FEAR... This word appears so often when it is question of childbirth and maternity. Not only from childless friends who haven't really thought of the question yet, but almost everywhere, and especially coming from mothers about to give birth...
Fear of pain, fear of tearing, fear of bleeding, fear that the baby won't be healthy, fear to die, fear that labor will be long, fear of not being a good mother, fear of not being able to breastfeed, fear that our vagina won't come back the way it was, fear that out breasts will be affected breastfeeding, fear of the c-section, fear of not being able to lose the extra pregnancy weight, fear of the responsibilities of maternity, etc, etc, etc.
Fear is a birthing mother's worst enemy. When we are afraid, we release adrenalin, a powerful hormone that can mess up the fragile balance of the hormonal cocktail making birth possible. This can create a stalled labor, bring interventions and create complications. When we are confident instead of being afraid, we are putting chance on our side for everything to go well.
To succeed in this, the best thing to do is to start early to identify and eliminate our fears one by one. Ideally, do this even before getting pregnant. Don't wait until the last weeks of pregnancy to deal with your fears, but better late than never.
But where do all these fears come from? They are mostly generated by our cultural environment, medias, and even religion, who are creating and projecting exaggerated visions of childbirth. For a dramatic or comical effect? For control? I am still waiting for mainstream TV shows and films showing a beautiful vision of childbirth. We are surrounded by horror birth stories. We talk about all the worst things that can happen, but we omit all the beautiful stories. Is it because they are not entertaining enough? Because we don't want to hurt the feelings of the mothers who did not have an idyllic birth experience?
Yes, it is true that complications can arise, and that there are women who have traumatic births. But when we are focusing on these stories, we feed fear and forget everything that can go right, and all the wonderful births that happen too.
It is important to remember that a lot of complications arise from wounds and traumas that have been left undealt with. They can concern your own birth, your sexuality, your self-esteem, or a previous birth. One of the worst mistakes to make is to brush away these fears and pretend that you're over them, because they have a tendency to catch up with us during our most vulnerable moments... during labor, for example. Yes, it is hard to dig into our past traumas, it can be painful. But once we free ourselves from our past wounds and traumas, the fears associated with them cease to exist.
The first thing to do is to talk about our fears. Sometimes it is all that it takes. The simple fact of naming our fear makes it smaller. There are also a multitude of tools to help us free ourselves from our fears. Start early. Even before getting pregnant (if possible), look around and within yourself to find the tools to deal with your wounds and fears. Early in pregnancy, try to obtain a follow-up with a midwife, or hire a doula. They can help you unwind your fears one by one, and orient you towards various tools if you wish to go further. Look for positive birth stories, the ones that give you confidence instead of creating anxiety. The tools are there, you just have to reach for them. It is also very important that the future father also address his fears, as they can influence the mother and affect the process of birth. Fear is contagious.
There are also alternative therapies for those who wish to try them out: hypnosis, energy treatments, rebirth. These are only a few examples of ressources available to help us go to the bottom of our wounds and fears.
No, I am not afraid of birth. In the birthing center where I work, beautiful births are the norm, not the exception. Yes, I have seen a few emergencies, but I have never doubted the skills of the midwives to deal with the situation. I have also been working on myself for the past few years, to make peace with my own birth, heal my wounds and dig into my own fears, allowing me to be more confident with life and connected to my intuition. I surround myself with positive stories, and I do not watch sensationalist birth TV shows. Now, it's all up to you!
Have a nice day!