Sometimes Birth Feels Scary

Title image saying "sometimes birth feels scary" in a navy hexagon. Pregnant woman holding bump in background.

Birth is a wondrous process, but it’s also one that can bring up a lot of fear and anxiety for the birthing person. Considering that movies/TV always portray birth as this chaotic, terrifying event where everyone is running around like crazy and something almost always goes wrong, it’s not surprising. Not to mention, as every pregnant person¬†knows, the second someone finds out you’ll be giving birth in the near future, their first instinct is to tell you about their aunt’s cousin’s girlfriend’s best friend’s brother’s wife who had a traumatic delivery.

Society as a whole sets us up to be utterly terrified of the birth process, and never even mentions the postpartum period.

Image of pregnant woman cradling stomach while sitting on a bench near a lake.
Taking some time to just BE with your baby before birth can help both of you feel more prepared.

Fear can affect the birth process…

The problem with all this fear is that our bodies are designed with some pretty primitive reactions to fear in the birth space. Back in the day (like waaaaaay back), if a pack of wolves approached while you were laboring, you needed to shut that process down fast so you could flee. Now the likelihood of being threatened by wolves in a modern hospital is around zero (never say never?), but your body still reacts to stress, whether real or perceived, (and the subsequent release of adrenaline) the same way. It slows down the production of oxytocin (the hormone responsible for contractions) and slows or shuts down the labor process. When your labor is arrested, your provider is likely to start worrying about your safety and baby’s, causing you to feel more stressed.

Image of two wolves in a forest.
Wolves – unlikely participants in modern birth stories. Still cute.

Getting past your fear of birth…

All this is not to say your fears are not valid. Birth is not without risk and your feelings matter. Maybe you have a fear of not making it to the hospital in time, maybe you have a fear of unwanted interventions, maybe you have a fear of tearing during delivery, or maybe you simply have a fear of pooping on the table while you push. The best way to combat these fears is to educate yourself on the birth process as much as possible and accept that birth can’t really be controlled, or even predicted. Trust yourself. Trust your provider. Focus on positive birth stories and read affirmations every chance you get. If you have a doula, talk it through with her. She will validate your fears while also being able to put them in perspective.
Still not helping?
Schedule a Labor Whispering session with Erin!

“Life is tough, my darling, but so are you.”
-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

Image of a newborn baby's foot with pink hospital bracelet.
Precious newborn feet – the best.

Authored by Tiffany DePute

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