Fear of Childbirth
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Fear of Childbirth
We have a 1.5 year old and we are ready for another one. The
problem is that my first labor and delivery were extremeley
difficult and long (LONG story) and my recovery was very very
long, painful, and frustrating. According to the doctors,
physical therapists, doula, and other moms it seems that I had it
significantly worse than most (Im saying this so you know I am
not just a drama queen. I do realize that childbirth is painful
for everyone). I am still not fully healed (still have some
muscle damage and sex is still painful). My medical care was
good and I trust my OB. So, the problem is that I cannot bear
the thought of doing it again. How do I deal with this? Any
other moms gone through this? Are there any (reasonably-priced)
therapists who specialize in this? Is therapy even the way to go
here? I really really want to bear another child for many
reasons (we are planning on adopting for our third), but
honestly, the thought of delivering a child makes me want to cry.
-wishing the kid would be delivered by FedEx instead of me
The best way to deal with fear is to confront it and try to move on.
Therapy can be a great release to help this process along.
Fear of birth is a very normal thing - whether with your first or your
Several clients of mine have had great success with hypnotherapy for
this type of fear/concern. There are many techniques in hypnotherapy to
help release the fear and move forward.
Beyond traditional therapy traumatic birth experiences can often be
resolved with the help of a support network. Even though it was over 1
year ago a mom's group or new mom/baby group may be a great resource for
you to explore. Check your area for groups with women who have had
similar experience, or even those who have not but want to share their
positive birth experiences.
A first traumatic birth does not equal or sentence you to a second
similar experience. You can have a wonderful, healthful birth this next
time around. Good luck to you and your family in this ongoing journey.
Mom of 2 and birth professional
Would you consider having a C-section? After a nasty first delivery, I
had a wonderful C-section experience ( required because the baby was
breech) and healed beautifully, even tho'
it is surgery. Perhaps something to consider?
Good Luck with #2
Not knowing the details of your story, I can't really advise...but I can
tell you my experience.
First labor: 56 hours, no epidural, pitocin and cytotec (ouch), 4th
degree tearing. Long recovery, had pain for a long time!
Second labor: 3 hours, no tearing. Virtually no recovery time.
Obviously not everyone is so lucky, but it does seem that the second one
tends to be faster. And all births are different, so its hard to
predict one from another. I understand your fear, though Lucky the
I just read over some responses to the last post about fear over second
labor. I want to put in a plug for not scheduling a C section as a way
to deal with a difficult first labor. First labors are MUCH more
difficult than subsequent births.
I just gave birth to my second child 4 months ago. The first labor was
long, baby was mal-positioned, she finally came out with a vacuum assist
in the OR.
And I had some complications post-partum. It was traumatic, I was pretty
disappointed that I didn't do it naturally, and I feared the same would
happen with my second. But my second labor lasted all of 90 minutes. I
put down my toddler for a nap, labored and gave birth before she woke
up! (I was in the
hospital) That's not to say it was easy. In fact, the precipitousness of
it all caused problems for the baby, who was 2 lbs larger than number
one, by the way, but all was and is fine. What I want to say is that my
second birthing experience helped me heal psychologically from the
dissappointments of my first experience. I can't believe how many people
suggested that a scheduled C section is the answer to this dilemma. You
absolutely can have a smooth second labor. At the very least it will be
shorter. And shorter is always better.
Go into it with the courage you did with your first labor and the
knowledge that you came through it with a healthy baby and you will be
empowered by having a second baby Fear not!
I am going through the exact same issue, except my baby is only 5 months
old and we would like to conceive again in about a year. I have just
chosen to see a therapist and only gone to one session so far, so I
can't say how effective it is yet. I have a list of therapists in the
Berkeley area that do specialize in these topics. If you are
interested, feel free to email me to get the names of the therapists I
know. I feel for you because I've had a very similar experience and the
thought of going through it again really scares me. I'm even having
dreams about my fears. I wish you the best in your healing process.
definitely get yourself a doula. I had Judy Balinger for both my
children's births. And read Birthing from Within. its the only book I
know of that helps you deal with the anxiety and fear of giving birth.
Learning about the birth process is what most books do and that is fine
but it doesn't really help you feel more comfortable about the process.
Do as many of the exercises in the book as you can. I was lucky in that
my husband also did them with me at my request - so I wouldn't feel
dumb, I said - but it also helped me not feel alone in the process.
It's natural to feel anxious, especially if you've had a bad experience.
Unfortunately, I believe the medical community preys on the fears of
pregnant women to justify its place in normal healthy birth process and
often causes as many or more problems than it solves for us.
I'm lucky, as a nurse I know when I can tell them to go to hell and I
know what questions to ask and how to put all the information into
The trick is not to rise to the bait, to use your anxiety to help you
focus but not to let it take over. a good doula will help you ask the
right questions and make the right decisions for you. She will also help
you work through your fears and envision a different result for yourself
and your family. doula fan
I know exactly how you feel. I had a long, arduous labor with my
firstborn, and ultimately had to have a c-section or the baby never
would have been born (and I probably wouldn't have lived).
And because the labor was so long, the recovery was much longer than
normal. I was terribly frightened of the second labor, and there was
more at stake this time: I had a two-year old daughter at home. Rather
than going through the whole thing again, I scheduled a c-section. I
did not consult a therapist about this, but I did discuss it with my
obstetrician. I have never regretted my decision. My second daughter
was delivered safely, without the terror of the first labor, plus the
physical recovery was easier. This was such a relief I can hardly
There is no reason to suffer more than you already have. It is your
body, your family, and your choice. Good luck - I do sympathize brie
I was very afraid of my second labor and delivery - and couldn't sleep through my
2nd pregnancy due to the anxiety. I was afraid of a repeat of my first L&D -
which was long and painful.
Nancy Friedrich, a hypnotherapist, helped me work through my anxiety. Prior to
becoming a hypnotherapist, she practiced as a midwife for 20 years. She has the
experience and knowledge to help work through issues of L&D. She is also very
kind, reassuring, and caring!
She can be reached at NGbeginnew[at]aol.com
I am the mom to a wonderful nine month old daughter. On that front, things
couldnt be better. But we have always wanted a siibling for her, hopefully about two
years younger. After a VERY difficult labor with a lot of challenges, I cannot bear the
thought of doing it again. I was at Alta Bates and felt that the care was good. The
labor was over 50 hours long, and because of a uterine abnormality that i have, she
was positioned really badly and didnt want to come out for anything. She was also
posterior, had a huge head, and I tore really badly when she was born. My recovery
was very difficult - I had to use a wheelchair for a month, and sustained some pretty
good damage to my back and legs which is supposed to be healable but isnt all the
way better yet. I had an epidural, relunctantly, and that made a huge differemce in
the last couple hours but it was still very very difficult. According to my OBGYN, my
labor and delivery was unusually hard, my recovery unusually lengthy and my
injuries more sever than most - just so you know Im not making it out to be more
dramatic than it needs to be. My husband and I still havent had sex because though
Im not in pain, i still dont feel quite right and a bit sensetive.
I just cant bear the thought of doing it again. I know that there are many factors
that could be different the second time around - the length of the labor, the size of
her head, the fact that she was posterior. I also know that because of my uterine
abnormality, its possible that things are just as difficult.
By the way, I know that I coudl always have a c-section but I am aware at how over-
prescribed c-sections are and i dont want to have a c-sectiojn unnecessarily, just to
make myself more comfy. Birthing is hard, and im comfortable with that.
The advice Im looking for is this -
1. Are there others who experienced anxiety about giving birth a second time
because of a difficult first time and how did you deal with it?
2. Should I try to seek some therapy or something or am I making too much out of
this and 8 months postpartum, this anxiety is normal? Should i give it more time to
Thanks in advance.
If you definitely still want a 2nd child, why don't you just get a
C-section? Yes, C- sections are over-prescribed and some people like
Britney Spears request them for no good reason, but it sounds like you
have good reason! You should not have to have another vaginal delivery
that is going to put you in a wheelchair for weeks!
Have you talked to your doctor about whether it would be reasonable for
you to have a planned C-section? My guess is that it is.
I was in your shoes 10 years ago. I had a very hard time birthing my
first child. I finally found out that I had post- traumatic stress
syndrome and got myself to a therapist who works with post-partum
depression and post-traumatic stress.
Please don't give yourself a hard time about your feelings.
Your baby is only 9 months old. What you need is time and an
opportunity to talk about what happened to you, and talk about it a lot.
After working on my experience in therapy, I finally had an ''A-hah''
moment when I realized that I was willing to go through what I went
through and MORE if it meant having another baby. Then I knew I was
better. We now have 2 beautiful girls.
But it happens differently for different people. So give yourself time,
enjoy your first baby with lots of cuddle time, and get someone to talk
to like a therapist or a mom's group.
Sorry to hear of your ordeal with the birth of your first child.
I thought my first birth was rough! wow. You should definitely give
yourself the time to heal both mentally and physically before you decide
whether you really want to do it again. If you do want to have more
children here's what I did to overcome my fear of the birth of my second
After I got pregnant I spent a while talking with my midwife about what
went wrong with my first birth and what my fears were.
She strongly recommended I go to a woman named Carolyn Schaffer.
She is a therapist in Berkeley who specializes hypnosis and has a
particular speciality in hypnobirthing. I was a little wary -- and be
forewarned it is a very weird experience -- but I went for
3 or 4 sessions and WOW it was amazing! The first session my husband
came. The others were just for me. We spent a lot of time talking
about what I wanted, and what I didn't want in my birth. And then
through mild hypnosis she helped me delve and face my fears from my
first birth. After that she helped me craft a plan for childbirth. I
spent about a half an hour each day listening to my tapes and focusing
on deep relaxation. All was geared toward creating a positive outlook
on the experience.
The results were phenomenal! The birth of my second child (drug
free) was almost pain free and the tools she gave me really contributed
to my ability to work through the pain. My second was 3 lbs. bigger
than my first so it wasn't exactly an easy baby to get out.
But more than anything the birth was actually enjoyable. At one point I
turned to my husband and told him I was actually loving the process. I
NEVER would have imagined that. Additionally, the process allowed me to
connect with my second child while he was in utero that felt very
special. I highly recommend Carolyn.
Even if I decided not to have a second child (or chose cesarean over
vaginal birth) her process helped me put to rest my fears, the lingering
sense of trauma, guilt and sense of failure of my first birth. I highly
recommend Carolyn. Her number is 652-1498.
I think you should schedule a C-section for your second baby--your
uterine abnormality is sufficient justification, and it sounds like it
would be less stressful for you.
Mother of two (both C-sections)
I was an RN at Alta Bates, although not at that time....I have been a
L&D RN for years and a doula for over 20 years. I even wrote a book
about birth trauma! (unpublished) My advice to you would be, that if
your birth trauma was that real, that significant that it would cause
you this much pain and this much hesitation about whether or not to
actually have another child, I'd say that you need to sort our your
priorities. Number one:
how important to your view of you as a woman, human, etc. is having a
vaginal birth? Because the only argument I heard you make about
cesareans was that they are over used. Personally, if I needed a
hysterectomy, or painkillers, for a real reason, I wouldn't turn them
down just because they might, in other cases, be overused. A cesarian
is medicine for a condition just like any other medicine. I'd say,
months of pain, a hellish birth, and hesitancy to make love and have
another child are some of the best reasons to have a cesarian. I had
three kids at home and STILL say that!
You could hire a doula, or some sort of consultant to assist you with
this decision, and/or accompany you to the delievery to help with
decision making. You could set some limits in terms of how long and how
much pain you are willing to go without trying something else. A
vaginal delivery is not the point. There are many things to consider,
and as a mother of two young children, you aren't going to have the
energy to deal with them AND pain and a long recovery.
Best of luck.
I think you are being much too hard on yourself. As you clearly stated,
you had an extraordinarily difficult delivery, from which you are still
recovering. In my humble opinion, you should PLAN to have a c-section,
and you should find a doctor who supports you in this choice and will
help make your second experience of childbirth as painless as possible.
Your situation is not at all like the run-of-the-mill delivery, and it
is not helping you to apply the ''common wisdom'' to your specific
Wishing you all the best,
Just because C-sections may be ''overprescribed'' does not mean they are
not sometimes necessary. Neither of my children would be alive today if
it hadn't been for timely C-sections. And frankly, it is amazing to me
that you didn't have one the first time around. It might have spared you
a lot of agony and kept you out of that wheelchair. C-section recoveries
aren't much fun, but they are a whole lot easier than what you
Frankly, I don't see much point in giving birth if you aren't willing to
take advantage of medical technology to give not only the baby but
YOURSELF the best possible start on life together. What is the point of
being in a wheelchair for a month and having all the injuries you
described? How is that making your life better? How is it making you a
better person, wife, mother?
Unless you are willing to come to terms with some of this, you are
probably better off not having a second child.
Have a c-section. I did, and the recovery wasn't that bad.
Within a week, I was pretty darn mobile and going up and down stairs,
etc. A friend had a natural delivery and opted for a scheduled
c-section for the 2d b/c she couldn't bear the thought of going through
child birth again. She was happy with the decision. It sounds like
you've been through enough!
Oh, my. You poor thing! C-sections may very well be over- prescribed,
but it certainly sounds like it would be justified in your case. Not
that they're easy to recover from, either, but probably easier than what
you've already been through.
Your intense fear of a second birth is very understandable given the
significant trauma you sustained with your first, and it is definitely
possible to feel better and have greater confidence going into a second
birth. Because trauma gets held in the body and the nervous system,
therapy approaches which address these aspects tend to be particularly
effective and direct. Two approaches you might find particularly useful
are EMDR and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. I would be happy to help you
with referrals for therapists trained in either or both of these
approaches, or to meet with you myself (I am an MFT Intern with advanced
training in trauma (both EMDR and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy). I also
used to be a birth doula and specialize in birth-related issues. Rachel
Zamore, MA 510- 594-4090). In any case, it's great that you are
for support and please know that you can get some relief.
I had a pretty good first birth experience. I don't remember any pain (I
had no pain meds) and active labor only lasted about 7 hours. BUT, I
ended up with a birth injury that will never fully heal which caused me
a lot of grief and pain in the months following the birth (and continues
to do so 6 months later). I think women need to process their birth
experience- good or bad-especially one as intense as yours. After the
birth the focus shifts to the baby but in talking to women, I found that
many are haunted by their birth for months and never feel resolved. I
would go to therapy if I were you to talk about what was clearly a
traumatic experience. I think you are very brave to consider going
through another vaginal birth but--as someone who is militantly
pro-vaginal births and against the medicalization of labor, I think if
it seems like your second labor is going to be that intense, I would
have the c-section.
I will tell you that the women I know who had c-sections recovered
faster than I and are not suffering chronic ill- effects as I am. Good
I had *major* anxiety prior to delivering my first (and so far only)
baby. What worked for me was reading ''Birthing from Within,'' working
with a doula beforehand, and writing about my fears and my strategies
for coping should they come to pass.
This last strategy is taken from cognitive-behavioral therapy, which
I've done forr other fears, and it really works. I bet short-term CBT
would help you a lot (see archives for info).
Wow. Sounds like you have had a really traumatic experience.
Here's my advice: if you have the love for a second child, and the
capacity to carry the pregnancy, then don't make such a big deal out of
the birth itself -- it (can be) just a few short hours in your life --
with a c-section, and then it's over. I had three children, all by
c-section. I have a mis-shapen uterus and the first two children were
breech. The first was an emergency c-section 7 weeks early -- due to
bleeding from placenta previa. That was traumatic, but not the birth --
I was out cold and when I woke up, I had a beautiful, small, healthy
baby -- now a beautiful 11 year old. Baby #2 was breech and was a
scheduled c-section, that had a few blips but ultimately it was just a
weird hour in my life -- and now I have fabulous child # 2 who is 9
years old -- what a joy! Then, baby #3 was not breech, but with two
c-sections already, I chose not to take the extra risk to the baby of
attempting a vaginal delivery -- and voila -- beautiful baby #3 is out
in 1 hour and now she is 7 and another joy to behold!
Yes, c-sections have been over-prescribed, but let's not loose sight of
what a miracle they can be! Throughout history, and even across the
earth today, childbirth is the single most dangerous thing a woman will
do in her life. We have the gift, the privilege, of medical help and
intervention. Your situation sounds like it was the perfect occasion
for a c-section. Just because it wasn't warranted in another person's
delivery doesn't mean it wasn't -- or shouldn't -- be warranted in
yours. Talk to your OBGYN about a planned c-section before you get
pregnant, and focus on getting your health and relationship together so
you can move ahead with the second child you want.
Of course, I don't want to sound like c-sections are ''nothing.''
They do require careful recovery. My point is -- if it's the BIRTH that
is freaking you out, don't let that stop you. SKIP IT, and have a
c-section, GUILT FREE, instead.
3-Cs and full of gratitude
Have a c-section and get everything you want. Second child, no pain,
fear, trauma. Who cares if there are too many c-sections.
It's you that counts, not some statistic. My wife was having a
terrible labor with our second child- blood, pain, crisis.
Western medicine may be overused- but it sure has its place.
Fifteen minutes and a c-section later all was well. Who needs
additional stress (terror?) during pregnancy. Get a date for delivery
and have a guilt free addition to the family.
love my family (and the anesthesiologist)
So sorry to hear that your first labor was so difficult. Mine was half
as long but was pushing for about 4 hours before he could come out. I
had my 2nd baby 3 yrs later and the memories really don't fade. I had
many of the same fears that you do.
However, my body kind of knew what to do the 2nd time. I was more
relaxed and learned from my mistakes. Gave birth within 3 hrs of
arriving at the hospital. However, I know a few friends with similarly
difficult first labors as yours and they opted for a C-section. Given
your enduring injuries, I wouldn't feel guilty about it at all.
I highly recommend the book ''Birthing From Within'' for some insight on
processing your past birth trauma. I would be very nervous too!!!
My first birth was a bit difficult (baby got stuck) and we finally had
to decide between forceps and C-section. My second and third babies
were much easier (and faster). The most important factor for me was my
ob/gyn. When things got difficult my doctor, Jim Nishimine, was in
control. He said I was getting too tired and the baby had been in the
birth canal long enough.
I can't tell you how much I trust him. I would suggest having a doctor
who will make sure you and the baby are okay.
My first reaction to your posting was ''what do you think you have to
prove?'' Your first labor sounds horrific. Why are you beating
yourself up about requesting an epidural or c-section for your next
child? Get yourself well-educated about assisted birth options and
choose something that your are comfortable with medically (for you and
your child) AND will ease your very understandable fears. I tried to
tough it out my first child and felt like a failure for finally
assenting to a little morphine to help me work with rather than tensing
up with my contractions and yes I tore as well. After really thinking
about how so many well-meaning folks guilt trip women for using modern
medicine responsibly, I studied my options for my 2nd child and asked up
front for a non-narcotic drug to be administered early enough in my
labor so that my internal organs (not the baby's) would process the drug
and to help me stay focused. I also studied further assisted birth
choices and felt that I could intelligently make a decision if my least
choice wasn't enough to get through my labor. What a difference.
Mostly because I felt in control of my choices and my labor rather than
doing what I though was expected or politically correct. Because I let
myself be free to choose, it was actually easier to bear the pain and
choose NOT to do more than the non-narcotic. Labor is VERY personal,
deciding that you need help to get through it does not make you less of
a woman or mother.
I Understand your fear. I am pregnant of my second baby, and my first
baby is just 15 months. ( I had a pretty long labor, but no pain - I
used epidural at the beginning of my labor) But I just would like to let
you know that, I think, the negative feelings about having a c-section
is pretty much cultural. I am from Brazil and mostly of my friends with
kids had c-section. They had a easy recovery, peace in mind and
beautiful kids. Even considering that maybe it is too soon for you to
decide it,I think you should be more open mind about de c-section. If is
that what you need to have another child...why not?
It is not that bad at all! especially with it is not an emergency one.
Talk more about it with your doctor and good luck!
mom expecting #2
Hire a doula! My second birth was so much easier with an extra support
mom of 2
I have wanted to post a similar question, so I don't have any answers
for you since I am currently going through the exact same thing, but
wanted you to know you aren't alone. I still cry at random times while
replaying my labor and the fear and conflict I feel around deciding
whether or not to plan a VBAC or c-sect for my next birth this summer. I
pushed for over 5 hours unmedicated with rapid pitocin contractions - it
was scary like running on a treadmill with a noose around my neck while
exhausted - and just can't bear doing it again and ending up with
another c-sect. For a while I thought a VBAC with an epidural would be
my answer, but am finding that the epi may cause baby's heartbeat to
drop indicating false alarm that scar is rupturing. My babies will be
17 mos apart, so the memory is very fresh. I alternate between being
sure I need to talk with a therapist and feeling I am making too much of
it. But in listening to you it was clear to me that we aren't making too
much of it, we have reason to be anxious - a form of post traumatic
stress. I think emotional risk needs to be weighed into the vbac/c-sect
debate...it's a difficult choice isn't it with risk on both sides and
fear of both? I wish you the best and happy safe births to us both!
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