Ready for the Big Day? Tips on Dealing With Anxiety About Childbirth

Happy pregnant woman who has overcome childbirth anxiety through mental health counseling

Finding out that you’re pregnant can be an exciting and memorable time in your life. If you and your partner are about to be parents for the first time, you likely can’t wait to welcome the person who’ll transform your partnership into a family.

Nine months is a long way to go, and your baby will grow every single day. In the beginning, you might be filled with joy and anticipation. But as your pregnancy progresses, your excitement may slow down. Gradually, you could become worried and anxious about your due date.

Such situations are understandable since pregnancy brings about many changes, which may cause you to worry about your present life. You might also be concerned about the possibility of something going wrong along the way.

What Is Childbirth Anxiety?

Whether you are a new mother or an experienced one, it’s normal for you to be nervous as your due date gets nearer and nearer. You may have a lot of questions on your mind before your delivery such as:

  • Will your baby come out healthy?
  • How will your water break?
  • Will your contractions be unbearable?
  • Do you have enough time to get to the hospital and give birth?
  • What do you need to pack in your hospital bag?
  • Will you need an epidural?
  • What happens if you have a C-section?
  • Do you have enough savings for the hospital expenses?

Signs You May Have Childbirth Anxiety

For a first-time mom, the changes that come with pregnancy can be daunting. Meanwhile, for a mother who’s given birth before, they may fear encountering the same complications they had with their past pregnancy. Being worried and scared is normal regardless of how many kids you’ve had.

However, if those feelings become too much for you to handle, you may have childbirth anxiety. The symptoms include:

  • Uncontrollable anxiousness
  • Excessive worrying about your baby and yourself
  • Inability to concentrate and focus
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Tense muscles
  • Poor sleeping conditions

Don’t take these symptoms for granted as they could lead to panic attacks if left unaddressed. When you’re having a panic attack, you may be unable to breathe properly and think that something terrible will happen. Your baby could be affected by your physical symptoms, too.

Risk Factors of Childbirth Anxiety

Developing childbirth anxiety can happen to any pregnant woman. Here are some risk factors that may add to your anxiety:

  • History of anxiety or panic attacks in the family
  • Your personal history of depression, panic attacks, or anxiety
  • Past traumas
  • Use of illegal drugs
  • Constant stress

Effects of Stress on Pregnant Women

Stress may cause headaches, an upset stomach, insomnia, and a poor immune system. However, if you’re pregnant, you could experience other complications such as:

  • Preeclampsia (high blood pressure condition)
  • Premature birth
  • Baby’s low birth weight

Studies have shown that women who fear childbirth tend to experience longer labor. They may be in labor for 47 minutes longer than women who aren’t excessively worried about the delivery.

Around 1 out of 10 women may feel anxious throughout their pregnancy and even postpartum. You should try to avoid anything that you know could trigger your stress or nervousness. If not, you’re at risk for developing postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD). PPD is a valid concern of most women after childbirth.

Labor and Delivery Expectations

Your due date is fast approaching, and your mind is all over the place. You’re bombarded with so many what-ifs that your imagination runs wild and you start thinking about all the things that could go wrong with your delivery.

The jitters you feel can be a mix of excitement, anticipation, and fear or worry of the unexpected. Even a detailed birth plan may not help ease your fears. Why? You believe that things might not go the way you want them to. Or if you’ve never had a child before, you might come up with all sorts of possibilities that aren’t based on facts.

It’s best to discuss at least five or six important labor and birthing concerns with your doctor. Your doctor has surely assisted many women and therefore is aware of the different scenarios that are most likely to occur during delivery.

The health care provider of your choice is important in delivering your baby. You have to find a doctor who shares the same birthing principles and philosophies as you. It’ll be difficult for you to give birth if you and your doctor don’t see eye to eye.

Fears of Pregnant Women

Pregnant women have a lot of concerns that may bother them more than they should. Some of those are fears related to labor and delivery. Here are several common ones as well as tips on overcoming them:

Fear of Labor Pains

When mothers gather, it’s natural for them to share birthing stories. Most of them could sound like horror stories since they involve descriptions of pain and discomfort. This may leave a pregnant woman feeling apprehensive about the physical challenges of childbirth.

There’s no need to worry, however, because there are pain management options available to you. What’s more, they’re safe for you and your baby. An epidural is often offered to women who are about to give birth.

You may check ahead of time with the hospital where you’ll be delivering your baby whether an anesthesiologist is available 24/7 to give an epidural. Also, during labor, focus on your breathing. Labor breathing exercises will help ease the pain you’re experiencing.

Fear of Epidurals

Many pregnant women avoid getting an epidural because of the possible side effects. The numbness you’ll feel after getting it might make you more anxious and scared. Keep in mind, though, that the chances of acquiring complications because of an epidural are relatively rare.

Fear of C-Sections

Although delivering babies through C-section is commonplace nowadays, there are still some pregnant women who are afraid of this procedure. In particular, they’re concerned about the post-surgical effects. They worry about the pain from the incision as well as the lengthy recovery time.

The usual reasons that an unplanned C-section is required include the baby having a very large head, the baby being in an abnormal position, and your cervix not being fully dilated even after hours of labor.

If a C-section is the only possible way to get your baby out safely, then you should go for it. Learn to trust your health care provider and, most importantly, believe in your ability to get through the procedure.

Fear of Not Giving Birth at the Hospital

Thinking about delivering a baby in a public place can be quite scary and uncomfortable. No one wants to unexpectedly give birth while shopping, running errands, or riding a taxi or bus.

Still, that event happens every once in a while since there are women who give birth more quickly than others. Their babies may pop out as fast as you can count from one to 10. For experienced mothers, their labor is relatively shorter than first-time moms.

You have to know what true labor is to determine if it’s time for you to be driven to the hospital. Find out how to time your labor pain correctly. If the contractions are getting regular, phone your doctor right away.

If you’re in your third trimester, make sure that your hospital bag is already packed and ready. You also have to plan ahead on how to get to the hospital. If you have other kids, make sure to call a family member or a friend you trust to look after them.

Fear That Your Doctor Will Not Be Around During the Delivery

If you arrive safely at the hospital, don’t worry if your doctor isn’t there yet. If you’d called the hospital ahead to let them know that you’re in labor, your doctor most likely already knows about it and has coordinated with the hospital staff regarding your status.

While waiting for your doctor to arrive, the resident nurses and obstetricians will be there to assist you. Hospitals house a good number of medical professionals, so you’ll be in safe hands.

Fear of Pooping While Pushing

Perhaps you’re scared of embarrassing yourself if you accidentally poop on the delivery table. You don’t have to worry about that because pooping while pushing is perfectly normal because both actions require the use of the same muscles. It’s also a sign that your vaginal delivery is progressing well.

Counseling can help mommies with having a happy pregnancy and ease anxiety about giving birth.
Image from Flickr by Marco Verch

Tips on How to Manage Anxious Feelings

Just imagining yourself about to give birth may either give you the jitters, make you excited, or trigger your anxiety. All of which are expected as you’re about to enter a new phase in your life and bring another human being into the world.

One good reason to stop worrying is the fact that giving birth is a wonderful journey. In addition, you can prepare yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally so you won’t be anxious when it’s time for your baby to be delivered. Here are some tips that may help you manage anxiety about childbirth:

Ask for Support

Most mothers would be willing to share their own birth stories with you if you ask them about their experience. By doing this, you’ll be able to gain insights into what delivering a baby is actually like.

It’s best to surround yourself with mothers who can give you courage and help lift your spirits. Hearing about positive experiences can calm your nerves and enable you to focus on having a successful delivery and recovery.

Talk With Your Doctor

Your prenatal checkups are incredibly important for your and your baby’s health, so make sure you don’t miss any of your appointments. Inform your doctor about what you may be feeling physically or other concerns that are bothering you. This way, you’ll receive the support and encouragement you need.

During your third trimester, your doctor will discuss what happens during labor and delivery. They’ll discuss different possible birthing scenarios and various pain management options with you to ease your worries. They’ll also talk to you regarding what may happen if you need to undergo a C-section.

If possible, visit the hospital of your choice before your due date. This’ll give you the chance to interact with the delivery room staff and be comfortable with the place. They may tour you around the ward so you can get a better idea of what to expect on your delivery date.

Being aware and well-informed can help you mentally prepare for the big day and soothe your anxiety. Mental preparation is the key to having a comfortable labor experience.

Get Enough Quality Sleep Every Night

It’d be best for you to aim for anywhere from seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Lack of sleep may make you cranky and worsen your anxiety. You should visit your doctor if you’re having difficulty getting adequate rest.

Eat a Healthy and Balanced Diet

By consuming nutritious meals, you’ll be able to keep your gut bacteria in check. A regulated amount of gut bacteria is linked to less anxiety, according to research.

Stay Active

Exercising may be a challenge with your growing bump, but exercising is possible and even encouraged by doctors. When you exercise regularly, you may have a better mood and become less stressed.

Have a Support Group

Turning to supportive family members and friends could help with the reduction of your anxiety. You may join social media groups for expecting parents as well for the same purpose. Through these groups, you can share your feelings and listen to positive stories.

Be Informed

Every birthing story is unique. With that said, it’d be advantageous for you to be aware of the condition of your baby and the progress of your pregnancy. In doing so, you’ll know what specific information to look for when researching what you should expect during the delivery.

There should be child birthing courses available in your area that you can take advantage of. Obstetric clinics, hospitals, and birthing centers usually offer them. You’ll be taught about the anatomy and physiology of your pregnant body. You’ll also learn about the different stages of labor and how your delivery will progress. After the class, go ahead and ask questions that are on your mind.

By making the right preparations, you’ll be happier and more relaxed during your labor and delivery.

Stay as Calm as Possible

When you’re feeling anxious, you can try breathing exercises and meditation. Practicing mindfulness techniques may help calm your nerves.

Another option to consider is attending prenatal yoga classes. Here, you’ll learn poses meant to improve your strength and flexibility. They’ll also prepare your body for labor.

Yoga and meditation may decrease your stress hormones and aid you in breathing properly during labor. Research has shown that those who’ve done prenatal yoga feel reduced labor pain and are able to deliver their babies within a shorter period.

Hire a Doula

You may consider hiring a doula, a person who’s trained to give physical and emotional support to mothers before, during, and after delivery. Their goal is to help you achieve your desired birthing experience by easing your fears and making sure you’re as comfortable as possible from start to finish.

Be Kind to and Gentle With Yourself

Oftentimes, many mothers are so excited about their pregnancy that they forget about self-care. When you’re pregnant, see to it that you look after yourself. Stay active by taking daily morning walks in your neighborhood. Take it easy and take it one day at a time so you can steer clear of unnecessary stress.

Happy mommy and baby
Image from Pixabay by ImagesBG

You Can Do It!

Remember: all births are special. That’s why you shouldn’t compare your experience with that of other moms.

The best ways to relieve anxiety about childbirth are to be prepared and to expect the unexpected. The result? You’ll feel empowered and less stressed out once your due date arrives.

Of course, you don’t have to rely only on yourself. The mental health experts at Counseling Now are here to help and guide you along the way. Whatever your worries or fears are, our compassionate professional therapists are all ears and ready to provide you with the solutions you require.

The best part is that you don’t have to leave the house just to get in touch with our counselors. Counseling Now offers online services for your utmost convenience. Allow us to help you recover from anxiety before you meet your precious one. Book an appointment today!

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