03 Feb The Unknown: Conquering Your Fear of Giving Birth
“The Unknown” feels like it should be the title of a James Patterson novel. But joking about the fear of giving birth that many people experience doesn’t make it any less real, and most of our clients are worried about labor. The Unknown can feel overwhelmingly big and minutely small all at once. How will labor start? When will your water break, and will you even know when it does? Are you going to tear? Will you heal ok? Is your baby going to look like you? All of these things (and more) are part of the Unknown. So, how can you conquer fear of the Unknown and prevent it from consuming your thoughts in the final weeks of pregnancy?
Start by controlling the things that you can control. Like hiring a doula!
I’m sort of kidding about hiring a doula, but it’s true that we’re trained to help women in labor feel more comfortable and less afraid. If you work with a doula, you can lean on their knowledge, experience, and confidence, which will go a long way toward making you feel more prepared. Even if you don’t work with a doula, you can educate yourself about the options that you have and how to advocate for what you want. Simple things like going on a tour of the hospital and scoping out the parking situation can take little worries off of your plate. Each little bit that you remove can help alleviate some of the Unknown.
Once you’ve removed some of the little worries, you can start mentally preparing for different scenarios. What does that look like exactly? Well, that answer is different for different people.
For some folks, conquering a fear of giving birth means thinking about it LESS. If you find the idea of looking behind the curtain scary and overwhelming, don’t look! There is no need to continue to absorb information that is contributing to fear. So, you have our permission to just stop altogether and focus on a project. That could be putting together the nursery, going for walks, knitting a baby hat, or organizing the closets. Basically, distract your mind with more physical things.
Other people feel safer when they know all of the possibilities about what could happen. If you’re this type, surround yourself with stories. There are countless birth blogs, videos, and books that tell stories about all different kinds of labors. Focus on scenarios that you find your mind returning to over and over. Listen to positive stories about c-sections if you’re worried about surgery. I’ll tell you about all three of my inductions if you’re scared about those! Every type of birth can be positive and empowering. We love The Birth Hour podcast for positive birth stories at all types of different locations. If you have a doula, you can ask them to walk you through a typical birth experience at your chosen location, from beginning to end. Those of you without a doula, talk to your doctor or midwife about your fears at your next appointment so that they can walk you through triage, L&D, and postpartum! Knowledge can go a long way toward removing some of the Unknown.
Begin practicing acceptance of the process.
The sooner in your pregnancy you can acknowledge that you can accept the things that are beyond your control, the more effective that mindset will be at the end of your journey. Accept what is changing about your body. Know that your baby will be born one way or another, and your ability to control it is limited. Believe that you have controlled the things that you can. Release your expectations about the process of labor, even if you’ve had another baby before – every birth is different, after all. Acceptance is a difficult thing to accomplish. It will ebb and flow throughout your pregnancy, labor, and postpartum journey.
Try practicing a mantra while you work on acceptance. Here are a few of my favorites:
- “I accept that my body must grow and change as my baby grows and changes.”
- “I surrender to the Unknown.”
- “The present is the only moment I can control.”
- “I let go, and am present.”
- “I surrender to what is, and let love heal me.”
- “Breathe in calm. Breathe out fear.”
- “I can do this.”
Find a mantra that speaks to you, and begin using it. It’s never too late to begin the process of accepting the Unknown.
If you’re in the Pittsburgh area and want a birth doula to help support you, get in touch with us today.
About the Author:
Emily has been a birth and postpartum doula in Pittsburgh, PA ever since the birth of her first son, Ellington. Her birth experience didn’t go according to plan, but she had the support that she needed to make hard choices for herself and her baby. After that, she wanted to be able to bring the same empowerment that she felt to other birthing people.
For Emily, pregnancy and birth are life changing experiences regardless of the type of birth you wish to have. The journey of self-discovery and determination it takes to grow a baby, prepare for a baby and then birth that baby is incomparable to any other life experience. She believes that education and support are the keys to having a satisfying and empowering labor and delivery experience and is eager to help you along your own journey.
Emily lives in the community of Bellevue with her husband Sam, three kids (Ellington, Bowie, and Joni), her dog Didion, and cats, Harper and Truman. In addition to being a doula and childbirth educator, Emily is a dog trainer and owner of a local fitness studio, Joy in Movement.