OB ABCs

Week 39

week_39You’ve spent months preparing yourself for the arrival of your baby. Now it’s time to set your birth plan into motion.

The final stage of pregnancy can be an anxious time filled with both excitement and fear of the unknown. Although you cannot control everything that happens to you during your baby’s birth, your birth plan will help you to feel empowered in the decisions being made about your baby and your body.

Because it’s likely that your birth plan was prepared months before the big day, it’s important to take the time to review it as your due date approaches. Doing so can help calm your fears and reiterate your wishes to your partner. When reviewing your birth plan, remember that it’s not so much an exact plan as much as it is a list of preferences.

Calming Anxiety, Easing Fears

Even with your birth plan in place, you still may feel nervous or afraid. These fears, such as fear of pain or fear of difficult labor, are completely normal.

Other common pregnancy fears include:

  • Fear of episiotomy. Episiotomies, which were once a standard practice, are now only performed less than 30 percent of the time.
  • Fear of needles. If you want an epidural but are afraid of needles, take comfort in knowing that the risk of complications associated with epidurals is very small. In addition, there is little-to-no risk of spinal cord injury and any painful sensations will subside immediately following the initial needle prick.
  • Fear of unnecessary cesarean birth. The odds of having a vaginal birth are in your favor. In certain cases, such as placenta previa or if the baby is in distress, a cesarean may become medically necessary. By educating yourself on what to expect, you’ll be less likely to panic and prematurely agree to a cesarean birth.
  • Long labor. Worried your labor will last for three days? Relax. The average first-time labor is about 18 hours.
  • Loss of control. Many women fear that the pain of childbirth will be so intense they will lose control of their emotions. Even if you do act a little out of character, everyone present is there to support you.

TIPS

  • The term “birth plan” can be misleading. A birth plan is not an exact plan for how you and your partner want your baby to be born, but rather a tool to help improve communication with your doctor and make your preferences known prior to birth.
  • Visualization techniques and relaxation exercises can be great ways to help reduce labor anxiety. Childbirth preparation classes will introduce techniques that you will be able to use during labor.