I'm Afraid of Labor: Why the Third Time is the Scariest

I'm Afraid of Labor: Why the Third Time is the Scariest

I am afraid of labor. This is a little bit tough to open up about because you want to be so confident going into something like this, and you don’t want your family and friends to worry about your well-being. I'm just feeling very nervous and anxious still, and I want to acknowledge my feelings and share my truth.

I was afraid the second time around as well. What's interesting is that I wasn't afraid the first time, and I think that’s because I really didn't know what to expect. Even though I read about labor and heard about labor, until I was in it myself I didn't know what it would be like and how many factors are at play. 


My birth story with Ryan ended up being a tough labor from start to finish. It took about 24 hours with three hours of just pushing. I vomited during labor before I had my epidural. My labor slowed down right after that, and there were talks of taking me in for an emergency c-section throughout the labor, so I felt nervous the whole time. My goal was to deliver vaginally, so the mention of a c-section just terrified me. I'm not saying that I'm against c-sections in any way. I think getting the baby out safe and healthy is the most important thing, but I was terrified of the surgery aspect of it.


Because of all the pushing, I got a slight fever. And because of that, once Ryan was born he was taken away from me right away to the NICU, which was really hard on me. My goal was to breastfeed and put him on the breast right away, so it really deterred that, too. Ryan had to get antibiotics because of my fever, as there was a chance of infection which could have been passed from me to him. Ultimately my doctor said that I didn't have an infection, so Ryan ended up getting the antibiotics for no reason at all, which hurt me even more. It’s safe to say I did not have the best labor experience, and I only got to hold him for like a second before he was taken away. Those memories stuck with me, so when I went into labor with Leo, I was already afraid. I was like, “Oh, God, please just let him come out okay and not go into the NICU, please.” I didn't think about any other complications or changes that could happen.


With Leo it was a 24 hour labor from start to finish with three hours of pushing—just like Ryan’s to the T plus one big curveball. Leo ended up being a back labor. I didn’t research back labors at all, but I'm kind of happy that I didn't know anything about it going in because they’re not fun. I learned after that with back labor there’s a big possibility that the epidural won’t do its job and you feel everything. So I had my epidural, but I felt everything!


His head was pushing on my tailbone throughout the entire labor. I was in excruciating amounts of pain and I had no idea why and I just kept worrying about the baby because I thought, “My gosh, what’s going on? Why do I feel this pain if I have the epidural?” The doctors and staff told me I was in back labor, but they decided not to tell me that the epidural might not be working, because they didn't want to discourage me. My team knew that my goal was to deliver vaginally again, and they didn't want to discourage me and tell me that I would feel all of these pains throughout labor. Pushing was super hard with Leo because again, it was excruciating amounts of pain and his head was stuck in the wrong direction. He had to be turned as he was pulled out.


So now, as I prepare to go into labor number three, I’m terrified. This is me just being completely honest and open. I pray to God that everything will go okay; that the baby will come out healthy, happy, and I'll get to hold him in my arms, and I’m crossing my fingers that hopefully I won't have a back labor experience again.

This is what I’m feeling at 31 weeks. I hope my nerves relax a bit. I just want everything to go smoothly. Before the second one everyone kept telling me, “Okay, well, you had a 24 hour labor the first time but the second one will come out faster. It's always faster the second time around…” Nope. 24 and 24. I actually spoke to a doula recently who told me chances are, I will probably labor the same amount of time. So I'm going into it expecting that it'll be a long labor again.

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I'm just hoping that I can push through longer before the epidural. I've learned both times that it really slowed down my labor when I got it. So I'm going to try to last as long as I can, which I did on the other two as well; I just took the epidural when I couldn't stand the pain anymore. Another thing is both times I went into the hospital my water did not break on its own. I went into the hospital with extreme contractions and they admitted me both times but then had to break my water. I was three centimeters dilated when they admitted me, so I’m thinking maybe I should try to hold out at home a little bit longer if I can this time. But that also scares me because I don't want to mess with what’s happening with my body. I’m worried if I stay home a little bit longer, things could progress way too fast and I could have my baby in the car on the way to the hospital or something.

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Mamas, I’d love to hear your birth stories! Did anything about my previous labors resonate with you? Any tips or advice as I get ready for labor a third time?

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