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Calming Your Labor and Delivery Fears

Experts provide the calming and reassuring advice you need for a successful labor and delivery.

Labor and Delivery: Fear of a C-Section

With all the recent headlines touting mother-elected Cesarean births, you might get the idea that this is the delivery method of choice. But doctors say most women still fear the procedure -- and will do everything they can to avoid it.

"Most women are concerned about the after-pain, about the length of time necessary for recovery, about the dangers of being cut open," says Wendy Wilcox, MD, an obstetrician at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

If your doctor does suggest a C-section during labor and delivery, experts say be sure to ask why he or she thinks it's necessary and if there is any way to avoid it. But if there's not, then Riley says this is the time to "go with the flow" and "trust the person on the other end of the table."

"The risk of having a C-section isn't zero, but it is exceedingly low. If it's what your doctor says is necessary for a healthy birth, I wouldn't worry about it. ... You're more likely to have problems if you try to deliver vaginally when circumstances dictate that you should not," says Riley.

Common reasons for an unplanned C-section include a very large baby (in proportion to your size), your baby assumes an abnormal position during labor, or your cervix is not dilating enough.

Labor and Delivery: Fear of Not Getting to the Hospital on Time

We've all heard the stories of a baby arriving in the back seat of a taxi -- or in the produce section of the grocery store. But the reality is that for most women, particularly first-time mothers, labor rarely progresses quickly enough for this to happen.

"The truth is labor will probably be a lot longer than you anticipate. And the chance that your baby will come before you get to the hospital is highly unlikely, even if you live some distance away," says Wilcox. To add an extra layer of protection, she says, talk to your doctor about the true signs of labor, so you know when it's time to head out the door.

If this is not your first baby, however, then labor may be shorter. But doctors say if you pay attention to your body cues, it should still leave you with plenty of time to get to the hospital.

"Essentially you want to time your labor pains -- and as soon as the contractions become regular, then you know that you are definitely in labor, and should at least phone your doctor if not head for the hospital," says Wilcox.

To further calm those "get me there on time" fears, make sure you pack your labor bag at least two weeks before your due date -- and have a definite plan in mind for how you will get to the hospital during both the day and nighttime hours. If this is your second or third child, experts suggest having someone you can call to care for your other children when you leave for the hospital.

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