Fear is at the heart of all anxieties surrounding birth. In my experience 90-95% women have fears.
The main reason women fear birth is from what they have heard from immediate family, in particular their Mum. These fears are reinforced throughout their life from media, television, radio, magazines, movies and many books all portraying negative, fearful stories about birthing.
It is important how we conceive, grow and birth our babies. During pregnancy the unborn baby is being imprinted with all of his mother’s emotions and feelings, and this sets the pattern for life. Research also shows that if a woman/baby experience a painful or violent birth, this is imprinted, and is what the baby will grow up believing and knowing about birth.
SOME COMMON FEARS
1. What if I poo?
Many women do not have a bowel movement but it is a common concern and should be discussed. Hopefully nobody ever says that no-one cares, because the woman certainly does! It’s one of the many discussions doulas have with women, exploring their feelings and anxieties. It’s important to reassure those women who are very anxious, that her doula is there to make sure she labours and births with dignity. Enema’s in labour have not been used for many decades. Most women naturally have loose bowel motions in pre-labour period.
2. Will my partner ever see me as sexy if he looks ‘down there’?
This is a very important question and is different for each couple. How does she feel? How does he feel? It can be confronting for many men and have a lasting imprint. I supported Emma and her partner recently. Emma insisted she did not want him to see her ‘bits’. He was amazed that even with her eyes firmly closed during labour, she knew if he was looking ‘down there’. She was constantly telling him to stop looking, especially when baby was emerging. It was important for Emma to keep her ‘sexy bits’ remaining her ‘sexy bits’.
3. What if I can’t go through with it?
The more horror stories women hear and read about, the more deeply embedded this idea becomes. Surround yourself with positive, like-minded women and make sure that you pre-empt any negative stories by letting everyone know that you and your unborn baby only want to hear positive and beautiful stories.
4. I don’t want everyone seeing my lady bits!
This is so common. So important to raise this during pregnancy to understand her feelings. Doulas are very good at maintaining respect and dignity throughout labour and making sure the staff follow. If a woman is naked, then a sheet can be draped over her. Making sure Dad is at the ‘right’ end, especially if there is medical interference.
5. What if I groan and scream?
The reality of this depends on the degree of fear and what prenatal education a woman had. Women scream because they are frightened and in pain. With Inside Birth® techniques, women learn about how their body functions when there is no fear, and how they can breathe their way through birth and enjoy it, without pain, working with their baby.
6. Other common concerns include:
fear of pain, fear of baby dying, fear of partner not coping, fear of long labour, fear of what they will look like during labour, fear of how they will look after giving birth, fear of medical intervention especially emergency caesarean, fear of forceps/ventouse, fear of blood, fear of not coping, fear of being too loud, fear of not being listened to, fear of vaginal examinations, fear of not making it to the hospital and birthing in the car, fear of having family members wanting to come to the birth, fear of not being able to love the baby. These are just a few that are common.
4 TIPS TO AVOID THESE FEARS AND ENJOY YOUR BIRTH
1. Shop around as early in pregnancy as possible for the ‘right’ caregiver and place to birth.
2. Hire a Birth Right doula. Women need ongoing, continuity of support from an independent woman (i.e. one outside the hospital system) A BIRTH RIGHT DOULA
3. Book an Inside Birth® prenatal course and learn about your amazing birthing body and how your thoughts and beliefs profoundly influence your labour, birth and baby. You will learn how to create positive images of birthing.
It is difficult for a woman to develop a positive mindset on her own. It seems we live in a culture in Australia that almost embraces the horror stories about birth, with some pride. Research shows that having a doula (the right doula) reduces the need for medical interventions by 70% (in my experience it is much higher than that!) Women are designed to give birth and give birth beautifully.
MY GOLD NUGGET OF ADVICE
Trust and believe in your ability to conceive, grow and birth magnificently and question everything that anyone wants to do during pregnancy, every test, every consent form, every ultrasound. Always ask why? How does this benefit me and my baby? You are making every decision on behalf of your baby. It is the beginning of parenting and as parents we never stop questioning.