Conceiving a baby is one thing, but giving birth is different altogether How can you prepare for something you really don't have any idea about? Something you've just heard other women talking about?
Obviously women who've already had a baby have an advantage, even though no two births are the same It's true that the second time you'll know more about what's likely to happen, but that can make you worry even more about the birth
Being anxious about the birth is a way of preparing
Whether you've already been through it or not, worrying about the birth and feeling frightened is quite natural That’s one way of preparing yourself Here are some suggestions for coping with this worry:
• Talk to your midwife Especially if you're feeling really anxious
• Birth plan Put together an action plan Start by asking yourself the following questions: What do I hope the birth will be like? Always base your questions on the sort of person you are Are you someone who likes to be in control? Or is that not so important? How do you cope with pain in general? What do you think about pain relief? What kind of pain relief would you like to have?
By asking yourself specific questions, it's easier to find out what you want the birth to be like For example, you might decide that you can cope by using relaxation techniques, or you might choose to ask for an epidural early on
• Visit the delivery suite This helps a lot of women, because if something is completely unfamiliar, it's easy to get it all out of perspective
• Read about birth
• Talk to other mums But be selective It's true that you can find out a lot by listening to other women's stories about childbirth But if they’re all about labours that lasted for three days, 1,000 stitches and huge losses of blood, they’re not going to help that much
Terrified about giving birth
If you're absolutely terrified about giving birth, perhaps because you've had a difficult labour before, you should talk to your midwife immediately If talking to her isn’t enough, you may be referred to counsellor who is trained in helping women who are afraid of giving birth
Your fears will subside
Giving birth is often described in terms ranging from "fantastic" and "intense" to "never again" and "I thought I was going to die" It can be comforting to know that as soon as labour starts, your fears will subside Your body is made to have babies It will help you And you'll forget a lot of what actually happened afterwards The main thing you'll remember will be the first time you met your baby
How do you feel about giving birth? Share your thoughts here
Are you feeling anxious? Or just plain frightened when you think about giving birth? You're not the only one. But you should share your concerns with your midwife.