8 childbirth fears all mums-to-be face

Anxious as to what to expect during delivery now that you’re expecting? Our expert advice should soothe your fears!

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Even the most confident of women will likely feel some stress or be jittery about the prospect of giving birth.

For some mums-to-be, their fear arises from not knowing what to expect during labour and delivery. For others, they’re scared of being ill-prepared to care for a newborn and if they’ll be able to pay off their hospital bills.

SmartParents expert and Gleneagles Hospital ob-gyn, Dr Christopher Chong, and Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist from Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness, both tell you how to stop your feelings of panic:

Before giving birth

1) Fear of the unknown

WHY Whether you are giving birth for the first time or an old hand at delivering babies, it’s bound to be a scary experience because each labour and delivery process can differ. Nor do you know what may go wrong.
WHAT YOU CAN DO During your prenatal visits, put your questions to your obstetrician-gynaecologist to clear up any doubts. Otherwise, Dr Lim advises that you make use of resources like attending prenatal classes and reading online parenting resources to learn more. And remind yourself not to worry unnecessarily as it can compromise your health, which will harm your foetus, too.

Spousal support is crucial during this time. Dr Lim notes that husbands can help by encouraging their spouse to speak freely about their fears, listening to them and being empathic. “Knowing that their partners will always be by their side during birthing will allay their fears greatly.” So, go for prenatal check-ups and classes together. This should help you get familiar with the birthing process.

“Knowing that their partners will always be by their side during birthing will allay their fears greatly.”

2) Fear of labour pain

WHY Those powerful contractions in your uterus is how your body tells you that your bundle is about to arrive. Also, the pressure exerted on your cervix by the baby and the stretching of your lady bits to accommodate his form means that you’ll definitely feel pain.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Talk to your ob-gyn about your pain-relief options. Dr Chong points out the three most common pain relief options are:
* Entonox, commonly referred to as laughing gas.
* Pethidine, a form of intra-muscular injection.
* Epidural anaesthesia, where a spinal catheter is inserted for pain relief.

Dr Chong notes some patients also use — to varying degrees of success — heat packs, hypnotherapy, hydrotherapy and massages. Again, it’s best to check with your doctor before trying these alternative forms of pain relief.

3) Fear of going into labour unexpectedly

WHY During your last couple of gynae visits, you’ll be told when to expect regarding your baby’s arrival. But your EDD is just that, an estimate as it’s anybody’s guess when you might go into labour.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Know what the early signs of labour are. This includes observing sticky blood coming out from down there — a bloody show — and feeling contractions. Dr Chong suggests that you see your gynae immediately if you experience a drop in foetal movements, if there’s water leaking from your water bag, or abdominal pain that increases in frequency and intensity. “You need to be vigilant but don’t panic. Fortunately, Singapore is a small country and it takes a short time to reach medical help.” Organising your hospital bag ahead of time will put your mind at ease. Click here to see what you should and shouldn’t include.

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4) Fear of sustaining birth injuries

WHY A fully-formed human being is coming out from “down there”, so it should be no surprise that you may have to endure minor injuries as baby makes his way out. Dr Chong says that your chances of suffering a vaginal tear depends on several factors, like:
* How short your perineum ― the area between the vagina and the anus ― is?
* How big is your baby?
* The foetus’s head position — there’s a higher risk of tears if the baby is delivered with their head facing upwards.
* Your ob-gyn’s skills.
WHAT YOU CAN DO It’s common practice for doctors make a snip at your perineum — called an episiotomy — to ease delivering the foetus, so that you avoid getting tears. Dr Chong states, “Generally, in a normal pregnancy, the chances of suffering tears are low. Another way to reduce your risk of tears is to avoid overeating during pregnancy as that can lead to having an excessively large baby.

5) Fear of needing a forceps or vacuum delivery

WHY In some cases, you may not be able to undergo proper vaginal birth because the risks of a complicated delivery far outweighs its benefits. Common assistive birth options include having an emergency C-section, forceps or vacuum delivery.
WHAT YOU CAN DO It is relatively rare for patients to rely on forceps during delivery, Dr Chong notes that usually less than 10 per cent of his patients will need it. C-sections, on the other hand, have become more common, accounting for up to 40 per cent of births. Dr Lim advises you to clarify any misgivings or questions you have with your ob-gyn to allay your fears. Also, if you need your doctor to use such techniques to deliver your baby for his sake, you shouldn’t feel guilty, Dr Lim notes.

You don’t have to tackle this parenting gig on your own, it really does take a village to raise a child.

After giving birth…

6) Fear of not being able to afford the hospital bill

WHY Public or private hospital, giving birth is not a cheap procedure. Prices can range between $6,000 for a normal vaginal birth in a public hospital, to as much as $12,000 in a private hospital. C-sections and other forms of assistive birth techniques will cost more.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Sit down with your spouse to crunch the numbers for a clear view of your financial position as a couple. It is also important to spend within your means, even if it entails revising your expectations. Dr Lim points out, “Proper planning and choosing the right childbirth package depending on one’s financial ability instead of opting for more expensive ones can help allay some of these worries.” You may also want to speak to the hospital to check if it has any financial schemes you can tap.

7) Fear of not being able to care for your newborn

WHY Your life is going to change pretty quickly following your munchkin’s birth. Before you can wrap your head around your birthing experience, your little one will be demanding all your time and attention.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Remember, you don’t have to tackle this parenting gig on your own, it really does take a village to raise a child. It is also equally important to accept support including loved ones, your mummy pals, even enlisting the help of confinement nannies. Most of all, your spouse should also chip in and do his part. Of course, reading widely and attending prenatal classes to pick up babycare tips will help.

8) Fear that your spouse won’t love you after you give birth

WHY Pregnancy can change the way you look physically and emotionally. From giving you a curvier figure, hair loss and a larger shoe size, these physical changes can chip away at your self-esteem and confidence.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Share your fears with your spouse. Dr Lim says, “Most of the time the fears are unfounded as the family bonds together with the arrival of a newborn.” As a couple, each party must commit to continue spending time to build your relationship. The good news is working on your relationship as a couple will also benefit your roles as parents.

Photos: iStock

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