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Should I watch One Born Every Minute if I have a labour phobia?

(62 Posts)
DueinFeb Sun 07-Oct-12 14:56:20

I have always avoided all labour information (childbirth not the political party), details, facts and images - If it comes on the tv I turn over and if a friend starts describing the horrific facts of someone's experience I change the subject. I really am ignorant of what is involved in the process and never thought I would need to know. Now my own labour is approaching (at age of 30) and I am absolutely terrified. shock

I turned OBEM on the other day and watched 5 minutes - in which I saw two ladies violently vomiting into cardboard bowls - which really didn't help my fear! My Q - should I watch a full episode? Will it make me feel better or worse? Or is ignorance bliss when it comes to labour? I also haven't been to any classes. I am scared of the pain and the indignity of it all. I have never spent any time in a hospital, never been seriously ill, never had an operation. I am the sort of person who wouldn't get changed in front of other women in a swimming changing room - so the idea of being that exposed is, to put it plainly, petrifying.
Should I bite the bullet and watch it or just stay safe in the dark till D-Day? Only supportive answers please - "PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER YOU DAFT COW" not helpful grin.

NulliusInBlurba Sun 07-Oct-12 18:39:12

Oh, my love, nobody is going to call you a daft cow or anything so silly. I think everyone is at the least a bit apprehensive before their first birth, but what you're feeling is well on the way to tokophobia, a full-fledged phobia of giving birth. Nobody should ever insult or belittle you for feeling like that.

However, I DO think there's a lot you can do to improve the experience for yourself. I really wouldn't advice staying in 'blissful' ignorance, because actually you're not blissful about this, are you? - you're terrified. The link posted above from OBEM about Heather giving birth in the bath is great and lovely to watch, but Heather wasn't actually nervous leading up to it, she just went with the flow and it worked out for her.

Three main things that might help you view the process more positively:

Try hypnobirthing, either as a CD or a course if you can afford it. You're trying to train your brain into realising that it's all actually going to be fine, whatever happens. Birth IS unpredictable, so you need to teach yourself techniques for staying calm, even if things don't quite go to plan (for instance if a EMCS is recommended at the last minute).

Secondly, I think things are a lot easier if you have a confident, reassuring birth partner who is there all the time for you (and your DP might be too stressed to do that properly). Would you be able to afford a doula? A doula would be able to 'fight your corner' with possibly overworked hospital staff and check that your needs are being met. Make a birth plan with your doula (or other birthing partner) and check with the hospital how likely it is that this plan can/will be met. You're scared of the pain (fair enough) - what option would suit you for early labour, would you want an epidural for later on? You're scared of the indignity (also fair enough) - work out which clothes would best make you feel secure, emphasise in your birth plan that you don't want the world and his dog traipsing into the room, but also just consider the idea that in the middle of labour you really won't care about indignity.

Finally, just a suggestion, but if things are that bad, you might want to consider finding a consultant who would do a ELCS. Yes, there are risks involved with it - it's major surgery - but might actually be more sensible than going ahead with a vaginal birth when so overwhelmingly afraid.

I think you DO need to arm yourself with info about how labour progresses, and how and why the 'normal' procedure might need to be changed for medical reasons. Otherwise there is a risk that you will totally freak out by being confronted with so much new information while in labour itself. I DON'T think that watching OBEM is necessarily the best way of preparing - as was said above, it's very sensationalist.

Labour really doesn't have to be something dreadful - I did it twice, in a lovely environment (a private birthing centre) accompanied by DP and two midwives, with zero pain relief - once on all fours, once in the bath. I didn't do this because I am some sort of masochist or 'brave', but because I have a morbid fear of hospitals. So I dealt with that fear by setting up a system whereby I could give birth and bypass the hospital altogether - but I was always aware of the risk that in a medical emergency both me and the baby would be transferred to hospital.

NulliusInBlurba Sun 07-Oct-12 18:41:57

Ah, dueinfeb - we cross-posted. One of the things I did do in both pregnancies was pregnancy yoga, and it helped enormously. We did lots of physical stuff, but also piles of meditation, positive thinking, getting to 'know' your baby in your tum etc. I loved it. The course was taught by a midwife, and we also had a few minutes each week where we could ask her general questions and talk about our worries.

Spice17 Sun 07-Oct-12 18:56:35

I can honestly say The Midwives programme that was recently on the BBC really helped me, I found it helpful and informative and it actually made me realise childbirth is not horrific and can be a positive experience (and I used to be absolutley DISGUSTED by this sort of thing).

I wasn't even going to have children because of my extreme fear of labour but am now 40+1 and praying for some action!

Now I'm not saying I'm not scared and if I think about it a lot my heart starts to thump but I'm trying to think positive. This has come with accepting dd will be arriving and I have no choice, so I may as well TRY to view it as a positive thing, in the hope that this will make birth calmer and smoother.

By the way, would not watch anything like that at this stage, there's knowing and rubbing it in my very pregnant face smile

Good luck to you!

DueinFeb Sun 07-Oct-12 19:02:18

Thank you Nullius - I don't know what a doula is? It looks like I will have to do some research. Thank you for your long response. My partner I think will be very very supportive - but he doesn't want me doing it anywhere but a hospital because he heard about a woman on the news that died - something to do with her placenta and not being at a hospital. He said that if anything went wrong and we weren't at a hospital and something happened to me etc... I don't want anyone seeing me in that position although I think my partner will calm me down. I am absolutely terrified though. When I saw the 5 mins of OBEM I cried and didnt sleep properly for days - I have only just got over that. But I didnt watch the happy baby ending. Just two women vomiting. Did I mention I also have a fear of vomiting? Oh dear...

DueinFeb Sun 07-Oct-12 19:05:21

Thanks Spice! Do you know the name of the program? I am assuming you mean a documentary type thing? Or do you mean 'midwives' with Miranda Hart in it? Which I also avoided like the plague.

NoTeaForMe Sun 07-Oct-12 19:12:26

I think that giving birth could be a terrifying experience if you didn't know what was going on or understand what was happening. The midwives/dr's will probably need you to make decisions about pain relief and things like that, and you can't make them without knowing anything about them. I personally think that having a little bit of knowledge is power and it takes out a big part of what could be scary.

You're not being daft, giving birth for the first time can be scary partly because you have no idea what to expect...I would ask if there's a way you can talk thoroughly with your midwife about what you can expect. Research the different pain relief and have some knowledge.

I don't think OBEM is a great idea (not terrible either though!) as they are people picked to be entertaining not to be the 'average' (if there is such a thing!!) birthing experience.

You need to do whatever you need to do to help you be calm and confident!

Tattoopixie Sun 07-Oct-12 19:23:39

Hey DueinFeb I also have severe anxieties about health-related things and have a extreme phobia of vomiting. That is the main thing i'm worried about for my labour. I'm due in february so I still have a way to go but decided to opt for a NCT birth companion (or Doula) to accompany me and my partner at the birth as I think she will help to keep me calm etc. The NCT has various concessions available for different incomes so you don't always have to pay the top whack price. We had our initial meeting with her last week and I already feel calmer about the thought of labour, especially as she was very positive about labour and birthing. Maybe that could be something you could look into to support you and your partner during your labour? Hope this helps a little.

DueinFeb Sun 07-Oct-12 19:30:11

thank you Tattoopixie - don't want to sound stupid but what does NCT stand for and where do you get a this person? It sounds really good. ps - good luck for Feb smile

Figgygal Sun 07-Oct-12 19:33:54

Oh my god you could be me I was 30 when has DS in December and would feel Ill and twitchy at the thought of childbirth and pregnancy.

I did find obem good to watch as though it is entertainment I did find it a good reference also I went to pregnancy yoga which really informed me and helped my prepare mentally

NeedToSleepZZZ Sun 07-Oct-12 19:34:55

Thoroughly recommend reading Ina May and also doing Hypnobirthing.

Tattoopixie I am extremely emetophobic too and that was my biggest issue with child birth. I was promised and given an anti emetic injection at the onset of established labour and never felt a second of nausea, you can ask for this to be put in your notes if you discuss it with your midwife. If you want any more advice then feel free to pm me smile

FatimaLovesBread Sun 07-Oct-12 19:35:01

If you reacted that badly to watching 5 minutes, then yeah I think avoiding it would be a better idea smile

I'd advise reading or doing a class or some research so it's not all completely unexpected, maybe search for some of the thread on positive birth stories? Or as said above, look in to a doula who will be informed of your fears

PollyIndia Sun 07-Oct-12 20:16:35

I agree with those that say educate yourself but not through watching OBEM. I am nearly 42 weeks and have never seen it. But I've read Ina May Gaskin and done a hypnobirthing course and lots of pregnancy yoga. Hypnobirthing is far and away what you need if you want to stop the fear of labour. I am not scared at all. A bit pissed off to still be pregnant (!!) but not scare of the labour itself. And that's all down to hypnobirthing I think. So if it does nothing on the day, it was worth doing the course just to be able to get to this point with no fear.

Good luck!

kellestar Sun 07-Oct-12 20:16:40

When I was first expecting [DD is now 21 months old] I wasn't keen on watching anything, but a friend really recommended it. She did me the biggest favour. She is a GP, but did a number of rotations in different departments, including deliveries and nicu so had a vast knowledge and patience. She prewatched, made notes, sat with me and prewarned of bits that might be worrying. She also talked through different ways of handling things. She was excellent and well worth the cake I made her for each OBEM. I did watch them on my own after a while and found the fore knowledge helped me understand that every woman is different and each delivery is different.

I had my NCT classes cancelled as I was the only one signed up locally and though given another option it was too late [8pm-10pm] over an hour drive away. All the NHS ones were on days where I had consultant appointments.

I knew that my pregnancy was high risk [weight] so would deliver at a consultant led unit. Was freaked that they'd just decide on a CS. I had a lovely VB with a lovely midwife and it was exactly what I wanted, but not what I was expecting. My friend had prepared me for all options and I think I'd mentally prepared myself for a long labour.

So I would advise that if you haven't got a friend like mine, find out about doulas, they can offer very similar services. The support they can offer you is in addition to your midwife, the good thing is that you can shop around to find the right person for you.

My DH also watched OBEM on his own with friends notes, it helped him understand what labour is all about and how useful active birth partners can be. He was excellent and really supportive, helped me relax and concentrate, he knew exactly what my wishes were [birth plan etc]. Having him prepared helped me so much.

I am due DC2 in April next year and have been told that I am classed as low risk this time. It has opened up more options for me, last time being high risk meant that the options were slightly more limited, but that was good [for me] in a way, as less to panic/mull over.

Iggly Sun 07-Oct-12 20:22:03

The problem with obem is that that is not how labour will be from your pov.

My first labour was hard - 2 hours of pushing, blood loss, stitches but even straight after (and during) I wasn't scared just bloody tired and hungry. DH on the other hand was bricking it!

Read Ina May Gaskin and do yoga if you can. You can learn a lot about labour without making it scary.

Dualta Sun 07-Oct-12 22:45:29

I watched it when I was pregnant last year, to be honest there are so many different types of births - and you really cannot know what type of birth experience you will have going into it.

Some of the births are a bit sensationalised, lots of loud howling/pain and sometimes distress whilst others look almost unbelievably serene.

You don't hear much from the women about how they felt about the birth experience in the show - I found talking through recent the birth experience of a couple of close friends gave me more insight into what to expect - than watching the show. Esp as labour can be long and boring before the final stage!

Have you got any friends who would share their perspective with you? Lots on MN as well.

I found listening to hypnobirthing cds put me into a 'what will be will be' sort of frame of mind - which defo helped.

Orenishii Sun 07-Oct-12 22:56:41

Watching OBEM REALLY brought it home to me how much holding your breath, panicking, and not really dealing with it mentally - or at least trying to - can hinder the whole process.

Of course things might happen, but in the process of a regular birth, your body is doing something amazing, that goes far away from how much perhaps we're mentally and emotionally removed from our bodies. OBEM helped me a lot in that I realised tensing up, not breathing, not letting things go way my body will dictate them will not help me.

I get the whole having lived your life getting changed in a cubicle thing smile But during child birth, I tend to thing the more you give yourself up to it, the better time you'll have of it, at least mentally and emotionally. To let go, to surrender yourself to the amazing thing your body will do, is probably the best way to keep calm.

Londonmrs I love that birth! I've watched it so many times in the lead up to my own!

MB34 Sun 07-Oct-12 23:51:49

I would say avoid watching any part of it.

When I first became pregnant, I watched a few episodes on the basis that I'd see the worst and my birth could only be better - it scared the living daylights out of me! (Although I did watch the episode that someone linked to earlier and was quite inspired by that one birth experience!)

However, I have signed up to do a hypnobirthing course, I have only done one session, but since reading the book, I haven't watched an episode since.

Hypnobirthing teaches you that your body is designed to give birth so have faith in your body that it knows what it's doing. It also encourages you to envisage how you want your birthing experience to play out - making it more likely to happen (sort of like olympic athletes visualising themselves crossing the finishing line first to spur them on to win - it wouldn't cross their minds to visualise themselves finishing second/third/last!)

I may not be explaining this very well and I hope you get what I am trying to say. Maybe reading a hypnobirthing book or watching a DVD may calm you a little.

I also don't like the indignity of it all - but with hypnobirthing - if all goes to plan there shouldn't be much interference from anyone. However, just incase, I have bought a crop top/bra thing and a long nighty to keep things covered!

panicnotanymore Mon 08-Oct-12 07:36:12

I don't watch birth programmes, and would go as far as to say that the reason I waited until the last possible minute to have kids (age 39) was down to the birth video the school made us watch age 13. I left a bit traumatised by that.

I think some people find OBEM helpful, but if you don't, don't watch it. Read up on the process, speak to your midwife, avoid women who love re-telling the tale of their own labours over and over again. ime the worse the labour, the more they like to talk about it!

We're all different, me, I'm ok with the idea of birth, but really not ok with watching it on TV.

ohmeohmy Mon 08-Oct-12 08:17:08

Watch births on the hypnobirthing channel on YouTube. Totally different to what you are expecting to see and very reassuring

DueinFeb Mon 08-Oct-12 10:13:38

Everyone seems to be quite sold on 'hypnobirthing' which I had never heard of. I am going to try and type hypno birth classes into google and see what I can find. I think I will stay away from OBEM - as the 5 mins I saw were so scarring. I will also check out this Ina May person. It seems I have lots of options. Thank you thanks

DueinFeb Mon 08-Oct-12 10:19:03

ps - for those who asked if a friend could help with their story. I am only the 2nd person out of my entire group of friends to have a baby and the first had a nightmare birth - waters broke on Monday and had to be sent home for ages - days - because nothing was happening - she planned a water birth but then the baby was back to back or in breech or something (no clue! I avoid these things) then she had to go back to hospital so couldnt do the water birth and was there for days and then had to be cut. I listened to the story and she might as well have been describing Texas Chainsaw Massacre in detail. That didnt help. Then my cousin's friend had a baby and my cousin said - with her hands on mine - "er..... I won't tell you about the labour" - I AM absolutely sick with fear sad

Londonmrss Mon 08-Oct-12 10:19:47

I'd like to give a tiny opposing view to all the Ina May Gaskin recommendations. I actually found it rather judgmental in its opposition to medical intervention- as if people who do end up going down that route have somehow failed. I understand the philosophy of thinking of birth as a natural process rather than a medical one which is why I'd recommend 'Effective Birth Preparation' by Maggie Howell instead. Although I'm not keen on the CDs that go with it, the book has really helped me.

Purplecatti Mon 08-Oct-12 10:31:55

I am terrified of hospitals and 'gukky' things happening to me and I'm due this week!
My mum has been the nicest and most helpful person. She told me that seeing it and hearing it are very different to doing it and experiencing it yourself.
If it was that bad people wouldn't do it more than once.
She said she was so terrified with her first (me) that she turned up and the hospital, heard a woman screaming and she fainted! It took two midwives to drag her into the delivery room. But she said it wasn't so bad in the end, when things get under way she said just to go with whatever your body seems to tell you.
I'm going for a home birth which at least overrides the hospital phobia and my midwives are WELL aware of my fear of being meddled with and I'm very lucky they've all been so understanding.
Mention it to your midwife, you're not silly for having fear and sometimes just voicing your fear to the powers that be helps relieve some of the tension.

I've steered clear of OBEM as it looks a bit dramatic for me but I did watch an episode of the BBC one and that was OK.

dinkystinky Mon 08-Oct-12 10:33:26

No - read "Childbirth Without Fear" and some Ina May Gaskin and look into hypnobirthing - they'll be far more helpful. Each person's labour, and how they react to it and feel in it, is different - watching OBEM really wont help you cope with yor phobia/panic.

aimingtobeaperfectionist Mon 08-Oct-12 10:47:48

I have a terrible fear of vomiting but when I was sick during labour, I can't tell you how much better I felt. Don't worry about that bit, it just happens- you throw up and get back to business. you'll have a lot more to concentrate on at that point. Also, I cried the entire way through. I mean literally from 7pm till DD was born at 2pm the next day blush no one was bothere apart from me.

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