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Being scared of childbirth..

(37 Posts)
ohthegoats Mon 01-Sep-14 18:28:17

.. I have a question that I hope won't offend anyone - it's not intended to, just a genuine query, but my opinion of it might be offensive I suppose. It's something I've read about loads on here.

People post about being pregnant, but being terrified (or other word considered worse than anxious or scared) of childbirth, and wanting an ELCS.

First, it's not a surprise that childbirth is part of pregnancy right? So why would someone choose to be pregnant without having sorted out trying to deal with the fear first?

Second, no one loves it surely? It hurts, we all know that before we get pregnant. Pretty much everyone over the age of about 8 knows that childbirth hurts. It is a scary or potentially anxiety causing event, most medical things are.

Third, a C-section isn't a walk in the park either, some recoveries can be horrible, and it's major abdominal surgery. So what makes it such a better option?

Is the fear really about the unknown aspects of vaginal birth? How things don't go to plan very often? Some fear of hospitals and medical professionals (I can absolutely understand that one!)? Lack of control in vaginal birth?

I am tending to think that if you are 'terrified' of childbirth, are already pregnant, and are going in to consultants to 'demand' C-sections (which some people on here are advised to do in some threads), then you should also be prepared to pay privately for your surgery. I know someone will come along and say that a C-section is only x amount more money than a vaginal birth etc, because they always do, but it's still more money out of a cash strapped NHS.

ohthegoats Mon 01-Sep-14 18:29:56

Oh, and I should say that C-section after a vaginal birth that has gone wrong/caused long term issues etc, is a slightly different kettle of fish. I can understand that. It's more the first time pregnancy things that I don't really 'get'.

Sahkoora Mon 01-Sep-14 18:41:58

I think it's a fear of the unknown. Of course everyone knows it's painful, but none of us knows how long our labours will last, if we will be able to cope with the level of pain, or if we will be adequately supported and given the things that we ask for.

With my first I was terrified that midwives would turn me away from the hospital, refuse to give me an epidural if I asked for one, that I would end up with an instrumental delivery, that I would lose my dignity in many ways that I had heard about from other mothers.

I think compared to those fears, the measurable, calm process of an elcs can seem like something more controllable. After all, it's quite possible to go through 48 hours or more of terrible pain and end up with a section anyway.

youmakemydreams Mon 01-Sep-14 18:51:31

I was the most terrified pregnant woman ever first time around. If they had told me they were going to knock me out and when I woke up I'd have a baby I would have done it.
You ask why not address the fear beforehand? Probably because I had no idea how terrified I'd be until I was pregnant. Also it's not until you are pregnant and meeting with the professionals and they tell you that you will only get an epidural IF there is and anaesthetist free and other prophesies of doom that you realise it may not go entirely how you pictures it. You are made to feel at the mercy of the resources available at the time you go into labour rather than you can plan what will happen to you.
It was also the unknown. Once you conceive is when friends and strangers feel the need to share their birth stories with you. And they all seem to have had horrendous births. There are very few people that delight in telling you how easy it was.

The reality was that when I went into labour I actually had, as far as labour goes, an easy time of it. I coped well, was well supported by some fantastic midwives and coped really well. By the time number two and three came along the thought is a c-section filled me with dread.

Gwlondon Mon 01-Sep-14 20:41:20

Childbirth doesn't hurt for everyone. There a few women who have "orgasmic births". Apparently one lady I know had one. There is this whole area of thinking that the fear of childbirth causes the pain. Mine wasn't orgasmic, mine was intense but I would not describe it as pain. I would say it was intense like a fever. I did want it to stop but I didn't think it was painful.

squizita Mon 01-Sep-14 21:51:58

I've had friends who have told me repeatedly how a vb 'ruined' their bodies. Really terrifying.
And this idea that evil doctors are waiting to chop your fanjo up without your consent that some people who are very the other way (lovely natural birth) perpetuate.

I think stories like that can really shake people up.

squizita Mon 01-Sep-14 22:01:13

Oh and psychologically it isn't as simple as 'you should know in advance'.
Elements of my anxiety I wouldn't have anticipated have been worse than before, and elements I thought would be messing with my head have been fine.

Mental health is real health. If issues cannot be dealt with by counselling, the patient still deserves care.
Would you post here suggesting a woman who has broken her pelvis in the past and knows it should be forced to go private?

Extend that logic and anyone who needs a consultant and sort of knows it beforehand should start paying up upon BFP (even though they've paid taxes and NI all their lives).
Should a woman who had a C section before and knows she'll have one - and a consultant - for her second child, pay her way because she got pregnant knowing she will have the surgery?
Mental health is health.
The cost of an ELC vs the cost of a complex VB or a VB + counselling + PND etc' for years is not clean cut.

Interestingly my counselling put me onto a MLU birth as the best option for my anxiety. I dare say this means a smaller ratio of MW to patient ect and thus expensive. Given that everyone else there is just an NHS patient (as are all the other women having c sections) should I have to pay privately or run the gauntlet of the labour ward because I've been placed in the MLU to ease anxiety?

Thurlow Tue 02-Sep-14 10:04:29

I don't think you mean too badly with your question - but if you pull back a bit and look at what are are suggestion, it is actually pretty offensive.

Clearly many people won't know in advance how scared they are going to be by labour. I wasn't keen on the idea, but I didn't really start to have some serious issue with the thought of a vb until I was gone 20w (in my mind, the point where nothing else could happen bar giving birth to the baby - not that I wanted anything else to happen) and realised this baby was getting pretty big. So a fear of childbirth may only arise during pregnancy.

But let's say you have a fear of childbirth before you get pregnant.

So why would someone choose to be pregnant without having sorted out trying to deal with the fear first?

I am no expert, but I imagine it is difficult to access counselling and support on the NHS for fear of childbirth before getting pregnant. Not because I think the NHS would think it is silly, but people struggle to get appointments for depression or anxiety; fear of an 'at some point' labour is going to be low down anyone's list for treatment until you are actually pregnant. By which point you are pregnant, and if counselling can't help too much, what else is there to do?

Which essentially means that you should be paying privately for counselling prior to TTC.

I am tending to think that if you are 'terrified' of childbirth, are already pregnant, and are going in to consultants to 'demand' C-sections (which some people on here are advised to do in some threads), then you should also be prepared to pay privately for your surgery

Have you thought about what you are saying here? Because it boils down to very little more than "if you're scared of childbirth, you can only have a child if you can afford to pay for a cs."

It must be hard to compute because you clearly weren't scared of childbirth. Apprehensive, maybe, nervous, yes - but not terrified. But can you not imagine a situation where someone's terror is coming into conflict with their desire for a child?

But according to you, if they haven't got the finances to pay for either counselling or a private cs, then tough luck, they can't have a child?

And you want to say that in the 21st century when, fortunately, we have epidurals and cs's and things that can help women who are terrified of giving birth to have children?

At core, what your post says to me is something that I get the impression underlines a lot of people's views on childbirth and being a mother. And that is the sense that you just HAVE to go through a lot of pain and anxiety to have your baby. As if it is somehow the first test of motherhood. And if you can't cope with the pain or the distress or the anxiety, you've done something somehow wrong.

I can only say that I wasn't keen on the idea of childbirth - not terrified, but certainly nearer that than comfortable with impending labour - because I didn't like the unknown possibility of 2 days of pain followed by potentially tearing myself apart pushing a baby out. It's not unnatural to really, really not like the idea of being in pain - just as it's not unnatural to feel comfortable with the idea of labour and almost look forward to it.

MrsPatMustard Tue 02-Sep-14 10:36:46

Why do people get pregnant when they are terrified of childbirth - probably because the urge to become a mother is overwhelming. You can want it with all your heart, still doesn't stop the panic. Took me ten years to find the courage to get pregnant because of my childbirth phobia....

misskipper Tue 02-Sep-14 10:37:54

As a FTM I can honestly say that I have weeks where I get really anxious about what's coming and weeks where I'm genuinely excited about it. However, this might be the only time I get to experience labour and I want to make it as positive as possible.

Yes it's probably going to hurt like hell, but my body was meant to do this and I have to trust nature and be patient, rather than rush the process along. The bit that scares me isn't the birth, it is the medical intervention. People coming at me with needles and scalpels and forceps or worse. A CS is my worst fear of the lot. I'm lucky enough to never have been to hospital...or even had a tooth out!! When I start to dwell on that side of it, that's when I start to get I try not to dwell on it for too long.

I guess that makes me the complete opposite to the people you're talking about, OP? But anxious (sometimes) all the same. My baby is in there and he/she has to come out one way or the other!! No going back now!!!!!

squizita Tue 02-Sep-14 10:43:16

Skipper Do mention your fears to your mw. You don't want the terror to come if you do need intervention. I am sure she can talk you through them and how common they are, and hopefully reassure you.
I used to be scared of needles grin this pregnancy I had to inject MYSELF 200+ times! It just goes to show with support we can often cope with more than we imagined.

misskipper Tue 02-Sep-14 10:47:47

Thanks squizita. Am seeing her this aft to do the birth plan thing so we will cover it there. I'm not a needle fainter or anything, thank goodness....I just don't like being 'interfered' with!! hmm

snappycow Tue 02-Sep-14 10:51:36

I was petrified. It's because of this:

1. the unknown
2. horror stories from other mothers / relatives etc
3. Ridiculous over the top Screams of agony from people on Soaps giving birth
4. The fact that something the size of a watermelon has to come out of a very small, sensitive area
5. Never having experienced any pain in my life prior so not knowing if I could do it at all?
6. Never being to hospital before

And yes - we want a baby, but the labour is the necessary evil.

If you're not scared ... that's odd. That said - I didn't DEMAND a C section. I went though it - and 3 days later was given an emergency C section which was pretty scary too.

Because of my experience I am now even more worried about my 2nd - but I want another baby. I completely, whole heartedly empathise and sympathise with all mums to be.

snappycow Tue 02-Sep-14 11:02:00

can i add - for anyone approaching childbirth - it really really will be ok. God - if a big cry baby scaredy cat can do it - you can. And I would do it again tomorrow and the next day to get my baby. It does hurt - but I had all the drugs and the epidural which meant bliss. It's natural to be scared - dont feel bad about it. But sometimes I think it was the best day (3 days) of my life.

showtunesgirl Tue 02-Sep-14 11:06:25

But it's not always ok though is it? It wasn't for me the first time round which is why I will be insisting on an ELCS next time.

I think the problem here is the lack of understanding that not everyone feels the same and not everyone has the same experience.

oversomeniagara Tue 02-Sep-14 11:11:45

Imagine the reverse were true and C-sections were the norm. Oh and you were terrified of surgery but the odds of you getting a natural birth without 'demanding' are really slim. I doubt you'd appreciate being told that your fears weren't valid and that you should pay to have a natural birth in private and be berated because you should have thought about it before getting pregnant.

snappycow Tue 02-Sep-14 11:15:35

no - i know it's not always ok - as I said, I had to have an emergency c section after 3 days of trouble - but i was trying to be supportive. as in - you will be ok.

Thurlow Tue 02-Sep-14 11:19:42

I think the problem here is the lack of understanding that not everyone feels the same

YY. I have been in many debates on here over my time about this.

The general assumption is that all women would prefer a natural, intervention free and potentially pain-relief free vaginal birth. And I do think that is the case for most women. But not all women. I would have loved an elcs for my first birth, if I had thought it possible on the NHS. I appreciate that the majority of women would like to achieve a vaginal birth - but I didn't want one. I really, really didn't. I'd do it if I had to (actually ended up with an emcs) but it wasn't anything I ever felt I wanted to experience or achieve.

I also wanted serious pain relief, despite knowing that would increase the potential for intervention. However when I got into a discussion about this on another, similar thread, another poster was horrified and said this (and this is a direct quote):

you mean people actually WANT to experience fetal distress and failure to progress (the main reasons for forceps and emcs births) more than they want an uncomplicated labour? Is what you're actually saying 'I'm ok about raising my chances of fetal distress and my baby getting stuck/labour stalling, if it means I have less pain'?

So I agreed. OP, you are coming from one perspective; other mums will come from other perspectives. Their fear of childbirth is just what they feel and it just plain isn't nice to think "tough, get over it."

showtunesgirl Tue 02-Sep-14 12:52:07

But again snappycow I had an EMCS and am not ok. Even no two experiences of EMCS are the same.

juneavrile Tue 02-Sep-14 16:37:00

I agree with those people who have pointed out that it's perfectly rational to be frightened about childbirth.

If you follow your line of thinking, the NHS would not help people lose weight (because calorie information IS available) or give up smoking (everyone knows it's addictive) and I suppose the burden on heart attack patients would be to show that they've not suffered as a result of 'lifestyle factors' including a high-pressure job. Where would you draw the line?

MrsRonBurgundy Tue 02-Sep-14 16:50:27

Just thought i'd add my own thoughts on this. I'm not pregnant yet. Have been married for nearly 3 years and am really really broody.
The only thing that is stopping me having a baby, is the thought of giving birth.

I'm not scared of the pain aspect. I know that an ELCS will be a different type of pain and a much longer recovery.

it's definitely 100% the lack of control that childbirth brings and it is genuinely delaying me having a baby. my mum recalls that since i've known about childbirth, i've always been weird about it. I know i can't cope with the build up, much more than the event.

I know that if i got pregnant, i'd spend the first 8 months having sleepless nights worrying about it and the last month probably openly panicking.

I've looked into the cost of private childbirth and i just will never ever be able to afford it. I've looked at the NICE guidelines regarding requsting an ELCS and it does seem to suggest that if counselling doesn't work, i could be eligible. My problem with this is, i don't want this stress whilst im pregnant. I don't want to get pregnant and then hope that i'm allowed an ELCS. what is the referral, counselling and decision process all takes 6 months of my pregnancy?

i've thought recently about speaking to my GP about it now. can i start the counselling process now, with a view to being 'signed off' as it were, for an ELCS before i get pregnant? but will they just think i'm being ridiculous.

it's a tough situation. I don't want to waste anyones time and take up precious GP appointments over something they might laugh me out of the door for. I think before you're prgenant, it's hard to know where to turn for advice.

R2d2pink Tue 02-Sep-14 17:00:47

The beauty of giving birth in this day and age is that women have choices and can make informed decisions. What's the point of having choices in childbirth if the only acceptable way of giving birth is the natural one and any other medically proven option is deemed as a bit of a cop out like the OP seems to imply, and therefore should be funded by the foolish couple who wanted a baby but didn't think about every single angle beforehand. I find this kind of suggestion just as arrogant and severely lacking in empathy as the whole bf v ff debate. If you extrapolate this point, then you should charge anyone suffering from any lifestyle diseases: cancers, alcoholism, obesity, etc
And yes I did go for vb but ended up with emcs, but I would never dream of judging anyone who tried something different. What I have noticed is that some women are so focused on having the perfect birth that they forget that it is a moment in time and that what really matters is a healthy baby & healthy mum. The hard graft comes afterwards.

squizita Tue 02-Sep-14 17:10:12

R2D2 sometimes it isn't even a lifestyle choice. My anxiety flared up as a result of extreme bad luck, medically. I've always been average weight, mobile, a non smoker. What if I had then accidentally got pregnant? Surely no one would say "terminate or pay up"!

ohthegoats Tue 02-Sep-14 18:03:32

*1. the unknown
2. horror stories from other mothers / relatives etc
3. Ridiculous over the top Screams of agony from people on Soaps giving birth
4. The fact that something the size of a watermelon has to come out of a very small, sensitive area
5. Never having experienced any pain in my life prior so not knowing if I could do it at all?
6. Never being to hospital before*

That's a good answer. Although it's the things that everyone is scared of about childbirth. If they were so all encompassing for me though, personally I wouldn't get pregnant without dealing with those fears somehow through counselling or whatever.

For those who immediately told me off about 'the NHS shouldn't treat the obese blah blah'... that's a whole other issue, and to a degree I have opinions about that too. At some point personal responsibility needs to become a feature of our lives.

Thurlow Tue 02-Sep-14 18:18:09

ohthegoats, people have been talking on here about how to deal with those fears. How do you suggest people magically do that?

Do you really stick by the fact that if someone can't get passed those fears, the fact that there is a medically safe way to deliver a baby - cs - should be ignored and they really shouldn't have children? And that's it? What about other fears relating to pregnancy or childbirth? Should someone who has a deep fear of vaginal exams not be supported through a pregnancy, because it will cost more? Should someone who is absolutely terrified of surgery not be supported to have life-saving surgery?

Of course "personal responsibility" should be a feature in our lives. But you seem to believe everything is as simple as thinking happy, positive thoughts and all the bad stuff like fear and addiction will just go away.

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