal.”
“They see lady bits all day, every day and it actually just makes their job harder when clothes get in the way. In the end, I could not have cared less if I strolled down the hallways in my birthday suit, I just wanted that kid out of there!”
Fear 7: What happens if I won’t be able to breastfeed?
This is common and it’s not the worst thing in the world. “Breastfeeding can be really hard for many mothers,” Emma says. “Sometimes the baby won’t attach to the the nipple, sometimes it’s too painful, sometimes there’s not enough milk. There are heaps of reasons why it might not work and it’s perfectly normal.” Your midwives will be able to talk you through it.
Fear 8: If I have a cesarean will I be able to be present in the moment?
Yes, yes, you will. “You’re still awake (unless it’s an emergency c-section) and when the baby is born they’ll be lifted up over the drapes and placed on your chest so you can have that skin-to-skin contact,” Emma assures me. “In some in instances women have pulled their baby out of their own uterus once the doctor has made the incision.” Two words: brave women.
Fear 9: What if things don’t go according to plan?
Please refer to Fear 4 and accept that it probably won’t. Sorry.
Fear 10: What if I don’t love my baby?
Mother-of-two Holly says when it comes to love, you might have one of two reactions. “It’s something of a patronising thing to say, but when it comes to becoming a parent, you really can’t imagine what you haven’t experienced. From the outside, why would anyone want to love this squally little demanding thing that has come to swallow your life? It’s not even ‘that’ cute. You just do. It’s absolutely profound and strange that this ‘stranger’ so instantly becomes something you would die and kill for. It’s deeply alarming. But lots of women do not love their babies straight away”.
“It is really, really common for women to go through birth and NOT feel the instant rush of love that I describe. For the majority of those women, the love will come. Because you will create it. And although early motherhood can feel like this one-way street where you’re giving, giving, giving, eventually you realise that you’re getting, too. And it feels good.”
“The important thing is not to push yourself, thinking ‘I should be feeling this, I should be feeling that’. Because early parenthood in particular is more complex than the Hallmark slogans allow. You have to let it go (your least favourite advice!) and let your love be complex and difficult, at times, but there.”