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.
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.
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.”