The thought of delivering a baby can be stressful, especially if you’re a first-time mom and don’t know what to expect. Nearly all women feel anxiety about labor, and as many as 10% of women have more intense fear. Counterproductively, fearful moms may actually find giving birth to be more painful than calm mothers do. Discomfort and labor pains are a part of the birthing process, but it doesn’t have to be daunting. At Baby+Company, our midwives are here to address and ease your birth anxiety. If thinking about labor pains and pain during delivery gives you panic attacks, follow our advice for peace of mind.

Avoid Scary Stories

Unfortunately, television, movies, and well-meaning friends’ birthing stories can exacerbate fears in expectant moms. Steer clear of shows and personal accounts that focus on the pain of childbirth, especially if traumatic accounts fuel your anxiety. Swap out fear-inducing documentaries, movies, and articles with calming books and informative videos to prepare. Instead of considering every ‘what-if,’ let go of your expectations and focus on bringing your baby into the world.

Know Before You Go

Educate yourself on the anatomy and physiology of your body and the birth process. Confront your fears head on and walk through the entire delivery process with information that isn’t fear- or myth-based. A childbirth class will prepare you for each stage of your labor, so take one! A detailed birthing plan can help to ease your anxiety, but understand that your plan will likely change. Know what to expect from your body, and talk over your fears and concerns with your midwife.

Make a Pain Plan

A pain plan might seem like the last thing you want to think about when you’re fearful, especially if it’s your first time delivering and you’re not sure what to expect. Give yourself an array of options for relieving labor pains. Practice breathing techniques before you actually need to use them. Learn about meditation, visualization, and positive affirmation, and practice these calming exercises as far out from your due date as possible. Use these techniques whenever you feel anxious. Ask your friends how they coped with labor pains. Although Baby+Company doesn’t use epidurals, there are still plenty of ways to manage your labor pains, including nitrous oxide. Explore your options beforehand so you can try different techniques and see what works when you’re in labor.

Be Honest With Yourself and Your Midwife

Anxiety is natural. Write down your concerns and bring them to your next appointment, so your midwife can work with you to overcome them. Find someone – whether it’s your midwife, doula, or a friend – who will build your confidence and support you through your fears. Your midwife will be able to help distinguish rational fears from irrational concerns, and can walk you through potential responses to your labor pains.

Have a Support Team

Whether it’s your doula, partner, or a friend, support during labor can help control pain. Studies have shown that women with continuous labor support show a decrease in the need for painkillers and have more successful, non-traumatic births. Discuss the relaxation and labor strategies you plan to implement during delivery, and offer suggestions for how your support team can help you. Can someone be there to hold your hand or say reaffirming words? Would having your favorite music, pillow, or comfort items help you stay calm? Your support team will help to relieve your fears so you can focus on what you need to do – deliver that beautiful baby!