When I was pregnant with my son I was consistently asked, “Are you scared?” It’s a valid question (despite the fact that it’s usually left out of baby shower conversations and chatter, which all us new moms appreciate BTW) since it’s totally OK to be scared of labor and delivery. Depending on who was doing the asking and when they were doing it, I either responded with an enthusiastic, "Yes, obviously and why are you asking me such a stupid question?” or I tried to deflect; preferring not to get into specifics over spaghetti whilst on my lunch break.
However, now that some time has passed since I was constantly asked those questions, I think about them a little differently. I’d would even venture to guess that most moms are scared (though, I have zero scientific evidence to back this up) because really, why wouldn’t they be? Labor and delivery aren’t exactly presented in the most positive light in film and media, giving us a pretty skewed version of what the entire childbirth experience entails. Of course, film and media aren’t the only ways we get impressions of the birth experience before we go through it, but it’s a prime example of how most conversations around birth and labor don’t exactly involve sparkles and unicorns and nothing but happy, fuzzy feelings. I suppose they could, if you had a really intense birth plan, but for the rest of us, they do not.
So, if you currently are, or once were, scared of labor and delivery, know that you have the support of at least one internet stranger who’s also been there. Here’s why, in my experience, it’s totally OK to be scared of labor and delivery:
People Are Always Quick To Share Horror Stories
It’s been nearly three years, and I still haven’t forgotten the work acquaintance who opted to tell me how her sister almost died during childbirth when I was merely weeks away from my due date. While it’s important to know the realities of what we’re potentially getting into, any anecdotal stories shared in casual conversation that involve the phrase “almost died” are best saved until after the birth (or never, honestly).
Pain Is Pretty Much A Given
Granted, there are lots of ways to cope with it and manage pain associated with childbirth, but it’s hard not to be a little uneasy when we know something painful is on the horizon.
The Hollywood Portrayal Is Overly Dramatic
I know, I know; we can rarely trust Hollywood with this kind of thing. My first foray into childbirth was 1989’s Look Who’s Talking starring Kirstie Alley and John Travolta, where they give Alley’s character a demon voice during labor (among other, um, slightly unrealistic things). So, yeah, I think it’s fair to assume that we’re allowed to be a little intimidated by the whole process.
There Are So Many Choices To Make, It’s Overwhelming And Intimidating To Assume We’ve Chosen The Best Ones
What if I chose the wrong location to give birth? What if I don’t pack the right things in my bag? What if my birth plan is totally unrealistic? What if I can’t possibly predict the future so it’s a waste of time to doubt choices I made to the best of my abilities?
We Don’t Always Have Exposure To Other Labors And Deliveries
Confession: I’ve never seen a labor in person. In fact, even though I’m a mom now, I had my eyes squeezed shut during my own delivery so I still haven’t seen one (unless we decide to count the videos shown in my birthing class, and I can’t say that I do since they were edited to be like eight minutes long and that’s just not fair).
I know that sometimes friends and family members can invite us into the delivery room with them, and that other cultures share the birthing experience more than our own, but I also know that I’m not alone in that I haven’t been exposed to it very many times.
Our Baby’s Health And Wellbeing Are Front And Center
At this point, we haven’t even met the baby and we’ve already started worrying. It’s a like Parenting 101.
Our Health And Well-Being Are Front And Center
If there was a guarantee that everything was going to be OK, it’d probably be far less scary. However, the reality is that there are some risks involved for the mom and her health; which is a hard thing to forget when you happen to be the mom.
We Know There Are Things That Can Go Wrong That We’re Probably Not Even Thinking About Or Aware Of
This is not an invitation to be told all of them, (looking at you, Sheila). I trust that my doctor’s telling me what I need to be aware of, so please excuse me from this conversation.
We May Not Want To Do The Things Everyone Says We Could Do (Like Poop On The Table Or Scream At Your Partner)
I mean, I’d be scared of pretty much any experience that could involve pooping freely in public, but that’s just me. Birth is no exception.
There Are Only So Many Ways To Prepare Our Bodies
By, “So many ways to prepare," I mean, “Definitely not enough ways to properly prepare.” I told my husband it felt like, what I assume, triathletes or marathon runners would feel if they knew they had a race approaching, but weren’t in training for.
I mean, yes, we can go to classes and do prenatal yoga and kegels and whatnot, but we won’t really experience what our body goes through until we go through it. As someone who’s not a huge fan of surprising, this was slightly (read: very) unsettling to me.
Because We Know We’re Probably Going To Go A Long Time Without Eating
Guys, anytime I know my access to food is going to be limited, I feel a deep fear down in my soul.