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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.
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Labor and Delivery: Fear of an Epidural

While it may be comforting to know an epidural is available, it can also be a source of anxiety for many women.  Fear of the procedure, as well side effects including numbness, can cause some women to avoid pain medication completely. But doctors say there is little to fear. According to Blumberg, "the complication rate is exceedingly small, especially long-term complications." Short-term problems -- like a spinal headache -- are more common she says, but "still rare, affecting only about one in 200 patients, plus they can be easily treated," says Blumberg.

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.

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