Baby Dilemmas: Jennifer and Dave

A Labor of Love?
Dr. Phil talks to Kristin and Jimmy, who are conflicted about how to care for their sick daughter.
Jennifer and Dave have been married for less than a year, and he wants her to have eight children. The problem is that Jennifer says she's scared to death of childbirth pain.

"I definitely have a phobia of giving birth," she explains. "Dave would have a better chance of having all eight kids himself than me having them."

She remembers being in the delivery room with a friend as a teenager. "When I think about the pains of childbirth, I think it's something that I'm not going to be able to handle once I get there," she says.

If they're watching a TV show with a childbirth scene, Dave says, "She turns her head or hides her eyes. It's not something she can even watch." He would like Jennifer, who's 29, to be pregnant by their first anniversary.

"Dave feels it's important that we have this huge family so they can take care of us when we're elderly. What 32-year-old man thinks like this?" Jennifer wonders. "Dr. Phil, do I have a real phobia about the pain of childbirth, or am I just not ready yet?"

"Do you want children?" Dr. Phil asks her.

"I want to have them, but I don't want to have them," she tries to explain.

Dr. Phil asks Dave if he thinks his wife has a phobia of childbirth.

"I do," Dave says. "Like she said, she really wants to have children. It's just this issue of the actual delivery that's holding her back."

Dr. Phil explains that there actually is a phobia of childbirth. "It's called 'lockiophobia,' he says, "and it sounds like for you it's like 'lock-yo-knees-together,'" he teases, drawing laughter from the audience.

"Monsters do live in the dark. There's a lot of unknowns here for you," Dr. Phil tells Jennifer. "I would really hate to see you cheat yourself out of a lifetime of joy and pleasure and fun because of fear of one day or a few hours."

He tells Jennifer that according to research, anxiety, fear and expectations increase the pain of childbirth dramatically.

Jennifer wants clarification. "So you're saying that the actual anxiety that I have, if I learn to control that and lessen that, it will actually lessen the effect of the pain?" she asks.

"Dramatically," Dr. Phil assures her. "Pain is a very subjective thing." He gives an example of "panic button" research, where participants were jolted with electrical shocks to see how much pain they could tolerate. "If you gave them a panic button where they could stop it at any time and they knew that, they could handle two, three, four, 500 percent more pain than if they couldn't stop it, because they were afraid of being trapped," he points out.

"That's what I need," Jennifer insists.

Dr. Phil tells Jennifer about a technique used in delivery rooms, which is similar to a panic button. It's called a patient-controlled epidural, and it's used to treat labor pain.

"When you're in the delivery process, you control how much medication you have in the epidural," he explains. "If you'll learn anxiety control ... and go into the delivery process where you have direct, hands-on control, then you would feel much less scared and panicked about the situation, right?" he asks.

Jennifer is reassured, and Dave agrees with Dr. Phil that they're making progress.