Thursday, November 26, 2009

Week 25: Why Does Labor Seem so Scary?

Last week, I talked about how I got a little freaked out by the birthing class video. This week, it seems like everything I did confirmed any fears I had about pain . . .

Up until now, I've pretty firmly believed that I could handle it, that it would be something I could deal with without too much issue. But now, after hearing stories from other people and thinking through how I really manage pain, I am really starting to get a bit concerned. I think it's a healthy concern. It's better for me to address these fears now than in the throes of labor.

First, I was given a lot of homework in the Bradley class. Mostly this consists of an outrageous number of Kegels and many other exercises to aid in labor. I'm starting to get the idea that this is going to be like an athletic event. And I feel like I am training for it. I suppose if I approach it that way, that's the best thing I could do. It's a test of endurance really.

Second, I was talking to the midwife today and she talked to me about not being so averse to the epidural so that if I have to have one for some reason I won't feel very upset or ashamed. And, I will acknowledge that while I don't want an epidural and I am vehemently opposed to them, I understand that there's a slight chance I may want one. She gave the example of a 3 day labor where you've been up for 3 days and all you want to do is sleep, so the epidural can help with that. Well, that kind of worried me. Three days? Would I really not be able to sleep? Surely I could find a way to rest during those 3 days even if I couldn't sleep that would still allow me to be prepared for the hard work of labor in the end? Surely!

Third, while I was in the office I got an H1N1 shot. Needles freak me out a bit, so I tried a relaxing breathing exercise from the Bradley class when she was sticking me for about 10 seconds and I still felt a lot of pain and it was difficult to distract myself from it. And it was just a tiny needle! I started to wonder, can I really handle the pain of labor?

I think maybe up until now I really sort of thought I would have mental strength and preparation available to me to just call upon during labor. That when I got to that point, I would be ready, but now I'm starting to think that if I want to be prepared, I better really approach this like something I'm hard-core training for. I'm wondering if I should have my husband pinch me for 30 seconds or something so I can try breathing deeply through it and not being tense. I'm going to start religiously doing my exercises and practicing mind over matter.

But thinking about it this way makes me think that maybe I won't be able to relax when I get there. I previously believed I'd bring my knitting and some interesting TV shows to distract me from the pain. I figured I'd basically be just hanging out, walking the hallways, sitting on a birthing ball, knitting, and watching my shows until things got intense, when TV might still help distract me... But, I don't think that's realistic either. Somewhere in the middle there must be a balance. I'd welcome any advice anyone has on how to prepare for this. It really seems like the fear of the unknown is the problem here--you just never know how it's going to go. You might get a great, easy birth, or you might get a long (or short) intense and painful one... Since I don't know, I don't know how to prepare, and that might be concerning me most of all.

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