What words come up most when we talk about childbirth?
FEAR AND ANXIETY rank highest.
Fear of the pain.
The real answer is everyone experiences childbirth in their own unique way and every single birth is different. There is a lot more births that happen somewhere in the middle of those two statements than at either extreme.
How to you overcome the fear of pain in childbirth?
You can work to overcome this fear by having a basic understanding of labor and birth. Learn some basic information about how your body works. How your cervix opens or the basic steps of a cesarean birth. A childbirth educator can assist you with this information. Choose a class that talks openly about the options you prefer.
Learn your options for comfort and pain relief. Do you want to learn comfort techniques? How to move with labor? How to relax (and what that even means in labor)? Learn what a support person can do to assist you. Will you choose a doula (a trained support person)? Learn about medications that can help you and how to choose what is best for you and when it may be most beneficial for you personally.
Keep in mind that you are different from everyone else. Don't let someone tell you their way is the only "safe" or "best" way.
Have a plan but also have an open mind. Sometimes labor moves faster or slower than our original plan. Sometimes there are unexpected issues that come up. While having a plan is key, realizing that your labor may not go according to plan is also important. This brings us to our next fear.
Fear of loosing control.
Ideally, most people want to have control in their options. You want to be able to decide what positions you would like to be in during labor, how you can move, what you can wear. These are important things. Most people really want to be heard in labor. This is valuable! You get that control by having knowledge over the options your birth place and your care provider regularly offer. Have conversations with your provider to find out common practices. Take the hospital tour to learn your options at the hospital. Know if there are showers or tubs to utilize and what exactly that means. Learn the check in procedures for your hospital. This helps you with your options and gives you control over your labor.
You can't control the labor itself, though. Your baby may have different ideas. While most labors and births follow the standard curve, some labors and births require medical assistance that was not in in the plan.
Having an understanding of various options in these situations is important, too, even if that was not your plan.
Fear of judgement.
These are real fears many many people experience. Decide who you will and won't tell when you are in labor. Who will be invited to your birth? You do NOT need to invite everyone in your family or close friend circle. You don't even need to tell everyone you are in labor! Be firm and set boundaries. Expect people to be supportive of you in your labor. If they can't be supportive, they can wait in the waiting room or go home.
Your partner loves you and probably has their own fears surrounding childbirth. They are watching the person they love do something that is scary and unknown and they aren't able to "fix' it. Have open and honest communications both before and after the birth. Have them focus on you and your face and not your body. Most of the time partners aren't even aware of all that is happening because of their own feelings. Again a childbirth educator and doula can help your partner understand the birth process so they are more supportive in whatever way that might look for them.
Nurses and care givers and seen and heard everything! They know what birth looks and sounds like. They don't get to judge you because it's not their labor. Plus, you probably will never see them again.
Fear of something going wrong/your body is "broken".
Nearly everyone is afraid. Nearly everyone is nervous. Learning your options and being flexible are important, but what if it goes beyond that? What do you do if it's taken over your life?
It is so very important to seek therapy or counseling prior to your birth. Find someone that is trained and familiar in birth to assist you. While doulas are there to help you with emotions surrounding your birth, they are not trained therapists. Get referrals and plan ahead. Have supportive people with you. Discuss your fears with your care providers and discuss options for you. Some people may opt to have a planned cesarean birth because the fear of their birth the last time is too strong. Only you can make these personal decisions.
Your biggest takeaways:
- Seek information and seek support.
- Make a plan and be flexible.
- Seek therapy if needed.
- Set firm boundaries for the people in your life.