When it comes to pregnancy and preparing for birth- it’s the same! Birth is a big event and most people want to prepare as best as they know how. Usually a few worries or fears will pop up along the way.
In fact, pregnant women all over the world worry! They worry about pain, their babies health and how they will cope. Some other common worries include; feeling rushed or fear of taking too long, being judged for making noise, being separated from the baby and having medical interventions.
In the ‘Birthing From Within’ book (written by Pam England), there is a quote from a childbirth psychologist who says ‘worry is the work of pregnancy’. This may come as a surprise to some because we often believe that the women who appear relaxed and confident are the ones that birth normally.
Pam England states that in all her years of midwifery practice, it’s the “over-confident first time mother” that worries her the most now. She worries that this mother will not be truly prepared for what awaits her.
Most of us would be familiar with what happens in our bodies when we feel fear. Our heartbeat quickens, our breath becomes shallow and our muscles tense. It’s known as the fight-flight-freeze response and is combined with the release of adrenalin.
During pregnancy, repeatedly worrying can mean our muscles tighten and we may begin to hold tension in our hips, pelvic area and muscles surrounding the uterus. This can make it more difficult to open during labour.
During labour; fear will release adrenalin and this inhibits or slows the release of oxytocin (the hormone needed for birth). Labour can slow right down and even stop. Our bodies respond to adrenalin and will stop labour until it is safe to continue. Imagined fears create the same response as real threats. We may not have actual ‘tigers’ in our birth space- but the ‘tigers’ (worries) in our mind makes our body respond the same. If a woman approaches labour with unresolved fears, her body releases adrenalin and she may not easily go into labour or labour may be long and slow. Her muscles will hold more tension, and it will be harder for her uterus to contract effectively, making things more painful.
- Are you trying to control everything, researching lots and creating a strict ‘birth plan’?
- Are you avoiding ‘reading that chapter’ and/or avoiding listening to birth stories?
- Are you only listening to ‘experts’ and/or not wanting to have expectations or hopes?
If you identified with any of the above behaviors, then it’s likely you have some worries and it would be beneficial to explore them a little.
Holistic preparation involves being ready for surprises and being brave enough to identify fears so that solutions can be found.
Move from fear to being free by examining your worries and finding some solutions. Take time to do the following exercise.
Write down all your secret worries and pay particular attention to the worries that create tension in your body. Now, explore each worry by using the following questions (from Birthing From Within):
- What would you do if this worry/fear actually happened? What do you imagine your partner or birth attendant would do/say?
- What would it mean about you as a mother if this happened?
- How have you faced crisis in the past?
- What can you do to prepare for or even prevent what you are worrying about?
- If there’s nothing you can do to prevent it, how would you like to handle the situation?
The good news is I can help too!
I am holding birth workshops where you can be gently guided through a process of ‘taming your tigers’ and overcoming birth worries.
Check out my antenatal classes here