Having a C-section
Solution: Talk with your doctor about your desire to avoid a C-section unless it's medically necessary. Factors known to reduce C-section risk include having a doula and/or a midwife and choosing a doctor and hospital with a low C-section rate. Plan for a vaginal delivery, but work on accepting that a C-section may be the safer delivery method if complications occur.
Solution: "If you tend to be a very controlling person, childbirth is one of those ultimate out-of-control situations," Lusskin says. Remind yourself that doctors and nurses have seen and heard just about everything, and nothing you say or do—including screaming or emptying your bowels during labor—will surprise or disgust them.
Solution: Learn about perineal massage, which can gently stretch the tissue between the vagina and rectum and reduce your risk of tearing. (To view the American College of Nurse Midwives' perineal massage guide, go to midwife.org.) Tearing can sometimes also be avoided with controlled pushing and frequent position changes at the end of the second stage of labor.
Fetal Distress/Birth Defects
Solution: Remind yourself that although some babies have problems during delivery, the majority does not. Also remember that birth defects are rare—more than 97 percent of babies are born healthy (for perspective, see "Flawless," pg. 74). If a baby is in distress, an experienced doctor can take appropriate measures to deliver her quickly and safely.
5 Ways To Fight The Fear
1. Avoid horror stories. Don't watch overdramatized childbirth shows on TV, and ask people not to share their negative experiences.
2. Find the facts. Learn about normal labor and delivery, as well as the actual vs. imaginary risks.
3. Address emotional issues. If you have a history of depression, anxiety or abuse, especially sexual abuse, seek professional help early.
4. Learn to relax. Meditation, deep breathing, yoga and guided imagery can help, as can long baths and peaceful walks.
5. Ask for support. Tell others how you feel, and spend time with supportive people who make you feel strong and confident.