I have a very strange problem. I am terrified of the idea of pregnancy and childbirth. What makes it worse is that I adore children. I am the sort of person who will always babysit happily, who will peek into every baby buggy on the street, and play with kids endlessly.I know it will haunt me all my life if I decide not to have children. But the idea of carrying and birthing a child terrifies me as much as the idea of not having a baby of my own. Am I making sense?
But more than even pregnancy, the idea of a vaginal birth makes me want to die. I hate the idea of being in pain for an uncertain amount of time(labor can take anything between 2 to 72 hours).
I hate the idea of losing my dignity, being spread open with strangers coming in and checking me. I hate the idea of pooping while pushing the baby out. I hate the idea of being so vulnerable and out of control. And the thought of having a male doctor checking me is just disgusting. I start to sweat and shake when I think about forceps. So many things make pregnancy terrifying for me. I hate the idea of my body being taken over and having no control over it. I've always battled weight issues (I'm not obese, not even plump, but even if I starve myself I never look thin. Basically, I can never be seen in a bikini in public. I'm OK with that, but I don't like the idea of putting on all that weight, because for me, weight gain is so instant but it takes me ages to get rid of it).
I would somehow, never be able to step out of the house with a bulging belly. I know this sounds awful, but I find pregnant bodies ugly and revolting. (So sorry to be this offensive)
The idea of never going back to my current weight , which I work so hard to maintain is sickening. I have been overweight once , and I never want to go there again. Never.
I am petrified of the after-effects of childbirth. This is probably my biggest fear. I know so many women who have had incontinence, fistulas, lax vaginal muscles and vaginal prolapse after childbirth. I know its not that common, but we cant deny that it is a possibility. Just thinking about it makes me cry.
All people say is, how selfish and superficial I am, how I'll change my mind when I'm older, how stupid I'm being. But I can't seem to get over this. Every time I see a baby, I look at how big his/her head is, and wonder if I can ever push something like that out. I can't even look at pregnant women.
Perhaps a c section would make me feel a little better, but when I mention it people look at me like I'm crazy. Besides I've been told doctors will just laugh if you ask for one and not allow it. This makes me feel even worse.
I feel ill thinking about being pregnant and then being denied a c section.
Besides I have a condition that makes my periods very painful and uncomfortable(I faint sometimes), and it makes me think that labor will kill me.
What can I do? I know adoption is an option, but what if the person I'm married to wants biological children?
Oh my! Wherever did you get so much misinformation about childbirth?
Hang on a tic, OK? I'm going to one of our pregnancy forums and have one of the women there talk to you.
She'll be right with you.
I don't think these are misconceptions. These are facts actually- based on the experiences of women in my life, women I hear about from friends, women on TV, women in the news. These aren't misconceptions at all- these are facts.
Women do get incontinence, proplapse and lax vaginal muscles after childbirth sometimes.
Childbirth does involve exposure to complete strangers. It is a highly invasive and in my opinion humiliating process. Pregnancy does make you put on weight- and in my own family, three women never lost the weight, even though I have personally seen the effort they put into it. Things never went back to what they were.
These are not misconceptions- these are fears based on very real situations.
Let me tell you something. Pregnancy is scary. You gain weight, your body never fully recovers (your hips spread), you may have stitches from tearing *IF* you tear...labor is anywhere from EXCRUCIATING pain, to barely more than menstrual cramps, depending on ONLY you and how you deal with pain. You *MAY* get stretch marks...it may take you a long time to lose weight, BUT...
The second that baby comes out you FORGET IT ALL!!! (Whether it be via c-section which was how my first was delivered, or vaginal how I delivered my second.) You forget how scary it was, you forget the pain, you forget the stretch marks, the weight, the feeling disgusting, EVERYTHING! You see that baby and look in it's eyes and there's nothing but you and your baby. You won't care who's looking at what, male or female, you just won't care. All that will be on your mind is that tiny little being with ten toes and ten fingers and a need, one need...YOU! It's mommy.
EVERYONE has fears about pregnancy, I too had trouble with my weight. I gained 35-40 lbs with each pregnancy (gained a lot of water weight.) My son I had a c-section and yes it did take longer to lose weight, and I was unable to breast feed him. My daughter I delivered vaginally and lost 30 lbs in the first two weeks, she's now 6 months old and I've proudly been able to breast feed her since she was born. It is difficult, a lot does go through your head, but believe me when I tell you, every single moment of down is worth a million times over having that baby.
SO...you may change your mind, I know you've been told that, but I promise you, it's worth every second. AND you MUST MUST MUST keep in mind that all of your worries, facts as they may be, are NOT GUARANTEED to happen to you. My mother didn't get a single stretch mark, but I got them. My mother had NO issues breast feeding any of the three kids she had, but I couldn't even breast feed my son. Some people are born deaf, blind, disfigured...others are perfectly fine, even if there was some thing in there genetics that could have lead to it...point being, just because it COULD happen, doesn't mean it WILL. I personally think you should look at it, or at least try to look at the positives. I understand your feelings completely. You just have to look for the positives too...
You can PM me anytime if you want to talk, or have questions/concerns.
I agree with all of what smjmekg said.
I was always terrified of pregnancy because of weight gain. I had an eating disorder as a teenager and in my early 20's and was terrified that it would make me go back to that. I gained about 40lbs and lost 30 within the first week. You loose most of it right away. As for stretch marks, they aren't so bad and they are worth it. They are so common and so many women get them that it shouldn't been frowned upon or ashamed of. They are the battle scars of pregnancy.
As for the pain. You are in control of your body and if you prepare and get to know your body, you can handle it soooo much better. I had a natural birth. Not one drug was used! And I gave birth to a 9lb 3oz baby that didn't have a conehead!! It was the most liberating and amazing thing I can say I've ever done. And trust me girl, I am not one for pain tolerance. I did tear and I won't tell you how many stitches I have, but I healed and am right back to how I was before. Your body makes room for that baby to get out of there and if it terrifies you so much, you can always speak to a doctor before even thinking about kids and see whether or not an elective c-section is possible for you.
You aren't being selfish, pregnancy and childbirth can be terrifying but you educate yourself. You sound like you want to be a mommy and deserve to be a mommy, try not to let your fears and anxieties get in the way of that. The most amazing gift you can give is the gift of life.
Thanks for your reply:)
I understand what you are saying, but as you yourself admitted, things never go back to what they were, and I am just not willing to risk that. If the thought of pregnancy makes me want to throw up, the experience will make me a wreck. Besides, I believe that bonding with the baby and my relationship with myself are two different things. I find it hard to look at pregnancy and childbirth as a means to an end- I simply NEVER want to do it. But I really do want kids.
Immature isn't it? I know I will adore that baby when I have it, but just in case I'm one of those people who do end up with the incontinence and prolapse and obesity, I don't think its something one can ignore, simply because of motherhood. I also know I will regret not having children, so I will have to do it someday, but the idea gives me nightmares. If I end up with any kind of long term damage to my already damaged and imperfect body, I will be inconsolable. I don't want to have a baby inside me. I don't want to have to push one out either. The thought makes me sick.
I don't think there is any solution to my problem, because most people just dismiss it.
The idea of having to give up control of my body for pregnancy and childbirth is horrifying to me.
Thanks so much:) Your post made me smile. I think I will have to speak to a doctor about a c section. Hope they'll allow it. But I suppose there is a price I'll have to pay if i want children.
Its just very difficult for me to accept it.
Well your solution is simple. Adopt. When you do find someone to have kids with, express your feelings towards pregnancy and childbirth. Tell them you've always wanted kids but just can't bring yourself to do it through you. You could always try surrogacy too, if you could stand having your eggs removed. (Not sure on the whole process, so I'd look it up if you MAY be interested.) BUT no matter where your baby comes from, it's your baby. There are SOOO many kids out there wanting nothing more than a home and mom and dad of their own to wake up to. I'm sure one day you'll be an amazing mother! Just keep your head up and don't let anyone's words discourage you. I was in no way trying to convince you to try to get pregnant, but just wanted to let you know that there IS still a possibility that one day you'll like the idea. Never say never. I hate that phrase, but find it true sometimes. Remember it's your body, and your choice, and like I said there's plenty of babies out there that need good homes too! Good luck to you in whatever you choose! Being a mom isn't defined by the way the baby came to be yours. :)
I'd like to speak to you from experience. I've had six babies.
Women always forget all of their anxieties and all of their "superficial" fears they have once they have their babies. Now it's not so easy GETTING to that point. I don't believe you are being selfish or superficial. I believe you have honest to goodness anxiety about these things. Have you thought about speaking with a counselor about these issues?
One other thing is that a certified midwife and a doula are SUPERB at helping you through your pregnancy. I have never been fortunate enough to have one during any of my pregnancies but I have heard so many wonderful stories about them.
I agree with the above posters about educating yourself about everything, knowledge is a great first defense against fear and anxiety.
I would also like to invite you over to the pregnancy 18-34 community. We have many wonderful women over there who have tons of experience in this area and wuold be more than happy to answer any and all questions you have about pregnancy and childbirth. There have been numerous women who have had similar fears as you.
I'm a member of another pregnancy forum and there is a lady in her 2nd Trimester who suffers from this. It hasn't been easy for her but she and her husband desperately wanted a baby. She makes sure to see her therapist frequently to discuss her issues and she was very open and honest with her OB and already has her c-section scheduled. Talking to someone about your fears will help immensely. I wish you luck!
I agree with mami2karina, you can talk to a therapist and it will help you keep from catastrophizing in advance. Look at photos of famous women who have had babies, from Heidi Klum (who I think has had four with her husband Seal, and still models for Victoria's Secret!) to a whole raft of famous actresses, who are photographed in bikinis in amazingly short times, to know that childbearing it is not an inevitable march to Frump City.
If, after working hard and genuinely (not holding back) with a therapist, you still can't get over it, the therapist will still be your best guide regarding your options. If it is a real psychological issue for you, it's as genuine as if it is a real physical issue. If we have an issue, we seek medical help, that's what doctors are for. If it can't be solved, there is adoption, and in-vitro with your eggs and your husband's sperm, into the uterus of a gestational carrier ("surrogate mother") who can carry the baby, and there is also your husband's sperm, donor eggs and you two take the baby when it is born. There are so many ways to get kids in your life. You may even wind up with a husband who already has kids, and then you get to be the world's best stepmom. (A rare breed, a good stepmom who genuinely loves her stepchildren.)
Try not to worry, but do check into therapy to see where this phobia comes from. A lot of times once the source is identified, the panic subsides.
(In fact, a good stepmom who genuinely loves her stepchildren is a much rarer bird than a woman who has birthed a baby. This might be the special gift you are meant to bring into the world, you never know.)
I had never thought about the stepmom thing-that sounds awesome!
Surrogacy is actually illegal in most places- the contracts cannot be enforced in court even in countries where it is legal. In the UK, I don't think you can even get a surrogate until you can prove that you are infertile. (I checked extensively because this option really appealed to me).
As for therapy, I have tried it briefly, but it didn't help much. I'm going to give it another shot though- hopefully it will help.
Actually, I agree with you on the point that even women who have given birth can look awesome- my own mother is an example of that. I take after my aunt and grandma though-all we have to do is breathe to put on weight.:(
I must thank all of you for your supportive advice- I really appreciate it.
It all depends on how desperate you are to have a baby with your own eggs. It's possible to go overseas for a surrogate. Though it's legal in the U.S., a lot of people I know here have gone to India because the cost is a lot less.
In your shoes, I'd try really hard (not just dabbling) to find out where all the revulsion is coming from about pregnancy, with a good therapist (preferably female, but definitely don't keep going to one who makes you feel scolded). And I would not obsess too hard on the what-ifs. (What if I marry a guy who wants children? is making a lot of assumptions at once, and while it's not an unnatural thing to think, lots of guys really don't want kids, and lots of other guys have kids already and are just praying to meet a nice girl who doesn't want any more.)
Thanks so much Annie. What you are saying makes a lot of sense.
Since I adore children, I'm going to try my best to get over this phobia- but just in case I can't , it is good to know its not the end of the world.
I did speak to a therapist, and my mom about this problem several times. The hard part is being taken seriously-most people assume that every girl is scared of childbirth, so they just dismiss it. But my issues are a lot deeper than that.
Oh, they sound serious all right. I'd try to find a therapist who is willing to dig with you to identify the source. I used to be morbidly frightened of bees, and one time I read a long, long article on honeybees and their habits, and suddenly I stopped being panicked around bees. So sometimes knowledge and understanding can reduce a phobia almost overnight.
Omg omg thank u for voicing my exact fears and disgusts!! I hav the same exact worries abt vaginal birth and the weight thing and the indignified manner in which everything happens!! I've been trying to convince my boyfriend about gestational surrogacy because that way the child would still be ours biologically but he's not happy abt the idea claiming that he wants me to b the one to have his kids for the fear that the won't love them the same if they came through someone else. I'm kinda scared of that too but I'm too frightened repulsed and dignified to go through with the pregnancy and birth and afterbirth!!
I have the exact fear! I never understood the going to the therapist thing, because I really think the fear is legitamate. Unlike many other phobias, childbirth actually DOES carry a lot of risk. I am afraid of guns, and I feel that fear is justified as well for the same reasons... regardless, I was wondering. In the USA, can I request a c-section for the first pregnancy for no reason other than my phobia?
I'm in the same boat. However, the idea of getting pregnant and having kids feels like a prison or death sentence to me. I fear a lot of things from my body changing, it wiggling around inside me (kicking), labour pains, blood, being ripped in two, the constant screaming and never being left alone for a second, and breast feeding.
I don't even like kids and never got on with them. I want a quiet life and knowing that will all change once I have kids.
I do get frustrated because no one understands and I fear I'll forever be alone. I'm tokophobic. A relationship will inevitably end if you and your partner want different things, especially having a family or not one day. I recently dated the guy of my dreams, who was very vocal about wanting to be a father one day and loves his nephews. He is very broody. At the back of my head I knew this relationship would never last. He even asked how I felt about kids to which I replied with "I'm ambivalent"... I really wish I was normal and like everyone else, not some freak. People are so judgemental and say the usual thing that I will change my mind one day or once I give birth I'll soon "forget" my fears but no one takes tokophobia seriously. It's a real phobia. I can't even watch movies with birth scenes without feeling like I'm going to vomit and have panic attacks. I feel faint when I hear my friends talk about their experiences. I wonder if I'll ever be normal or actually meet a guy who doesn't want kids either, but that is very hard to find.. They don't have to do all the leg work!!
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