I don’t know about you, but from a very young age, I was taught by society and the media to relate childbirth to extreme pain and mass hysteria. For a long time, I thought that the chaotic birth scenes on TV were realistic, when the truth is, they’re usually anything but! To make matters worse, there is often an unhealthy dose of misinformation that sets up unrealistic expectations of what childbirth is really like. Watching this stuff, it’s no wonder people are so fearful of giving birth!
Fear triggers something called the fear-tension-pain cycle. That is, your fear causes you to be tense and your tension increases pain. Then, you become afraid of the pain and the cycle goes on and on. As you can imagine, this cycle is NOT at all helpful when you’re trying to relax and allow your body to do its thing.
So, what can you do to get rid of your fears and become more confident about giving birth? Here are 5 ways to do just that!
1. Practice daily positive affirmations or mantras.
First thing to do is ditch the negative mindset. Which phrases would be more helpful to repeat to yourself every day of your pregnancy- This is going to suck…worst pain of my life…my body will be ruined OR this is how I meet my baby…I can handle anything that comes my way…I’m grateful to my body for nurturing this new life…?
If your best friend told you they were pregnant, would you encourage them to tell themselves the first three phrases every day or the last three? Why not encourage yourself with positive affirmations as well?
2. Take a *quality* childbirth education class
People often have a fear of the unknown. A great way to combat that is to educate yourself! Enroll in a comprehensive, evidence-based childbirth education class. Many can be found online, especially now during a pandemic.
You’ll have to do a bit of research to find a class that works for you. Some factors include whether this is your first experience giving birth, what kind of birth you’re hoping to have, your availability for class, and your budget. Be sure to research who is teaching the class and check out any reviews if possible to avoid being disappointed in what is offered.
After taking a good childbirth education class, you should have a better understanding of what goes on during birth, understand the different ways you can make yourself more comfortable and feel more confident about your body’s ability to birth another human.
3. Ask friends and family to save the horror stories for later.
It seems as though once people find out you’re pregnant, there’s some sort of secret casting call to find the worst labor story imaginable and you get to be the judge!
Generally speaking, most people mean well when they hunt you down to tell you their labor horror story. Maybe they don’t want you to be caught off guard like them, or they want to sympathize with you, or just keep the conversation going. Whatever the reason, if you feel like horror stories are not helpful for you, you are totally allowed to ask people to keep their negative stories to themselves.
Unless you are their therapist, your job is not to help people work through their own trauma. For the sake of your own birth experience and mental wellbeing, there’s nothing wrong with turning down a birth horror story. The last thing you need is to internalize Aunt Mable’s 120 hour-long birth where she finally had to receive a C-section in the woods by the local horse vet.
On the flip side, if you think positive stories will be encouraging you can always ask friends and relatives to share their happy birth stories. You can find some positive birth story podcasts online or wherever you listen to podcasts.
4. Practice meditation
Meditation is a wonderful tool you can use to quiet the mind and calm your body during pregnancy and birth. You can play around with various techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, and body scanning to ease yourself into a state of deep relaxation. Meditation helps to lower your blood pressure and become more aware of your body as well. In short, it is an excellent tool to break up the fear-tension-pain cycle.
5. Speak to a professional therapist
There is nothing wrong with enlisting a professional to help you work through your fear and anxiety surrounding childbirth. Having a baby is kind of a huge deal! You’re going through major changes, like all the time.
If you think you need more help than what you can do yourself, reach out to your doctor or therapist. They can help you learn other ways to cope with your fear and anxiety so that you can look forward to your birthing day with a level head.
So there you have it!
5 ways to kick your fears to the curb so that you can give birth with confidence. I hope this was helpful to you and that you are able to give birth feeling empowered and maybe even excited for the challenge ahead!
Do you have any tips that weren’t mentioned? Leave us a comment below!