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Help me not to freak out

(37 Posts)
WriterofDreams Fri 03-Dec-10 12:26:44

All I'm looking for really is reassurance so any kind words are welcome and positive stories are especially welcome!

I'm due to have my first baby in three weeks. I'm obviously really looking forward to meeting him but as time wears on I find I'm getting more and more anxious about the birth. In the last three months three friends have had their first babies - the first was an elcs for a breech baby, the second was a forceps delivery and the third was a very slow induction leading to a long labour and "a very difficult birth" (don't know the details yet as it was only last night). I know it sounds irrational but I was hoping that at least one of them would be a normal, relatively uncomplicated birth so I could hope for the same for myself. News of this latest birth has me in tears sad

On top of that I have been reading up on various procedures in the belief that the better informed I am the better prepared I'll be. While I still believe that's true, I think all this knowledge has freaked me out somewhat as I'm far to aware of all the horrible things that can happen. I'm meeting the midwife today to discuss my birth plan and I'm worried that I'll just get hysterical blush and she's not the understanding type. I don't dare talk to my mum about this because she had two absolutely horrendous births (and I mean off the scale horrific) plus one ok birth so she can't really pretend to me that it's all going to be ok (which TBH is what I need - think I've had an overdose of honesty!)

So lovely MNetters could you be substitute mums and soothe me a bit? Also can I ask if there's anything else I need to include in my birth plan today besides the following? I'm going to tell my MW that:
I want to go the MLU and use the pool if possible
I do NOT under any circumstances want a forceps delivery and I am going to put in writing that a C section is the only option for me in difficult circumstances
I am open to using gas and air and pethidine
I am not bothered one way or the other about a managed/natural third stage and will go with the flow
I do not want my waters broken without being expressly asked first and an explanation given as to why it might be necessary

I can totally tell I'm becoming neurotic, which I know is not good

ragged Fri 03-Dec-10 12:45:42

Yes, you sound overinformed. smile.
Deep breath.
You are not in 100% control of what happens. So you do have to go with the flow.
But most people are not as unlucky as your mom, and when the moment comes you might not be as unhappy as you think you would be with your friends' experiences.
Plus, a lot of people have brilliant first time experiences.

What about vitamin K for the baby (method or absence)? What about skin to skin, feeding plans, rooming in, who cuts the umbilical cord? They should ask permission for and explain any procedure, by the way, not just breaking waters.

I suspect MWs will like your birthplan because it's simple!!

lowrib Fri 03-Dec-10 12:51:16

Take a deep breath!

I'm not going to lie to you, birth is not a walk in the park (but you know that already). But you will manage, it will be OK, you will have a baby at the end of it smile

Like someone else on mumsnet said the other day, don't forget you come from a very long line of successful mothers! And the vast majority of them gave birth without all the medical support we have these days.

I know it's easier said than done, but at this point being anxious about it isn't a good idea.

The best thing you can do IMO is to try to do practical things to take back a bit of control, and to make sure that you have the best possible chance of a good birth. And it is important - your state of mind can have influence your chances of giving birth "naturally"

What can you do practically?

- stop focussing on the negatives!

- have a plan for what to do when you get anxious? Have you been practicing any relaxation techniques?

- are you all ready for the hospital?

- you will feel pain, but you will get through it. For me, the epidural didn't work, and so I definitely felt it! If I ever do it again I'd try to make a plan for dealing with it. Gas and Air were my friend - but other things might have helped with taking my mind off the pain. If I ever do it again, I would have like to have had my MP3 player there with my favourite tunes blasting away in my ears. I think it would have helped take my mind of the pain a little - but that's just what works for me. Have you ever had period pains? What did you do to deal with them? (And an epidural will almost certainly work for you anyway - I'm a medical mystery grin)

I had a ventouse at the very end.At that point DS was almost out, and we just needed a bit of help. I wonder if Forceps are used in this way too? Just wondering ruling them out completely might be bit rash? Or could you maybe request ventouse instead? (I don't know how it works - I'm not an expert, I've just done it once grin

(As an aside it really annoys me when I see "assisted delivery" on my notes! I was only "assisted" for the very last push - out of a whole day of labouring! angry It didn't feel very assisted to me grin).

Like I said, it's not a walk in the park, but lots of us willingly do it again, so it is doable!

HTH smile

lowrib Fri 03-Dec-10 12:51:52

Cross posts ragged. Deep breaths are good!

grumpybrusselsprout Fri 03-Dec-10 12:57:24

Brilliant idea to try for a waterbirth, and to be open minded about pain relief.
My biggest tip is this : Don't panic when you are in the early stages, thinking "OMG its going to get so much worse than this!"
For me, it didn't. It got more intense but not more painful.
And be open to an epidural, mine was wonderful and I can honestly say it helped me enjoy the best day of my life smile
<slightly tearful emoticon>

lowrib Fri 03-Dec-10 13:01:12

Sorry I read your OP quickly (I shouldn't be here at all - I really should be studying!) and missed the bit about your mum.

But let me say again, you will manage. And you will have your lovely baby at the end of it grin

SparklyJules Fri 03-Dec-10 13:05:19

Hey, you do sound as though you have overloaded on information!

I have had two very normal, non-assisted deliveries.

My first baby was born after a 24 hour labour. It wasn't horrific, it was hard work though but I knew that I had a job to do and it would be tough. She was delivered to the sound of my laughter, a mixture of gas and air and pure relief! My son was delivered after a 4.5 hour labour, a much speedier entrance to the world! No horror stories to report from me.

My best advice is to listen to the midwives. Really listen to what they are telling you, they are there to help you. Don't be a martyr to pain either - yes, childbirth is painful but you will overcome this. If you are offered pain relief then it is your right to say "yes please, thank you very much" and take it. The more you can do to stay calm, focused and relaxed will help your labour.

And you get the best prize at the end of it - focus on that!

onlyjuststillme Fri 03-Dec-10 13:16:20

If you tip the info up on its head it can work in your favour - For every X no of horrible births there are X no of straight worward simple births. Your Mum and your friens have used up a lot of the allocation of horrid births so you must be more likely to have a good one?????

WriterofDreams Fri 03-Dec-10 13:25:53

Oh thanks girls I can't tell you what a difference a few reassuring words can make! To be honest I think half my problem comes from my mum really. All my life all I've ever heard from her about childbirth is that's it's awful, horrific, undignified etc etc etc. She carries such trauma that if a woman is giving birth on a tv programme (fictional or otherwise) she has to turn over because she can't bear to watch it.

To be fair to her my younger sister's birth was awful and my sister nearly died. She ended up with a lifelong disability which isn't hugely limiting but which my mother feels terribly sad and guilty about. I think all that negativity has seeped into my brain and much as I would like to stay positive, I'm finding it hard. Sometimes you just want someone to hug you and say "It's going to be ok" even if there's no way they can know that!

Really I feel ok about the pain and I'm willing to get an epidural if needs be. Pain in itself is not scary to me, it's more the dread I have of feeling out of control and panicky, particularly if I'm not listened to or if things start to go wrong. I was sexually abused as a child, and while that doesn't interfere with my life in any way at the moment, I do think it is colouring my views of childbirth as the thought of someone taking control of my body really really freaks me out. I don't think it'll help me to tell the MW about it because she really is a matter of fact sort of person and I don't think she'll be sympathetic. I'm sure it'll only make me feel worse.

As far as the forceps are concerned, they're usually used when the baby is too far up the birth canal for a ventouse. They're metal and are clamped around the baby's head. They are banned in some countries. I know of a couple of people whose babies were permanently damaged by them and one woman who is doubly incontinent after they were used on her. A doctor friend advised me to refuse them on the basis of what she's seen. What baffles me about them is that midwives seem to insist they have to be used and that they're safe until you realise you know about them or have had them before. Then they give in and allow you to refuse them (this has happened to a couple of friends).

Thanks for reminding me about those things ragged
I want the vitamin K injection
I definitely want skin to skin (why should they even ask this??) I'm planning on breastfeeding and I don't give a toss who cuts the umbilical cord (lol). What's rooming in?

Catilla Fri 03-Dec-10 13:30:05

You've had some good advice here. I would say the same re:
- I've had two good births, even including a bit of induction and having my waters broken.
- Only a relatively small % of births need assistance - it's quite unlikely you'll go the same way as your friends.
- Focus on your plans for coping, it's your labour not the hospital's, and you will know when their suggestions are the right thing to go with at the time.
- Find out more about how your body can help/allow the labour & delivery... eg. I remember focusing on how the perineum is more relaxed if the jaw is relaxed, and also hearing a story about a paralysed body being able to give birth, as the uterine muscles can do it all themselves - so I thought about wriggling/opening my jaw and about not stopping my body from letting things happen.
- Plan to stay mobile & upright as long as you can, to let gravity help.
- I found TENS and G&A gave me a little structure to follow for every contraction, and my mind was totally focused on trying to do the right things in the right order to cope, and feeling as the contraction subsided so I could stop breathing the G&A, and turn down the TENS, to relax between contractions.
- It will all be over very soon. Of course there are some things about a bad experience which stay with you afterwards eg. scars to heal, but while you're in the thick of it, it's very unlikely to go on for much longer, and then will all be over. It's not like you are choosing something you have to live with forever.

Just one more thought: Of course your birth plan can say what you'd prefer to avoid, but I would say it's not a good idea to completely rule things out, because usually if the baby is stuck near to the end, they try ventouse before forceps, and CS may not be an option at that stage, as the baby is too far down and it's harder to pull back up inside. If this does happen (it's unlikely) then you may well be best to go with the medical advice - as this is aimed at getting the healthiest outcome for mother and baby given the risks involved.

Good luck! Try reading some positive birth stories on the web instead of all the bad things. I take the view that if things go well you can keep it going yourself, but if they go wrong it turns into a medical procedure and you trust the docs to get it right - just like you would for any other procedure eg. operation or heart attack.

Catilla Fri 03-Dec-10 13:33:03

Also... (just saw x-post) it's (presumably) a long time since your mother gave birht... things have changed a lot eg. monitoring which can give early indication of problems with the baby.

bigredtractor Fri 03-Dec-10 13:41:38

Hello - my first baby is 6 weeks old - I was as terrified as you and in danger of information overload. My first labour was 8 hours - from first contraction to baby popping out, so first doesn't always mean long and painful. It wasn't a walk in the park, but certainly not the horror show I'd built up in my mind.

Remember that no two births are the same - everyone's experience is unique so there is little benefit in trying to compare.

AVOID negative stories wherever you can (as in don't go looking for them!) - it really helps to put you in a positive frame of mind.

Good luck - you'll be amazing - like every mum!

SelinaDoula Fri 03-Dec-10 13:46:59

My advice would be to keep breathing. Have you considered stating you do not want vaginal exams unless there is a specific reason and only after they have been explained (I have worked with a couple of clients who have had previous childhood sexual abuse and they requested this so it wouldn't be a trigger for them).
I would ask if you have considered a doula, I know you don'thave long now, but I had one client I met the night before she went intio labour, so its never too late! (see
My other tip would be to stay at home as long as possible, many labours that end up with intervention go in much too early in the belief that being at hospital will make things happen. Its only harder there, less space to mobilise in, less things to distract you etc
Good luck,
Selina x

rudbekia Fri 03-Dec-10 14:06:01

i am also a first-timer and it is difficult not to become completely overwhelmed by impending birth.
a couple of things which i am trying to keep in mind:

my body is designed to cope and if things go wrong the people around will do everything they can to keep me and baby safe - even if that means doing things which might leave me in more pain afterwards, remember an alive and well mum and baby is what's important!

its all very well writing a birth plan, but no one labour is the same and to a large extent we have very little control (if any) about what will happen.

having ideas about what you want IS important, but i think being flexible is MORE important in the long-run.

there is such as thing as setting yourself up for a fall. i am a great believer in positive thinking. if you go into labour in a panic then it will prob hurt more. try and listen to your body.

breathe, breathe and breathe!

my best friend recently gave birth - ended up with ventouse, forceps and finally an emcs. she and baby are doing really well and she's just relieved to have a happy, healthy baby. whilst the experience sounds pretty grim, you'd be suprised just how relisiant we are!

try doing some deep relaxation - imagine your birth as somethig exciting and're about to meet your baby.


WriterofDreams Fri 03-Dec-10 14:08:00

Thanks bigredtractor and Selina

It's annoying how unpredictable the whole thing is isn't it? Everything from the day you give birth to what's actually going to happen can't be planned for. I suppose all I can do is try to keep calm (the one thing I'm not succeeding very well at lol) and just take it as it comes.

My DH is going to come to the midwife appointment with me today so that'll help me to make sure I get my wishes across and it'll also give him an idea of what the attitudes are going to be like among the midwives at the hospital. I expect some resistance from my midwife, especially on the forceps issue.

That's a good idea about the VEs Selina. I was hoping that if I used the pool that this would protect me somewhat from the problem of too many VEs but I suppose I can't assume that I'll get to use the pool so I'd better state this clearly on my plan. I despise hospitals and would go for a home birth only for my fear of what happened to my sister happening to my baby, so I'll definitely be staying at home for as long as I can!

WriterofDreams Fri 03-Dec-10 14:21:56

I think you're totally right about being flexible rudbekia and that's something I do have difficulty with, probably due to the abuse. I've heard of quite a few people having their waters broken or having a syntocin drip inserted without being properly consulted and something like that happening, where I felt out of control, would scare me far more than pain or the procedure itself. So that's why I feel the need to be clear on these things before the event so that I don't have to worry about them in the thick of things.

I am never going to budge on the forceps issue though. The fact that people can go from having a forceps to then having an emcs shows that in many cases it isn't too late for a cs when forceps are proposed, rather they are proposed to avoid having a cs. I'd rather have a cs than forceps so I'm going to make that clear.

SelinaDoula Fri 03-Dec-10 14:38:41

Are the staff aware of your history? They should be trained to minimise trauma to you in this scenario.
If the midwife is at all resistant to your needs (and you are trying to protect your mental health here!) you should ask to, see a senior midwife, either a consultant midwife if you have one or a supervisor of midwives.
I will post an anonymised section of one of my clients birth plans below (she had a traumatic first birth and was planning her second birth)

"L is a sexual abuse survivor who has also suffered a previous traumatic birth and so it is crucial for her well-being to be treated gently and respectfully at all times, and for her to give fully informed consent to any and all procedures, examinations and medications both for herself and for the baby. Please make sure that any requests or recommendations are not phrased as orders or demands, e.g. “May I listen to the baby’s heartbeat now?” rather than “I have to listen to the baby now”.

We will also be using hypnosis as a primary means of comfort in labour, and would really appreciate your co-operation with this. Please keep the birthing room quiet and peaceful and refrain from speaking to L during contractions

First stage Labour:
Mother would like to remain upright and active as much as possible
No vaginal exams unless specifically requested by mother

Second stage Labour:
Mother will begin pushing when she feels the urge
Please do not direct pushing - mother will push with her own urges
Mother prefers to deliver in the water and will bring baby up herself
If not delivering in water mother would like to deliver in upright positions or on hands and knees, and to avoid lying on her back, or semi-reclining positions
No episiotomy - mother prefers to tear

Third stage Labour:
Physiological, unless definite indications of hemorrhage
In the case of tears mother would prefer to avoid sutures unless absolutely necessary
If sutures required, please use local anaesthetic to numb the area first


barkfox Fri 03-Dec-10 14:48:16

WriterofDreams, I think it's worth reconsidering your decision not to mention sexual abuse as a factor in your anxieties about birth.

I won't go into my long and boring story - but you won't be the first person for whom this is an issue, and they probably will and should take it into account when dealing with you.

I think it helps medical professionals to know why someone might have a strong negative reaction to various things like VEs, or has a particular fear of being dealt with in a certain way. I think the issue of being in control is very common among the formerly abused - and I think it's really important around birth issues.

Obviously you feel uncomfortable mentioning it, but as I say, you won't be the first. And if you want to be very assertive about your birth plan, it can help MWs to know why you feel the way you do, and indeed stop them dismissing your concerns. A lot of first time mums apparently have very detailed and specific birth plans, and you might be taken more seriously if you are clear why you are planning.

I think with regard to VEs, you are better off saying you don't want them, or want as few as possible, and why, upfront when you are calm, collected and not actually in labour.

It's also very much worth getting something recorded in your actual notes about procedures you feel strongly about. You might see umpteen different medical professionals during labour and birth - you don't want to have to keep explaining yourself and your preferences over and over again.

barkfox Fri 03-Dec-10 14:51:06

Ah - cross post with Selina, that's all very sensible!

FWIW, I saw a consultant MW, who was absolutely brilliant and very helpful. Much more so than I imagined would be the case.

SelinaDoula Fri 03-Dec-10 14:57:48

PS if you want to PM me I'm happy to chat on the phone and if you let me know you're hospital/area i'll try to find out who would be best for you to talk too.
Having supported a client who did not disclose her birth and had a raumatic time (not really due to interventions, but how childbirth made her feel because of her history)
I would advise you to get a senior midwife involved so the staff know your history and will know how to support you.
(((Hugs))) you are very brave to tell us on here.
S x

LunaticFringe Fri 03-Dec-10 15:01:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AliMay2009 Fri 03-Dec-10 15:02:45

I was absolutely petrified of giving birth for the first time but my body took over and from my first contraction my daughter was born 7 hours later. I had gas and air and pethidine but what helped me most was using the birthing ball - I must have looked ridiculous but I at that stage I didn't care!

You will be fine and you will have your baby with you very soon!


WriterofDreams Fri 03-Dec-10 16:18:16

Thanks again girls, all your words of reassurance really help, much more so than any birthplan I think

Just back from the midwife and she was much more understanding than I expected her to be. Normally she's quite brusque but she was very friendly today which helped an awful lot. I didn't mention about the abuse mainly because I hadn't worked myself up to it and I need to do that in order to say it to someone face to face. It's much easier to type it here. I'll certainly consider mentioning it to a midwife when I'm actually at the hospital - at that stage I'll be sort of pushed into mentioning it which strangely makes it easier.

Thank you so much for your kind offer Selina. I think I need to have a chat to my DH about the whole abuse thing and get my head straight on it, so I may take you up on it at a later stage if that's ok

Thanks to all you lovely ladies I now feel so much better, so you are all required to treat yourselves this evening as a thank you from me

tiokiko Fri 03-Dec-10 16:58:45

I am a real worrier too, was v scared about the birth, esp as all of my friends seemed to have had a tough time.

Then I remember speaking to an old school friend about 3 weeks before EDD and she told me that although some parts are tough and not a lot of fun, overall she found it not too bad. I really remember her saying that our bodies are amazing things and that it wasn't necessarily going to be awful.

That really gave me confidence that it didn't have to be horrendous. If it helps you to hear good stories as well as the more alarming ones, then I promise you that I found it nothing like as bad as I'd imagined. It was a slow labour at home for 3+ days but it never really got worse than that - I kept waiting for it to kick in properly but it just felt like a gradual build-up.

Crowning really didn't hurt, despite the fact that I tore and needed stitches. I used TENS only to 8cm then G&A. I felt fine after, a little wobbly but OK. It was a really positive experience.

Have you thought about trying hypnobirthing? I'm not saying it will make everything pain-free but it might help you to relax and give you something to focus on in terms of breathing etc and I don't think there are any downsides. I used the Natal Hypnotherapy CD and found it helpful.

elk4baby Fri 03-Dec-10 18:12:59

Here, this may help

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