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Nancy SullivanOvercoming Labor Fears
by Nancy Sullivan, CNM, MS, FACNM

Q. Do you have any tips or advice on ways to make labor easier or at least not so scary? I recently watched a birth on TV, and it looked so hard and scary.

A. It is certainly natural to be "scared" about labor, no matter how well you have prepared yourself. It is a Big Unknown, and you have heard so many horror stories and seen so many bad births on TV. I would suggest that you talk to some of your friends who have had positive births. I can never understand why women who had terrible experiences feel compelled to talk about them to their pregnant friends, but women who have had good experiences are less forthcoming. Believe me, they are out there!

Make sure you have lots of positive support at your birth; relatives or friends who have had good birth experiences and will be helpful, or a doula who will be there just for you. Don't invite people who might sabotage your experience with their doubts and negativity.

Remember that birth is a normal, physiological (and psychological) event, not a pathological condition. Resolve to spend as much of your labor as you can on your feet, continuing your normal activities, talking to friends, listening to music, getting a massage, or taking a bath or shower. The worst thing you can do is lie like a lump on a bed, focusing on the pain of the labor contractions. Research has shown that being upright, moving around, and having support in labor all make it go faster and reduce the risk of complications.

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