It is possible to give birth without fear.
While observing a local childbirth class this past weekend, I was reminded of how it is somewhat normal to be fearful, apprehensive and squeamish when it comes to childbirth.
I actually find this quite ironic considering women’s lib – women are strong, women can achieve whatever they wish, etc.
We Are Taught to Be Afraid
Our culture and family teach that women can do anything they want because they are smart and strong, but when it comes to childbirth things are different.
“Hush, hush, let’s not talk about that.”
“That’s so gross what your body does.”
“Your body can’t push out a baby that big through something so small.”
“Why would you want to feel childbirth pain? Get an epidural.”
“You can’t give birth without an epidural.”
“Your baby is too big for a vaginal birth. You might need a cesarean section to get your baby out.”
Feed the Fear
All of these statements feed the fear which we have been taught –
“You won’t be able to handle the pain of childbirth and your body is not designed to give birth.”
These statements are floating around the minds of MOST expecting moms.
Can nothing be done?
If you think you might be one of the many fearful pregnant women of our culture, what are you to do?
Is the fear and distrust so ingrained in you that nothing can be done?
How to Birth Without Fear
Here are my suggestions on how to combat the conscious and sub-conscious learning that IS NOT WORKING FOR US.
Take a (good) childbirth class!
Yes, women have been giving birth for eons, but in our culture women need to be educated about the 1. normalcy of childbirth, 2. how it is designed and works and 3. our options in our culture. Most women don’t learn this information as a girl or young woman!
A class like the ones I teach (Birthing From Within) addresses all this and more.
Birthing From Within talks about fears – we do an exercise called a Birth Tiger Safari. This is where instead of dismissing your worries (“Oh, you’ll be fine”) or me trying to fix your fears (“How about you do this”), you take a look at them head on and work through it.
Take prenatal yoga classes. What better way to get to know your pregnant body than yoga? There are a few places in my city that offer prenatal yoga – Journeys in Yoga, Namaste to name two. Do a Google search to see what your options are where you live.
Here’s a great prenatal yoga DVD you can do in the comfort of your own home.Here’s a great yoga DVD you can do in the comfort of your own home.
Switch Care Providers
The person you are seeing to guide you through your pregnancy and birth might be feeding your fear. I have met people like this – they are so fearful that something could go wrong that they are more prone to inductions, surgery, medications, etc.
I wrote a whole post on the subject of changing care providers. Take a look at it here!
Spend some time in nature.
Go for walks, plant a garden, breathe clean air and watch a sunrise/sunset.
Somehow, when doing these simple tasks you are reminded of the beauty of creation and our bodies.
When we take some time to be still, and quiet our minds we find strength and peace we didn’t know we had.
Positive Birth Stories
Surround yourself with positive people and stories!
If Aunt Wilma keeps telling you her horror birth stories, recognize that she’s just not working for you. Politely tell her to stop, or just avoid her the rest of your pregnancy.
Seek out people who have had amazing births and listen to them. Believe their stories.
Here’s another post I wrote about how powerful our word is, especially when it comes to birth.
Here’s my homebirth transfer birth story. You might find it encouraging!
Take a breastfeeding class and join a breastfeeding support group. You may dismiss the idea thinking, “oh women have been breastfeeding for thousands of years, so I’ll be fine”…
Don’t be fooled.
Sixty or so years ago, our culture decided to tell women that their breastmilk wasn’t adequate and that formula was superior. Women believed the lie, and since then we have lost the the how to information that was usually learned from generation to generation, from grandmother to granddaughter, from mother to daughter.
Now, the advice we hear is “rub your nipples with a washcloth in the last few weeks of pregnancy to get your nipples ready.” (By the way, that is not good advice!)
Here’s a great post about breastfeeding twins that has so much good advice in it, any mother could find it encouraging.
Hire a doula. For the same reason you need to take a breastfeeding class, you need to hire a doula. The art of good labor support has been lost and then thrust upon our fathers-to-be. Fathers do best as loving partners, not as doula.
Women need constant, good labor support!
We weren’t designed to give birth alone. We need someone who has been there to remind us how to cope, tell us we can do it, and help with positioning.
Doulamatch.net is a great resource to find a doula in your area.
Read Good Books
Read good pregnancy and birth books like Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth,
The Birth Partner, and
Throw Out Bad Books
Throw out books like What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Your Pregnancy Week by Week. These two books are fear-based and spend a good deal of time talking about what could go wrong.
Journaling can be therapeutic, cathartic and a great way to work through baggage. Check out this post all about the best pregnancy journals.
Dance. Stop taking yourself so seriously and dance. Dance when no one is looking, and dance with your partner. Dance in your backyard, or maybe take a Dancing For Birth class.
Enjoy your body and have fun with it!
My faith has always grounded me as I prepare to have a baby, give birth and cope through postpartum. Bible verses, like this one, are KEY to working through fears leading up to birth. Pregnancy is a contemplative time, and a perfect time to examine or discover your faith.
The opposite of love is fear. Chew on that for awhile…
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18
Last, but certainly not least, do some art projects. Drawing gets you out of your thinking, rational mind, and more into the mind that gives birth. Birth art was so helpful to me in my third trimester!
You don’t need to be an “artist” to try – you just need to try!
Here are the Birthing From Within art projects listed in the book.
- Pregnant Woman – How do you see yourself as a pregnant woman?
- Being Pregnant – What is being pregnant like for you?
- Journey/Landscape of Birth – Imagine your birth as a journey through a landscape. What’s the weather like? What and whom would you want with you on your journey?
- Door to Birth – If there were a secret door to giving birth, what would it look like? What’s behind, around or in front of it? Is anyone in the picture?
- The Opening – Create an image that will help your body relax, open, and bring your baby into this world.
- Drawing on Your Animal Nature – What animal do you associate with “easy birthing” or “good mothering”?
- Artist-Historian – Your assignment is to record in a drawing, or a series of drawings, how women give birth in this time and place. Draw the birth place and illustrate the customs. If there are people at births, show what they are doing. Try to be objective. This may or may not represent your own birth experience or values, but it should represent the current birth customs.
- Facing Fear – Freely express what you most fear happening in labor.
- Transformation of Fear – If what you fear should occur, draw or write how you would cope with that reality.
- A Womb with a View – What is your baby doing in his/her womb all day? What does he/she look like? See? Hear? Feel?
- Closing Mandala – Cut a circle of whatever size seems best for you …. On it use college, words, drawing, or painting to portray the following themes: the relationship between you and your pregnant belly, the unity between you and your baby, and or the learning from (your childbirth preparation) you’ll want to take with you.
Giving Birth Without Fear
Giving birth without fear is a possibility and a reality.
You were made to birth without fear, but our culture and our upbringing has tried to take that away.
Friend, take it back! Take your body and your birth back!
Take some of my suggestions and see how they work for you.