Fear of giving birth – deserves to be taken seriously
Forget the “perfect labor” – it doesn’t exist. Learn to manage your feelings instead of suppressing them.
4 min read
If you are worried and scared before the delivery, take your feelings seriously! They are very normal and deserve to be respected. Fear is a natural part of mental preparation but it doesn’t have to – and shouldn’t – control your life. Fear of giving birth can in some cases take up a disproportionately large amount of space, and become a problem if you don’t learn to manage it. There’s a lot of information you can read up on and several things you can practice yourself before the delivery.
First of all, it’s important to normalize the fear, meaning that you need to understand that fear is a feeling, and not a threat. Talk to someone you trust, like your partner, midwife, or someone else. Try to put words on how you usually react to fear. What are the signs? Can you stop the fear by actively doing the opposite? Learn how fear affects your body and how you can control your feelings by controlling your body language. It’s common, for instance, to pull up your shoulders, talk in a squeaky voice, breathe loudly and, in some cases, have tunnel vision if you are scared. Try to identify what is a positive and negative control, and what you can and cannot affect. Analyze how fear affects you and read up on the subject, or ask your midwife for help with concrete exercises.
During the delivery itself, the “opposite tactic” is very efficient. When we are scared, we often enter into a “flight mode”, pulling up our shoulders, clenching our jaws, breathing quickly, and talking with a “squeaky” voice. It gets the adrenaline rushing through the body, which hampers the delivery. Do the opposite instead: lower your shoulders, let the lower jaw drop, and talk with a “muted” voice. By doing so, you’ll help your uterus work in the right way, and the same goes for when you enter the pushing phase. You should practice this beforehand, as it will be easier for you when it’s happening for real.
During the delivery itself, it’s a good idea to end every contraction with a couple of deep sighs to mark that it’s time to rest now – and the body will relax. Make the most of the breaks you get and try to rest between contractions. Take small ’power naps’, as they will help you maintain focus if the delivery drags on. It’s even totally ok to fall asleep during your delivery!
Read up on the different stages of delivery. This is good information to have with you and it makes it easier for you to understand and recognize what stage you are at. Try to open up mentally and think that you will meet your delivery with a mindful presence. Such preparation, practice, and attitude reduce the risk of panicking if the delivery turns tough. Don’t make up your mind beforehand about what your delivery will be like – it could take four hours or two days, and you can’t affect it in any way. Try instead to be filled with positive and loving expectations and make sure you are well prepared: that’s enough!
Many choose to take a Lamaze class before giving birth. These are often very appreciated by the participants and give a better understanding of the delivery and what you and your potential partner actively can do to ease and enhance the experience you are going through. If you are worried, one piece of advice is to look into such a class, it’s often very helpful and it helps you feel prepared for the big day!
When everything is done and dusted and the baby is born, think about your delivery, talk about the experience and try to realize that everything that happened had a reason, even if it was difficult. Be proud of yourself and remember that you made it!
Source: Swedish Healthcare Guide 1177
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