It is important for a pregnant woman to recognize her fears and be able to release them. The fears that pregnant women have are not always to do with their impending labour and birth. As the doula, I want you to be able to help a woman to identify her fears and be able to work through them BEFORE the labour and birth.
Fear is one of the strongest emotions we have. Fear can, and often does, control peoples’ lives. Fear impacts greatly on labour. When a woman experiences stress, messages are sent to all of the receptors in the body, creating exaggerated reactions.
This then causes physiological and chemical changes within the body. Fear is also part of life and so serves a purpose. For some women, there can be a healthy level of fear which motivates them to research and learn as much as possible about their journey ahead. For doulas too, a certain amount of fear can be healthy, teaching us to be silent and observant, simultaneously being amazed at the strength and power of women’s bodies. It’s getting the balance right that is important.
We now have a medical system that blatantly advertises a risk-based approach to maternity care. The language used, in the dominant medical model of birth talks about damage and death. Fear in this form has the potential to render women helpless and powerless by subtly coercing them to hand over all control and responsibility for their pregnancy, labour and birth and into the post-natal period. What happens when Caregivers, doulas and women, act and respond with fear?