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Girl Talk: Scared of Giving Birth

Q. My first baby is due next month, and I'm terrified of giving birth. Obviously, it's inevitable, but I wish I could skip it. How do I stop obsessing?

A. Of course you want to skip it. During each of my three trips to the hospital I had a moment -- or ten -- when I wondered why I couldn't just fast-forward to the recovery room.

The wish to escape is strongest when you're staring down delivery for the first time. You're heading toward a great unknown. And you're petrified by all those stories you've heard. (We veterans can't help "enlightening" newbies. I blame sleep deprivation.)

First, know that you can't control every aspect of the birth. Your baby is often the one calling the shots, so take a big Lamaze sigh of relief: The pressure's off. Also, trust your body. During labor, if you start thinking "I can't do this," remind yourself that you are doing it.

Finally, remember that having a baby is more than physical. It's easy to tick off each and every clinical aspect of delivery, but no one can describe the profundity of the experience. (The best we vets can come up with is "It was amazing." Again, I blame sleep deprivation.) This is what makes the process worth going through. It promises to deliver a feeling too amazing for words -- not to mention a baby too beautiful to describe. And you wouldn't want to skip that.

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