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How 'Pregnant in Heels' helped me get over my birth fears

Cindi Avila appeared on an episode of Bravo's "Pregnant in Heels" reality TV show. Here, she recounts how the show helped her overcome her fear of needles -- and just in the nick of time!

Cindi Avila

Cindi Avila, shown here with her daughter Alexia, got through her pregnancy (and her needle phobia) with a little help from reality TV.

When I found out I was pregnant, my first emotion was shock; my next was confusion. 

How would I, a gal terrified of having blood drawn and any medical procedure, survive 9 months of doctor’s visits?   Not to mention a whopper of a labor day where I’d get my first-ever IV and epidural?  All I could think is that I somehow needed to find the strength.  What was growing inside of me was far more important than any fear, even one that I’ve had all my life. The question was,  how would I overcome it? 

Enter “Pregnant in Heels.” I decided to see if Rosie Pope, host of the show and tutor to terrified moms-to-be, could help me.  I figured I had nothing to lose.  I could use a distraction, anything to take my mind off the doctor’s visits I was already dreading.   (Read our interview with Pope, where she dishes on her high-maintenance clients and her half-British, half-American accent.)

Rosie quickly learned how freaked out I was. Some people have a fear of flying. I have a fear that I learned is technically called trypanophobia, but more commonly known as needle phobia. (See our Body Odd post on needle phobia, and where it comes from.)

Being pregnant with this phobia was very isolating at first. While others talked about their pregnancies like it was the greatest time of their lives, I got weak just thinking about what was ahead.   If you saw my episode of “Pregnant in Heels,”you saw Rosie try several different things to help me overcome my fear.  There was the doula who showed me aromatherapy.  I learned about proper breathing and even tried hypnosis.  During a mom prep class, they even showed me an IV, which brought me to tears.

So what happened on delivery day?  Well, I’d say nothing short of a miracle.  

Contractions began at about 7am.   They weren’t bad enough to go to the hospital though, until around 4pm.   Soon after, I survived getting my first IV.  Yes I cried, but I didn’t faint!  Trust me, that was huge. From there, the pains from the contractions got so bad I was begging for the epidural.  I never thought I’d beg for any needle, let alone the giant one they used on me!

I’m not much into religion, but I’d swear the anesthesiologist was bathed in white light when he entered the room.  As you saw on the show, I practiced some good breathing techniques while getting the epidural and didn’t shed a tear.  Hours later, my beautiful Alexia was born and it was all worth it!  

Am I completely over my fear?  No, but boy, did I come a long way.  What I also learned is that I’m far from alone in being terrified of needles.  Since the show aired, countless women have told me they feel the same way as I do.   Many told me I gave them the strength to have a baby and also face their needle phobia.

As for “Pregnant in Heels,” my reality TV experience couldn’t have been more real. 

Cindi Avila is an anchor on NY1, New York City’s 24-hour news channel, and a vegetarian chef who has appeared on The Food Network.