Monday, September 5, 2011

Fear of childbirth

I’m feeling all third trimester-y these days – huge, achy, full-bladdered every 30 minutes, hungrier than the average teenager, scared to look in a mirror if I’m less than fully clothed, jolted yet heart-warmed by hourly kicking and prodding of my internal organs, etc.

And then there’s the ultimate indication that the end is near: I’m starting to panic about childbirth. For months I’ve let my mind skim over this inevitable part of the process. I'm both terrified and fascinated by the physics of how this actually happens. But reality is quickly setting in.

Lately I’ve been having nightmares about it. I have this fear that once the time comes I’ll be thinking um, okay, never mind, I’ve changed my mind, I don’t want to do this anymore as if that’s somehow an option.

And I love hearing stories from other women about their experiences – in fact I actively, almost obsessively, seek out these anecdotes on blogs and forums – but this almost always makes things worse. Friends will tell me their horrific childbirth tales in an it’s-funny-now-but-wasn’t-so-much-then sort of way, and at the end tack on the disclaimer “Oh, but I’m sure that won’t happen to you.” Gee, thanks.

Dr. Steven Suba, OB/GYN on the medical staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest Fort Worth, said it’s totally normal for pregnant women to fear childbirth. His advice? Make a plan, but don’t be afraid to veer away from it in the heat of the moment.

“Bringing a birth plan helps the doctors and nurses get on the same frequency and gives you a sense of control,” Dr. Suba said. “You dictate what you want to do. You want to walk while you’re in labor? You can walk while you’re in labor. You make the choices, and we’re here to tell you what’s medically possible.”

However, it’s important to give yourself permission to change plans when you are actually going into labor, he said, because you won’t know what it’s like until you do it. One of the most common questions he gets from patients is whether or not to get an epidural. He often tells them it’s okay to make that decision when the time comes.

“Know that you can change your mind, and that no one will judge you for it,” he said.

Thus far my “birth plan” has pretty much consisted of a.) give me an epidural, and b.) get this baby out safely, using whatever means necessary. But after my conversation with Dr. Suba I’m wondering if I should give this some more detailed thought, if for no other reason than to make myself feel a little more in control and hopefully get rid of these nightmares. It’s reassuring to know I can change my mind on some things – except for, you know, giving birth to the baby. That part is pretty much set in stone.

What about you? Did you make a birth plan, and if so do you feel like it helped your experience?

Megan Brooks is a Sr. Public Relations Specialist for Texas Health Resources and Stepmom who is about 10 weeks away from her due date (and from facing her fear).

Doctors on the medical staff are not employees or agents of the hospital.

No comments:

Post a Comment