Rebecca Kamm

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Rebecca Kamm: I am terrified of childbirth

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Here's something that could cause me some stress in the future: I want to have children one day, but I am beyond terrified by the idea of childbirth. Someone once described it to me as "pushing a watermelon through a pinhead". Then someone else told me really surprising things about tearing, bowel movements, getting 'the shakes', and the 'ring of fire'.

(I can't remember what that last one even is. My brain kicked into self-protection mode and made me forget.)

I've pondered the above information with varying levels of horror over the years. I've also pondered the rumour there's an unspoken pact amongst mothers not to fully reveal the scary details of giving birth. Which makes me worry even more, because that would mean it must be pretty bad.

My mother employs this tactic, actually. When I've mentioned how scared I am at the prospect of a PERSON EMERGING FROM MY PERSON, she says - all casual - 'It's not so terrible! It's just like period pain!'

Mum: I have my suspicions this is not true. I know that kind of monthly pain, and it doesn't make me squeeze my boyfriend's hand so hard he squeaks - or yell at the top of my lungs for a numb lower body (although that would be nice sometimes).

Or curse the moon for 'doing this to me'.

I'm pretty sure I know how the fear started. Some years ago I was innocently watching TV - flicking calmly through the channels - when suddenly there it was: a very closeup scene of a real birth. I froze, utterly compelled by this foreign sight, and began to watch. But then my head went all woozy and cold waves crept over me and I nearly fainted.

It looked 100 times worse than I had ever in my wildest dreams imagined - and I have some pretty wild dreams, like a reoccurring one where instead of a baby popping out it's a highly articulate kitten with a serious attitude problem.

Apparently, one in four women experience high levels of childbirth fear - and birthing professionals say the anxiety surrounding childbirth is more pronounced than ever before. In response to this there's a new website in the UK that pairs nervy expectant-mothers with chilled already-mothers, so the former can hear "positive birth stories" in a formalised way.

A quick google reveals other, similar sites - fecund with swirly earth mother illustrations and tales of peaceful pushing.

Sometimes I hear about women who don't know they're pregnant until they give birth. (Which I've always found fascinating. HOW can you not know?) That could be great for people like me - no time to fret, just instant baby.

Not to diminish the loveliness of being pregnant and all that - I'm sure it's a real trip. I just don't understand why Mother Nature didn't make childbirth akin to a sneeze or something. After all, pain is the body's way of telling the brain something's wrong (or to be avoided), and I'm pretty sure having a baby doesn't necessarily equate with that. Especially if it's not a kitten.

Basically, we're amazing and complex machines. So I'm disappointed we don't have some sort of trapdoor that would simplify everything, and do away with watermelons through pinheads.

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