Are you pregnant and finding yourself scared of childbirth? If so, you are in good company as I think every woman faces this fear at one time or another.
As I write this, I am 17 days past giving birth to my eighth child, and, I am also a childbirth instructor…and I face these fears during each pregnancy as well. You would think that experience chases these fears entirely away, however, feeling just a bit of fear is normal for every expectant mother.
We don’t have to live with that fear, however, you can take ownership of that fear, and by owning that fear you can overcome it.
This doesn’t come automatically, but overcoming this fear of birth is completely possible. If it weren’t, I’m not so sure I would have signed up for this whole thing this many times 😉
Just as in many things, overcoming the fear of childbirth takes some intention and it takes a bit of work, but knowing what to do is the first step. This is where my eight childbirth experiences and my childbirth educator training comes in really handy for you!
If you are scared of childbirth, here’s what you need to do.
Become educated about the entire labor and delivery process. Learn about the different phases and stages of labor, how to recognize them, and what is physically happening with your body at each step.
Don’t underestimate the value of quality childbirth education. You can learn the basics from a book or in basic childbirth classes, but really learning everything you can about the childbirth process in great detail is the first step to conquering your fear about it. Quality education is your best bet.
Learn how to recognize labor
This is one of the greatest fears of any expectant mother…”how will I know when it’s time?” Recognizing labor is an outcome of a good childbirth education series, but learning the ins and outs about how to differentiate between real labor and false labor is important.
Pack a great hospital bag
Packing a hospital bag is more than just bringing everything but the kitchen sink. Packing a labor hospital bag is all about bringing things that will help comfort you while in labor. This would include things like hair ties, chapstick, calming and relaxing essential oils, lotions, or other fragrances that are comforting to you. Have some tools for back labor, a sports bra for getting in the tub or shower, and even some food for those who will be with you in labor so they don’t have to wander very far from you to eat something. Read what I feel is essential to pack in your hospital bag here.
Have a great support system
I could not make it through labor without the support of my husband. That being said, it is more than just being present. Your support system will have to know how to help you, how to comfort you, and how to answer questions on your behalf at times. This means that your support team members need to be educated right along with you. They will have to know the best ways to comfort you and even to leave you alone much of the time if you prefer. This is actually how I prefer to labor – on my own, withdrawn into my own self, and drawing strength from my own natural abilities as a woman.
Get inspired from others
In the weeks and months leading up to your birth, read the inspirational birth stories of others. Let the negative birth stories fall along the wayside. There are always those who have these negative experiences, but let them share these experiences with someone else. There are so many empowering stories out there to read. Read about the beauty of birth, a woman’s ability to give birth, and the power of the whole experience. These are some of my favorite books on the subject, and they will prepare you for the job ahead of you.
Labor is a physical experience, and endurance is your friend. For this reason, get yourself physically ready for childbirth. Pregnancy is not the time to go out and start something new, however, under the direction of your doctor, even things like walking consistently and in a way that is comfortable yet challenging can greatly equip you for the endurance that childbirth takes.
In addition to physically preparing and getting inspirational birth stories into your head, mentally preparing is so important. I feel being mentally prepared is almost more important than being prepared in any other way. If you had no bag, no support team, and no education, being mentally prepared can overcome all of those other things.
Being mentally prepared means believing in the power of birth. It means believing in your own strength and ability. It means knowing that this job of birthing a baby is hard, but it is also what may be the most rewarding thing you will ever do. There is no experience like it, and I can say that each of the eight times I have given birth it has been an equally moving and empowering experience. Be strong in your mind and you will be strong in your body.
Write a birth plan
I actually required that my students write a birth strategy since no one can ever really plan for birth. Please, take the time to do something more than fill in the blanks of some sort of template. Take the time to really envision what you think you will want and need while recognizing that your experience will not go according to plan in some way…and this is fine. I take you step by step how to do this in How to Write An Amazing Birth Plan For a Natural Birth. This tool is worth its weight in gold if you desire a natural brith, but even if you don’t, this tool is everything you need.
Envision your ideal birth
This is so important. So often we skip over this step in regards to nearly anything we plan on doing, but I feel we forfeit an amazing tool in doing so. It is so hard to bring something we have never even imagined into reality. Envision your ideal birth over and over again. Of course you also need to accept that this will most likely not be exactly how your experience will go, but it is amazing at how close it can come if you have gone though it in your mind countless times. Skip this step and you have just made it more difficult for you to achieve labor and delivery without fear.
Get the proper perspective
Understand that no matter how the experience goes for you, the goal is to have a healthy baby and a healthy mama in the end. Everything else really doesn’t matter in the overall scheme of things. In fact, even if nothing goes as you would like it, it really will be ok. If you follow these steps, you will have prepared well, and this means that you will make the best decisions for yourself and your baby at the time. Keeping a healthy perspective is so important.
If you find yourself saying, “Help! I’m scared of childbirth,” embrace these 10 concepts, internalize them, take ownership of them, and carry them with you into the delivery room.
And, have an amazing birth story to share some day!