One question we ask families in our prenatal meetings are, “What fears do you have in Childbirth, What concerns you?”
Most of the time, people brush it aside, and then a few minutes later say, “Actually I’m worried about _______________.”
Why do we fear childbirth? Is it articles on Facebook? Biological disposition? Why talk about it? Won’t bringing up the possibility that that there is something to be feared trigger an emotional response?
Fear, Anxiety, Concern. Whatever you want to call it, it is the cloud in the room that can greatly impact your pregnancy in birth. As human beings, we need to have our basic needs met to be able to birth our offspring. One of those needs is feeling safe; physically safe and emotionally safe. It means surrounding yourself with support so that you DO feel safe.
In pregnancy, untreated anxiety can have affects on both the mother and baby. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4499279/ Opening the conversation about anxiety helps us refer you to outside sources if needed or gives you the space to talk about your worries, no matter what they are.
We validate your concerns. No matter how rare, no matter the correlation to your delivery, no matter how normal it is, your anxieties MATTER. Giving them space to exist is sometimes all a birthing person needs to let someone else carry the burden and focus on carrying their child and birthing them. Processing stress, concerns and previous trauma is an important part of your perinatal time, and helps set up your birthing time to be a more peaceful one.
One common fear is the unknown. This is especially common for both the birthing person AND the partner! What if I don’t know if I’m in labor? What if it hurts? What if I puke, poop, cry….(you probably will!) What if I don’t know what to do, say, feel…. What if I don’t know how to care for this baby. What if this rare complication happens? What if cervical checks scare me? What if I have had previous trauma? What happens if we have other kids, pets, family…. How will this affect our relationship? What it is like to see your loved one in pain?
A huge part of our job is meeting people exactly where they are at. Talking through things usually bring a large sense of relief to clients. Assurance that your fears, no matter how large or small have a place and they can be carried for you in this time. We also have enormous resources to help people process some of the bigger things that go beyond holding space for them.
Time and again, we see birth become a space where people’s fears arise. Before we used to NOT pry, to just let people bring it up on their own. Sometimes it would come up in a prenatal, or if not, in the birth. We now know that addressing fear as a preventative measure, goes a LONG way in the birthing time. You are not fretful, you are not a burden, all your feelings matter greatly.
In a recent study in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, (sic) woman with fear of childbirth experienced longer labors and an increased rate of instrumental intervention, than those without fear.
We work to address concern with evidence based information and fantastic resources from our community. A lot of times, the validation and extra awareness from your birth team are just the ticket, in addition to some things we have found to help along the way. We want your birth to be a time where you feel safe, supported and heard. Addressing issues prenatally allows you the space to enter your labor without fear.
This also extends into who you invite into your birthing space. We encourage these talks to happen prenatally. This is that someone is not bringing their own fear into the room, and can be helpful to you. It’s important to only have people that are capable to hold the space and to center your birth around you and your family.
You’ve got this! You are the right person to birth this baby. You will do amazing. Lean on your support, process those fears and enjoy connecting with this baby as you enter yout birthing time together.