Reduce The Fear And Reclaim Your Birth

A recent study published in the British Journal of Gynecology shows moms who were afraid of labor had labors that lasted an average of 47 minutes longer than moms who weren't scared. Here's what you need to know to lessen the fear of labor and prepare for a smoother — and hopefully shorter — delivery.

Pregnant woman with doctor

These are general tips for reducing the fear of labor. If you're experiencing fear and anxiety that goes beyond the usual uncertainty about what labor may be like, don't hesistate to call your healthcare provider.

Choose the best birth place and care provider for you

If you have the option to choose from different birth places — hospital, home or birth center — do your homework to make the choice that's comfortable for you. Having a birth place that's conducive to the kind of labor you're hoping for, along with a doctor or midwife who is on the same page you are, goes a long way toward relieving fear.

Where should I give birth?>>

Keep lines of communication open — often

Don't wait until labor day before expressing your wishes. Start with choosing a doctor or midwife who is supportive, shares your philosophy and is open to discussing your options for the big day. If you write a birth plan, keep it short, simple and positive. It shouldn't be a missive of what you don't want, and even the happiest written list of birth wishes shouldn't replace verbal communication — before, during and after labor.

Learn the truth about birth plans>>

Practice relaxation techniques

Whether it's doing prenatal yoga, deep breathing, reading your favorite celebrity magazine or taking a nice, long walk, the more you can relax during pregnancy, the easier it will be to call on those relaxation responses during labor.

Tonight before going to sleep, get comfortable in bed, close your eyes and take a few slow, deep cleansing breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Try to rid your brain of tension and stress, at least for a few moments. Slow breathing alone may be enough to fully relax, but if not, try a progressive relaxation exercise. While doing the deep breathing, "check in" with your body. If there are areas that are tense or painful, relax those areas as best you can. Ask your partner for massage if you're really tense.

Take labor one contraction at a time

Thinking about labor — especially the first time around — can be overwhelming. Rather than wondering, How long will labor last? How much stronger will contractions get?, take things one contraction at a time. Take a cleansing breath at the beginning and end of each contraction to help center yourself.

This approach is helpful after you've given birth too. Life with a newborn is exhilarating and challenging at the same time — knowing how to relax and take a "time out" is a great skill to have.

Have confidence in yourself

You can do this!

Your body was made to give birth! Have confidence in yourself and get the physical, emotional and informational support you need.

Labor is an amazing process that shouldn't be scary. Here's to a safe, smooth delivery.

More about labor

Is it really labor?
Pick the perfect doula
Secrets of the labor and delivery room


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