If you are scared of birth, it’s time to ask yourself this question and release that fear. Is it an answer which you can immediately appropriate your emotions to, or is it something you can’t actually pinpoint yet? Is it your fear, or ‘inherited’ from women around you or society – because it has been indoctrinated in you all of your life that labour and birth are something we suffer, even dread? Pregnancy is a time of great change, and with that change comes a certain vulnerability. Just as you can’t hide that gorgeous growing belly, you can’t hide from your emotions when you’re pregnant. This is the time to look your fears in the face, stare them down and work through them – not just for your benefit, but for your baby’s, too.
I was fearful of three things during my first pregnancy: fear of the unknown, fear of how I would ‘cope’ with this overwhelming pain which kept being reiterated in my presence, and fear of not knowing what to do and when to do it. For example: would I really know when I was in labour.
As the pregnancy progressed my fear compounded. I didn’t feel that I could really voice this to anyone who understood, and I couldn’t find anyone to relate to. I would dip my toe in the water as I asked women in my life about whether they were fearful of birth during their pregnancies, as I expressed my desire for unmedicated birth and to find support in that, but would swiftly retract that toe as I felt judged and alone.
I have mentioned this so many times before, but I feel it just can’t be overemphasised – it wasn’t until I had given birth for the first time that I realised with every fibre of my being that I never had anything to fear, my body just knew what to do, and that all of that time of increasing tension, doubt and anxiety could have been weeks of building excitement and confidence in my ability!
So, what is it about birth that scares you? Is it the pain? Contractions are powerful and a magnificent function of the body when you really think about it. It is so important to remember that any pain or intensity felt during them is both normal and healthy – it is a good pain. Think about a class you took at the gym, a hike in the mountains, a yoga class where you felt particularly strong and pushed yourself out of your comfort zone more than usual. The next day or so after these things, the delayed onset muscle soreness really took hold, and you realised that muscles hurt that you didn’t know existed! You know that this is a good pain, though. You know the pain is the result of pushing the limits of your body and that your body will reward you with increasing strength and vitality. Any pain experienced in labour or birth is not dissimilar. You know the pain is from your body doing exactly what it needs to do – and the reward – does it get any sweeter than holding your beautiful baby in your arms at the end?
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Knowing how to breathe correctly, deeply and calmly is also integral to labour and birth, and it truly was my most powerful tool to work through the contractions and prepare for the next wave. If you have never been taught how to breathe properly, I can’t more highly attest to its importance, and to what it will do for you in birth. Breathing slowly, fully and calmly instructs the brain that all is well. Muscles are soft, the body is soft, and it is easier to be in tune with your body and what it needs – to open. As you open, as you embrace the contractions for what they are doing to move your baby down and into your arms, you surrender. When you surrender, you soften. The process of birth is an unfolding process of physiological responses, and as your head is in a place of acceptance, you allow the process.
I, like the increasing number of women who will read this, have found the true beauty in birth and know that it is something to embrace and not be fearful of. So, can we help you to acknowledge and release your fears?
I’ll finish with some true inspiration! This is one of the most beautiful and empowering births I have seen, ‘Birth of Sloane’ (shared with permission with heartfelt thanks to the exceedingly talented photographer, Natasha Hance nhancephotography.com ). Please watch this, and let it remind you that this is the power that all women possess, this is how calm and gentle birth can be; and above all, birth is beautiful – embrace it with your whole heart!
From the Womb to the World
Photographer: Natasha Hance nhancephotography.com
*Thank you to the family for allowing us to share in your joyous and intimate moments – it is deeply appreciated.
I would like to open up the comments to hear from women who can share what helped them during labour and birth, what they love about giving birth, why birth is exciting, why birth is something that women can trust in and look forward to! I would also like to hear women voicing their fears in this space of support, so that we can get a healthy interaction going and reach out and show that we empathise and genuinely want to help.
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