My first labor was difficult and now I'm afraid of going through that again. What should I do?

Identifying what factors made your earlier labor so hard may help you avoid those problems this time. Here are some ideas:

  • If you feel that you didn't have supportive care from your care providers, you may wish to choose a different care provider, birth setting, or both. The Choosing a Care Provider and Choosing a Place of Birth pages can help.
  • If you feel that you didn't get the support you needed from your spouse/partner or other people in the room, consider hiring a doula (trained labor support companion) or invite a friend or relative to assist you and your partner. The Labor Support section has more information about doulas and resources for finding one.
  • If you were frustrated by long, non-productive hours in labor or pushing, you can:
    • Get peace of mind knowing that your next labor may proceed very differently; the first is usually the longest.
    • Learn what can interfere with labor progress and how to help labor progress more smoothly; a doula can really help here.
    • Decide ahead of time on reasonable limits for the cervix to dilate fully and then for you to push the baby out. Knowing you have an end point can help you feel less anxious and more in control. If you reach this point, you can choose whether to go beyond it. Keep in mind that women with prior C-sections tend to labor more like first-time mothers than women who have given birth vaginally.
    • Be patient. How long labor lasts is different for each birth and each woman. With good support, encouragement and the full range of comfort and pain relief options, you can cope with longer labor.
  • If you had a lot of pain, become informed about epidurals, which tend to offer effective pain relief, and consider planning to have one. A doula can also help with comfort measures and helping you stay calm and relaxed in labor.