Women undergo a complex process when they give birth to a child, which can dramatically change their lives. When it comes to giving birth, it’s only natural to feel anxious about it. First-time mothers are not the only ones who experience these concerns. Having concerns about upcoming labor and delivery, regardless of whether it is your first or your third child, is common. Some women experience intense anxiety before labor induction. Let us examine nine of the most common labor fears.
Those who have never given birth don’t know what to expect, whereas women with children understand it is hard to predict exactly what will happen during labor. So basically, women, whether they are new mothers or experienced mothers, express fear mainly due to a lack of knowledge about what will happen during labor and delivery. Due to this uncertainty, it’s quite natural to be scared of giving birth for the first time. In case you’re scared of childbirth, you’re not the only one! At some point during pregnancy, the majority of expecting women will experience some form of fear about the birth process.
What Is The Fear Of Labor Called?
Women are fearful of labor and delivery more than ever before these days. However, the intensity of the fear varies from woman to woman. Only a very small percentage of women experience overwhelming anxiety about giving birth. This is called tokophobia1. ‘Toko’ means childbirth in Greek. Here, the fear is so intense that women may avoid having babies altogether.
This intense fear of labor is often referred to as tokophobia. Tokophobia is a rare but very real condition for some women. This is something that should be understood and never brushed aside as normal fears associated with labor. Tokophobia is not the same as the common fear of childbirth experienced by many women before giving birth. Tokophobia, in contrast to frequent labor fears, appears to have profound adverse effects on both mother and child.
What it’s like?
- Tokophobia can lead to panic attacks, sweating, and crying when a woman thinks about giving birth.
- Some women with tokophobia even display physical as well as psychological reactions when they are faced with a pregnant woman, including shivering, a rapid breathing pattern, palpitation, as well as a rush of adrenaline
- Tokophobia may indeed cause a woman to request an elective C-section during pregnancy
- Tokophobia women sometimes do not overcome their fear of childbirth and end up adopting or remaining childless despite desperately wanting to have babies
- Women may even ask to terminate their pregnancy rather than go through childbirth in extreme cases
Related Reading: 9 Early Warning Signs Of Postpartum Depression To Watch Out For
Why Do Some Women Fear Giving Birth?
“Is it normal to feel scared about giving birth?” It is. Approximately 80% of pregnant women express worries and fears about their pregnancy or forthcoming delivery2. Having a fear of childbirth is very common because one does not exactly know what to expect when it comes to delivery.
Below we will list a few possible reasons why women are scared to give birth:
- Perceptions about labor and delivery: There are many stories about traumatic births, and movies and TV shows show the woman in labor writhing in pain and finally pushing out her baby with screams, sweat, and tears. It is understandable, then, why many people already think that childbirth is a traumatic event. If you do not clear up these misconceptions before preparing for delivery, you are more likely to develop labor fears
- An earlier pregnancy loss or a traumatic birth: When something has gone wrong in the past, such as a miscarriage, stillbirth, or an emergency C-section, those experiences can understandably lead to fear with future pregnancies. After a traumatic obstetric event in a previous pregnancy, some women develop a dreadful fear of pregnancy, labor, and birth in subsequent pregnancies. In the majority of cases, this occurs after a traumatic delivery, but it can also occur following an uncomplicated delivery, a miscarriage, a stillbirth, or an abortion. Birth is a time when many people are afraid of not being in control of their bodies and an inability to protect and keep their babies safe from unpredictable events
- Pregnancy complications: Some pregnancy complications require constant monitoring. There are several complications related to pregnancy & delivery that may require extra monitoring, including bleeding, gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, threatened miscarriage, placental previa, and preeclampsia. The fear of something going wrong during birth can make pregnancy less enjoyable when a complication is diagnosed. When this happens, labor anxiety begins to ramp up. Despite the fact that some of these conditions can cause complications during delivery, they don’t always have to
- Having a pre-existing anxiety disorder: In addition to previous pregnancy complications and traumatic experiences, pregnant women with pre-existing anxiety disorder are at higher risk of labor fears
- A history of sexual abuse: In the case of a woman who has a history of sexual abuse, giving birth may be an intimidating prospect. People who have been sexually abused have negative experiences with people touching them in their private parts. Precisely places where touch may be necessary when giving birth. Internal exams and the need for a physician and nurses to touch the genital area can trigger intense labor fear
Related Reading: False Labor Pains- 8 Ways To Know This Is Not Real Pain
9 Most Common Labor Fears
You should expect to feel some anxiety when giving birth. The majority of women wonder whether they will need an epidural or a C-section and whether the baby will be healthy. Other factors that trigger labor fears are the fear of painful labor and delivery complications. Many mothers fear that they will die during labor and delivery. For first-time mothers, the labor fear might be even greater.
Here are 9 of the most common fears that are associated with labor:
1. Fear of labor pain
No matter if it is the mother’s first or second child, this is one of the biggest labor fears she experiences. The experience of giving birth is not the same for each woman, and a woman who gives birth easily may experience intense pain during the subsequent deliveries. Despite a wide range of options for labor pain management, such as epidurals, and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies to help you along, many women are concerned about the effects of medications on their babies. According to doctors, most pain medicines have only a mild impact on the baby, often only causing them to be sleepy.
2. Fear of the epidural needle
Despite the fact that epidurals are able to diminish the pain of contractions during childbirth, many women find them to be an anxiety-inducing procedure. Soon-to-be mothers are likely to be scared of the procedure as well as its side effects, such as numbness. Fear of needles stabbed into the spine, the possibility of paralysis, and chronic pain could cause panic attacks among pregnant women.
Related Reading: 8 Tips To Cope With Anxiety During Pregnancy Third Trimester
3. Fear of not making it to the hospital on time
Some pregnant women have heard stories of or have seen serials portraying a pregnant woman giving birth on a bus, in an auto, car, on a plane, or on a train if she can’t make it to the hospital on time. Therefore, it is understandable that many pregnant women have a fear of not making it to the hospital on time.
Some facts about the issue are presented below.
- The odds are pretty good that you’ll arrive at the hospital without significant delay unless you live far away
- First-time moms usually have 20-hour labor. It is rare for first babies to be BBA (born before arrival) since they tend to take their time and mothers usually arrive at the hospital on time
- For second-timers, labor lasts on average eight hours. Therefore, the second or subsequent baby is more likely to be BBA since labor is usually faster.
- BBA rarely causes complications, as long as everyone remains focused and patient
We suggest you to pack your hospital bag for delivery in advance, thus causing no delay and no rush.
4. Fear of perineal tearing or vaginal tearing
A vaginal tear occurs when the baby’s head is too large to fit through the vaginal opening or if the baby’s head is of normal size but the vagina is difficult to stretch. It is not uncommon for them to occur during vaginal delivery. One of the most common fears among pregnant women is vaginal tearing3.
5. Fear of pooping while pushing
Women often worry about the possibility of pooping during labor and delivery. The idea of pooping on the floor when people are attending to you sounds awful. The good news is that you shouldn’t have any reason to worry about it. It is very common for women to poop during the second stage of labor, when the cervix is completely dilated. The majority of doctors and nurses are used to seeing this during the second stage. When the baby’s head is ready to exit, the pregnant woman has to use several muscles, including those in her rectum, to get the baby out. Because stools are likely to remain in the rectum all the time, it is natural for some of them to come out while pushing during labor.
6. Fear of an episiotomy
A surgical cut made by the caregiver in the perineal tissue during vaginal birth, usually during the crowning phase, is an episiotomy. The fear of having to be cut or torn while in labor is one of the greatest fears of many women. The likelihood of undergoing an episiotomy increases with larger babies, abnormal positions of the baby’s head, assisted delivery, etc. In addition, if you have an episiotomy during one delivery, you are more likely to have it during a later one4. Therefore, a second-time mother will also suffer from the same fear of an episiotomy as a new mother.
7. Fear of needing an emergency C-section
Surgery is a frightening experience for most people. This is true regardless of how simple the procedure is. The same applies to pregnant women. Pregnancies can still end in emergency C sections, even when things are going well. The fear of needing an emergency C section during labor is one of the most common fears of pregnant women.
Related Reading: 11 Home Remedies For C-Section Recovery
8. The fear of losing sexual enjoyment
Minor tears and grazes are common during birth. Many women fear childbirth because they think it will affect their sexual pleasure. Perineal trauma that required stitches is the leading cause of pain during sex after birth. One of the main reasons that you do not feel sexually attracted to your husband after delivery. Women with second-degree tears or episiotomies during birth were more likely to have poorer sexual satisfaction, fewer orgasms, and more pain during sex than those without.
9. Cord around baby’s neck
A nuchal cord, also known as the cord that wraps around the baby’s neck, is a concern for many pregnant women. Since the umbilical cord is covered in jelly, it is quite slippery. The cord is often wrapped around a baby’s body at some stage of pregnancy. It’s quite common for babies to be born with their cords around their necks. The good news is that health providers are well trained and experienced in dealing with these situations
How To Get Over The Fear Of Having A Baby?
The labor fears themselves can potentially increase the duration and intensity of labor pain, so it is important to overcome this fear. The following tips may help in overcoming the fear of childbirth:
- Talk to your doctor about your concerns and ask questions if you have any
- Make sure you are aware of your pain management options if the pain is your biggest fear
- By learning about birth and preparing for labor mentally and physically, you can reduce your fear of it. Attending childbirth classes will help you
- Don’t watch movies with horrible birth scenes or never give ear to negative birth stories
- Spend time reading and watching positive birth stories
There is nothing unusual about pregnancy and childbirth fears. Your body is designed to give birth. Understanding this will help you in overcoming the fear of childbirth. By letting your body do what it’s designed to do, you will have a wonderful and empowering experience. The tension created by fear makes the pain worse. Speak to your doctor or care provider if you are experiencing overwhelming fears.