The Top Ten Labor-Related Worries
By Ann Douglas
Hit with a bad case of stage fright now that your baby’s due date is fast approaching?
You’re certainly in good company. It’s a rare mother-to-be, after all, who doesn’t
experience at least one sleepless night wondering if she’s got what it takes to deal
with the challenges of labor.
And, for whatever reason, those labor-related worries do like to rear their ugly
heads in the wee hours of the morning, right when your baby is busy using your
bladder as a trampoline! Here’s what you need to know about each of the top
ten labor-related worries.
- I’m worried that I won’t figure out that I’m really in labor until I’m
about to give birth. We’ve all read stories about women giving birth in
grocery stores because they didn’t realize that it was “the real thing” until it
was too late. Fortunately, these types of deliveries are relatively rare – which
goes a long way toward explaining why they tend to make front-page news
when they happen! While you might have your doubts initially about whether
you’re dealing with true labor or a particularly nasty imitation, as your labor
progresses, you’ll have a better idea about what is (or isn’t) going on. And
even if you’re still stumped at that point, your doctor or midwife will be able
to step in and help you to make the definitive call. (It’s part of their job
- I’m concerned that I’ll show up at the hospital only to find out that
I’m not really in labor. It can happen to the best of us. (Heck, it even
happened to my prenatal instructor!) While it may be a bit embarrassing and
frustrating to race to the labor and delivery ward only to find out that you’re
still as pregnant as ever, no one will think any less of you for wanting to check
things out. After all, it’s a far wiser woman who heads off to labor and delivery
prematurely than she who gives birth at the side of the highway!
- I’m worried that my water will break while I’m dining out at a fancy
restaurant. Here’s a statistic that may help to reassure you: only 10% of
women experience the rupture of their membranes prior to the onset of
labor. So unless you’re planning to head for the restaurant after the contractions
start coming fast and furious, odds are you’ll be fine. And even if your water did
happen to break in the middle of the restaurant, it wouldn’t be the end of the
world.Your baby’s head would act like a cork, blocking the exit to your uterus
and slowing the flow of amniotic fluid to a mere dribble. So while you’d be
acutely aware that something unusual was happening (imagine a slight popping
sensation followed by a slow leak!), no one else in the restaurant would
necessarily be any the wiser.
- I’m worried that I’ll go into labor in my sleep and only wake up when the baby’s
head is beginning to crown. This isn’t a worry: this is wishful thinking on your part!
Seriously, your chances of sleeping through the heavy-duty labor contractions are pretty
much on par with your odds of sleeping through an earthquake, a flash-flood, or some other
natural disaster. It ain’t going to happen, sister.
- I’m petrified that I won’t be able to cope with the pain of labor. Given the number
of scary stories you’ve no doubt been exposed to over the past nine months, it’s hardly
surprising that you’re being hit with a bad case of stage fright. The best way to combat this
particular fear is to arm yourself with the facts. Read as much as you can about giving birth.
Sign up for childbirth classes. And talk to your doctor or midwife about your various pain
relief options. If you’re still feeling pretty freaked out, remind yourself that generations of
women have walked this road before and lived to tell. You will, too.
- I’m worried that I’ll lose control during labor. Fortunately, labor has not yet become
a spectator sport, so you don’t have to be unduly concerned about your “performance.” Your doctor or midwife has seen it all and certainly won’t think any less of you if you
happen to grunt, swear, or otherwise “lose it” during the heat of labor. It’s all part of the
- I’m worried that my partner won’t find me attractive once he’s seen me give
birth to our child. While you might think that witnessing a birth could prove to be the
most effective method of birth control known to man, most men find that their libido
escapes relatively unscathed. Sure, there can be a period of adjustment at first, but chances
are he’ll be fascinated rather than turned off by your post-baby body. And it’s not as if
you’re going to be eager to hop in the sack within 24 hours of the delivery either. Trust
me: you’ll have other things on your mind.
- I’m worried that there won’t be anyone around to watch my older child once I
go into labor. The best way to cope with this particular fear is to keep a list of potential
babysitters close to the phone. That way, when the moment of truth arrives, you can start
hitting speed dial. If you’re really concerned, lend your cell phone to your prime babysitting
candidate and ask her to carry it with her 24 hours a day. That should give you one less
thing to worry about.
- One of my pregnancy books talks about awful things like perineal shaves and
enemas. Do hospitals still do that sort of stuff? Chances are the pregnancy book that
you’re reading is well on its way to becoming an antique. Thankfully, perineal shaves and
enemas have pretty much gone the way of the do-do bird. Just count your lucky stars that
you’re giving birth today – not 20 years ago.
- I’m worried that labor is the easy part: that the really tough stuff will start after
the birth. While motherhood is a major challenge (particularly if this is your first time up
to bat!), generations of women before you have managed to survive that boot camp-like
experience known as postpartum. Some even went on to have subsequent children! So
try not to worry about life after baby: there will be plenty of time to think about that down
the road. And after this crash course in late-pregnancy worrying, you’ll be in fine form for
all the worrying that motherhood entails.