All About You
Your fears—of delivery, failure as a parent, changing lives and relationships, finances, pain, and more—are all common. Talking about them can help. Writing them in a journal can help, too. And sharing them with your partner (who is undoubtedly feeling some of the same fears) can aid you both as you work through these challenging times.
As your baby bump expands, you may experience a few growing pains: Your skin may itch as it stretches. Meals may be smaller, but you may want to eat more often as your stomach has less room. Heartburn and indigestion can be frequent as your stomach is pushed up closer to your esophagus. And the added baby weight puts pressure on your bladder, meaning you’re still visiting the bathroom often.
Fear of Labor
If you’re terrified by the idea of labor, you’re not alone. Maybe you worry you won’t know you’re going into labor, that the pain will be too intense, or that you’ll have an emergency C-section. Theses concerns are normal, but by learning more about what scares you, you’ll feel better about delivery day.
Worried about knowing you’re in labor: In the weeks leading up to your baby’s birth you may feel Braxton Hicks contractions regularly. These false contractions, which feel like a tightening in the abdomen, give your uterus a slight workout. Once you slow down, put your feet up, and have a glass of water these contractions usually subside.
There’s a helpful method to figure out whether your contractions are false or labor-inducing, explains Dr. William Camann, MD, director of obstetric anesthesia at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and coauthor of Easy Labor: Every Woman’s Guide to Choosing Less Pain and More Joy During Childbirth. Touch your finger to your nose—feel the resistance? Now put your finger on your forehead. It feels tighter, harder. The difference in touch between the two is like the difference between Braxton Hicks and real contractions. Your forehead is like real contractions, tight and hard, explains Dr. Camann, whereas your nose is still hard but slightly squishy, as with false contractions.
Braxton Hicks contractions may make you nervous, but they’re normal. Let your healthcare provider know the frequency of any false labor pains. Keep in mind that as you get closer to your due date, your healthcare provider will be able to evaluate whether you may go into labor sooner than expected. Your appointments, once monthly, will now be biweekly—and later, weekly.
There are plenty of women who have gone to the hospital thinking they’re in labor, only to have the contractions stop. If you have any concerns or doubts, call your healthcare provider.
Worried about the pain of labor: Concerned labor will be painful? Many women are. You have several options when it comes to pain management on delivery day. Now is the time to talk to your healthcare provider about your birth plan. A birth plan is simply what you have in mind for your delivery. You can type up a document to give to your healthcare provider or go over your preferences in the doctor’s office. Before you prepare this plan, discuss with your healthcare provider what pain medications may interest you.
By preparing a birth plan and understanding your options, you should feel better about pain you may experience during childbirth. Remember that you may change your mind once in labor: maybe you’ll decide to go without medications; maybe you’ll choose stronger pain medications than you planned on.
Taking childbirth classes may also ease your labor fears. Once you have a good understanding of what will happen on delivery day you won’t have to be anxious about any surprises—you’ll know what to expect.
Worried your baby will have problems: Your fear of labor might be tied into worries your baby may have problems, or your delivery will be fraught with complications. While there are no guarantees everything with your delivery will go smoothly, complications are the exception, not the rule, reminds Dr. Camann.