Help! My friend is afraid of giving birth! - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-02-2007, 08:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello!

My friend is literally petrified of giving birth. She is about 5 months pg and is excited about the pregnancy, having a child etc but she cannot wrap her mind around birth.

Her mother had very positive drug-free birth experiences some of which my friend clearly remembers. (she was 20 when her youngest sibling was born)

She is literally crying daily etc over the thought of how much pain she will be in, the burning ring of fire comments etc etc. She plans to have an epidural and as much pain medication as possible. It is a very medicalized birth plan and she has some confidence in the medical system.

I am not trying to talk her out of pain medication etc. At this point I am trying to help her deal with her fear and get past it enough not to freak out and end up with a c-section. (which she does not want) Her reaction to pain is not good. (I have been friends with her for about 17 years and I can attest to that fact! ) She is worried that she will just freak out, be unable to deal and be wheeled into the operating room.

I am also pg and frankly not feeling the same way but I have had a child before and I am just a different person. I had a VERY painful birth with dd but I managed and I dealt with the situation in the best way I could. I do not talk in detail about the pain, I talk about why I had a hard time, things I plan to do differently etc but I am not about to give her gory stories of birth. At the same time it seems crazy to say "Hey it's fine, it's not that bad." I mean what if it is that bad? She is one of my best friends, she doesn't want me to lie to her.


She lives in FL, I live in MN and we will only see each other 2 more times until the baby is born. (after that I likely can't fly because I am also pg)

Any idea? Does anyone have any good books or resources I can give her that don't make birth sound like such a horrifying experience? She has been reading tons of mainstream stuff and I think it is making her worse. I have suggested that she read Birthing from Within and check into some other more naturally orientated methods for some more calm descriptions of birth etc.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I am worried about her!
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Old 02-02-2007, 08:46 PM
 
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I discovered with both of my pregnancies there is a mental process to getting ready for childbirth. If you asked me a few weeks ago (I am currently 36 weeks with number 2) about giving birth I would have said "this baby is coming out of me but I cannot imagine how". Now that I am closer my mind and body are getting in sync. I firmly believe in letting the mind go where it needs to go in order to prepare a woman for this amazing experience. I wonder if closer to your friend's birth if she will have experienced a shift in her perspective.

Birthing from Within is a very good suggestion. I also liked "Active Birth" (cannot remember the authot) and "The Thinking Woman's Guide" by Henci Goer. Michel Odent is another good author for natural childbirth.
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Old 02-02-2007, 08:50 PM
 
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I think that you should definitely offer her as much information as she would like, but in the end you have to respect her birth choices just as we more natural folks would like people to respect ours.
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Old 02-02-2007, 08:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just to clarify: I am very supportive of her desire for pain medication etc. I do not try to talk her out of anything! I want her to have a good medicalized birth. (I know some people don't think that's possible but I do)

Seriously, there is no judging at all. I just want her to FEEL ok and to try to help her be less afraid. She has asked for help ideas etc.

She is planning on having several children and it's a process. For her step one is to deal with the fear. For other people it's different. For me it's different, that's all.

She is very respectful of my decisions and that is partly why she is asking me for ideas.
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Old 02-02-2007, 08:56 PM
 
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Tell her to try a HypnoBirthing class.

http://www.hypnobirthing.com/

It really helped me calm down regarding my fears (7 years ago) with my first time pg. Towards the end, I was LOOKING FORWARD to give birth!

I succeeded in having a painFREE 18+ hour hospital labor. I even felt endorphins in the shower.

I love giving birth. I know how to deeply relax my body so it doesn't hurt. The deeper you relax, the less it hurts. The class is all about showing you how to deeeeeeeeeeply relax, instead of tensing up.

PS I'm with you on being respectful of her choices for a medicalized birth. I think it is possible to have positive hospital experiences. I still recommend the class for her. She needs to chill!

10 - boy
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Old 02-02-2007, 09:00 PM
 
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The book Birthing From Within has some good exercises for working through fear, but you'd have to xerox them out of the book (because the overall tone of the book is anti-medicalization of birth).

Good stuff, though, like creative projects, etc.
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Old 02-02-2007, 10:28 PM
 
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Advise her (or help her )to find a counselor who specializes in trauma counseling (If there is one locally who specializes in birth trauma, so much the better). By facing her fears and trying to change the angle from which she approaches them, they may diminish their power over her.

She must get past the fear of pain & fear of labor, or chances are high she will inhibit her body from ever going into labor, generating the "overdue-induction-pit-epi-failure to progress/fetal distress-c-section" scenario, thus reinforcing all of her fears, and guaranteeing several unnecessary surgeries in her future.

My heart goes out to her. There is so much fear and drama about birth perpetuated by our culture, it is really sad.

Sweetpea
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Old 02-02-2007, 11:55 PM
 
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I'd recommend to her hiring a doula. Just because she knows she wants pain meds doesn't mean she can't have a doula.

And hopefully she understands: epidurals MIGHT take away pain, but they won't take away fear or distress.

Jennifer
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Old 02-03-2007, 01:45 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InstinctiveMama View Post
I discovered with both of my pregnancies there is a mental process to getting ready for childbirth. If you asked me a few weeks ago (I am currently 36 weeks with number 2) about giving birth I would have said "this baby is coming out of me but I cannot imagine how". Now that I am closer my mind and body are getting in sync. I firmly believe in letting the mind go where it needs to go in order to prepare a woman for this amazing experience. I wonder if closer to your friend's birth if she will have experienced a shift in her perspective.

Birthing from Within is a very good suggestion. I also liked "Active Birth" (cannot remember the authot) and "The Thinking Woman's Guide" by Henci Goer. Michel Odent is another good author for natural childbirth.
Is it Janet Balaskas or something like that...: I want that book!

And I second the rec. for The Thinking Woman's Guide...

Mama to my spirited J, and L, my homebirth: baby especially DTaP, MMR (family vax injuries)
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Old 02-03-2007, 03:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the responses!

I am actually going to tell/help her with all of them! I have a book order ready to be shipped to her and am looking up the other resources mentioned.

It is just so hard. She has been crying on the phone for the last hour. (I just got off the phone)

I think it is also hard because her mom had medication-free and mostly intervention free births and is really pressuring her to try it without any medication, giving her tons of literature about how she is harming her baby, etc. etc. Unfortunately I don't think this is helping the situation.

I know she is doing the best she can. I really trust that.

If anyone has any other ideas please let me know.
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Old 02-03-2007, 03:21 AM
 
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Originally Posted by lula View Post
I think it is also hard because her mom had medication-free and mostly intervention free births and is really pressuring her to try it without any medication, giving her tons of literature about how she is harming her baby, etc. etc. Unfortunately I don't think this is helping the situation.
Yikes! Can you tell her mother that? What a shame.

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Old 02-04-2007, 12:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jengacnm View Post
I'd recommend to her hiring a doula. Just because she knows she wants pain meds doesn't mean she can't have a doula.
Yes, this. I think it is important because no matter how much she may want drugs, I am living proof that you don't always get what you want. I wish I had prepared myself more for that possiblity. More emotional support for myself and my husband would have been much appreciated. Next time...
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Old 02-04-2007, 07:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sweeetpea View Post
She must get past the fear of pain & fear of labor, or chances are high she will inhibit her body from ever going into labor, generating the "overdue-induction-pit-epi-failure to progress/fetal distress-c-section" scenario, thus reinforcing all of her fears, and guaranteeing several unnecessary surgeries in her future.

My heart goes out to her. There is so much fear and drama about birth perpetuated by our culture, it is really sad.

Sweetpea
I agree, I was just like her with my first and my own fear surely played a part in derailing my labor.

Now I'm doing the work I wish I'd done sixteen years ago.

Here's a site you might want to email to her, if you think it would help her. It helped me a lot to see a calm, peaceful birth up close and in detail.
http://www.shaunamama.citymaker.com/...irthstory.html

One thing I know for sure, if she doesn't choose to consider coping methods before she goes into labor, or thinks her coping method will consist solely of drugs, she is essentially going into the situation without any coping method at all. Drugs don't always work the way you think they are going to, or at all in some cases.

I'm not expecting anything less painful than the labor that had me terrified for eleven years, but I am infinitely more prepared. I'm assembling support in every corner, and doing Hypnobabies. She really needs to get her support and coping methods in place, I'd hate to see her end up like me, pregnant for the third time, with 2 prior c/s and not a single OB anywhere around who will do anything but cut me again. (Thank god for midwives!)
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Old 02-04-2007, 07:42 PM
 
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Wow, this is a very interesting topic. I have lots of thoughts, but I don't have time to post now. I'm subbing so I can come back later and type a bunch.

Mama to H (6) B (3) : A (1)
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Old 02-04-2007, 08:32 PM
 
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She definitely needs to relax. Fear and tension make pain feel 100x worse than it really is. A doula would be a great idea, to have someone hold her hand throughout the process and help her relax. Also perhaps not obsessing so much on how she is going to give birth would help her not worry so much?

Equuskia in with Nodtveidt DD1 : DD2 :
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Old 02-05-2007, 12:41 AM
 
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I would second any self-hypnosis for childbirth program. I'm doing hypnobabies and there's quite a large section about fear release. I have SO much anxiety about my vbac and my past birth that there is no way that I would ever be able to calm my nerves without the hypnosis (unless I got some sort of professional therapy or tranquilizers! ). Whenever I start feeling extremely anxious (like think panic-attack-anxious) I practise my hypnosis and I'm immediately calm and relaxed and positive about my birth. Amazing!

A doula would be an excellent help to her to, regardless of her birth preferences.
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Old 02-05-2007, 01:04 AM
 
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I think I would go ahead and give her some books like "Birthing from Within." I'd also make a point of saying something like, "these books are all about natural birth, but that doesn't mean I think you should have a natural birth. They have techniques for dealing with the pain, and you can use those in addition to drugs."
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Old 02-05-2007, 01:24 PM
 
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I read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth to help calm my fears. She has a bunch of cool success stories on the first part of the book. It is a natural birth book, so you may want to do what Pookel suggested and make sure that she doesn't interpret the book as pressure to have a natural childbirth.

My favorite story is about the woman who gave birth to a 10 lb 8 oz baby girl without any tears. I've been reading it over and over again because it's so amazing (and comforting) to hear that my body is going to get THAT big!
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