A new study has linked postpartum depression to a fear of childbirth. The study concluded that a fear of childbirth was a major factor that could predispose a woman to suffering PPD. Fear of childbirth reportedly increased the chances of PPD three-fold in women without a history of depression and five-fold in women with a history. With that in mind, it seems like one way to help yourself avoid PPD is to overcome your fear of childbirth. Here are 6 common fears -- and how you can overcome them.
1. It's gonna hurt like hell. While pain is no doubt going to be part of the process, when I asked women what about childbirth made it not so scary, virtually all of them mentioned an epidural. One said, "I wish I had an epidural right now!" Don't be a hero. Get one if you want one. Another woman said about childbirth, "It's just like bad menstrual cramps. Much less than I had anticipated." Keep these things in mind; if anything, it will help calm you. And, you know, there's always Gisele, who had a pain-free pregnancy! She credits meditation, yoga breathing, and home birth in a bathtub. She can't be the only one with a magical vagina.
If all else fails, swear like a sailor. Plus, there's your own endorphins, which could lead to something called "birth euphoria" (or even the "orgasmic birth"). Also, most women say they "completely forget" the pain afterwards. Considering many women go back for seconds, thirds, and fourths, you have to believe them. Keep telling yourself, women have been doing this since there have been women on the planet. Remain calm and do breathing exercises. Your body is made to handle this.
2. I'll have to have a Cesarean. While it's true that Cesarean sections are much more common than they were 20 years ago, with one in three women having the operation, hospitals are now under pressure to reduce their C-section rates. Keep in close contact with your doctor and/or doula and make sure they know your preferences. But should you have to have one in an emergency, you can still breastfeed after a C-section; and many women are now having vaginal deliveries after C-sections too. Hey, there are women who welcome the C-section, even scheduling it. Who love it so much, they never want a natural birth.
3. My baby might be stillborn. One in 160 pregnancies end in a stillborn birth in the U.S. While that might sound like a lot, it is still less than one percent, pretty rare. Still, if you are worried, there are things you can do to help prevent this rare tragedy. Such as see your doctor regularly and do kick counts starting at about 28 weeks.
4. I'm gonna poop! One way to prevent this is to get up and go to the bathroom during early birth pains. But birth attendants have seen it all and won't be bothered a bit by it. As for friends and family, if that is something you'd be super embarrassed about, maybe have them come in later during the birth. But, really, you should not be concerned about others at this point or pooping. WHO CARES?! You're pushing out a baby!
5. Sex life will end. While many women do have some pain after child birth or an episiotomy or tearing, seeking help from an OBGYN with issues of pain can speed recovery up. But also, at least one survey says that men weren't counting down the days until women wanted sex again, they were more concerned about having an emotional connection and would be happy with cuddling, holding hands, and other forms of physical intimacy. Talk freely to your husband/significant other about how you're feeling. Go to therapy if necessary. Open communication is key here.
6. Won't make it to hospital in time. This is extremely rare -- almost never -- with first-time births. Still rare even with experienced moms and usually only happens because of a major delay in getting to the hospital. A friend of mine, however, did deliver in a cab. She still has the news video clip and loves it. Her kid loves the story too. It's amazing how those little buggers can survive coming out pretty much anywhere. But if you plan effectively and don't dilly-dally, you should have no problems.
Are you scared of childbirth?
Image via gregoryrallen/Flickr