Fear. It's a common response when thinking about the unknown. So it's no suprise that fear is commonly associated with birth. There are no formulas on exactly what to expect during labour or a linear guide on the perception of pain. We can plan and prepare, yet there will always be beauty in the uniqueness of how it unfolds, just as each body is unique, so is birth. So how do we manage this fear without having fear control us?
Try treating your fears with curiosity instead of judgement.
Try to sit with your fear and allow curiosity to bubble to the surface.
Why do I fear childbirth? What areas of birth bring me fear? Where does that fear come from?
Instead of stuffing your feelings or resenting them, allow them to tell a story. Maybe fear is present because of your mothers story of childbirth. Maybe fear is there because of years of infertility or miscarriage. Maybe you fear that you have to birth a certain way to prove yourself to all the skeptics. Whatever the reasons, write them down and use them to re-write your own story.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but your ability to rise up and conquer it.
Courage takes place when we move beyond the crippling and paralyzing notions that fear creates, to a place of resiliency and empowerment. I CAN do this. I AM strong. I AM enough. It doesn't take away the unknown, but it liberates us with the power of showing up. Courage is not the absence of fear, its your ability to rise up and conquer it! Courage might mean addressing your fears, or finding a safe space to process them, it might be boundary setting or affirming your strengths.
What does it mean to show up or address my fears?
Find a safe space to address your fear
Whether its a professional counsellor, your partner, or a doula, find a safe space to talk about your fears. Oftentimes, just expressing and putting words to your fear(s) can release the power they hold.
Journalling is a great way to organize and understand your thoughts. If you fear birth because of someone else’s horrific birth story, write your own positive birth script. Who is there? What sounds do you hear? What scents and comfort measures are you inviting into your birth space?
If you fear birth because you need to do it a ‘certain way’, what would it look like to tell yourself it’s ok to create a plan and it’s also ok to change that plan whenever you feel you need to?
Take a childbirth class
This is an important one. Childbirth classes help you know what to expect during labor, and birth and the recovery process, as well as strategies for managing pain. Classes are also a fantastic way to connect with other pregnant individuals. Its a powerful reminder that you're not alone.
Consider your birth support team
Setting yourself up for success with a great birth support team is important. Consider hiring a doula and choosing a care provider that practices informed decision making/informed consent/informed refusal and follows compassionate care.
If friends are telling you traumatic birth stories, or giving you unsolicited birth advice, kindly ask that they allow you to form your own narrative and your own birth story. You can ask that they wait until after your birth before they share stories.
Remind yourself how powerful you are
Write down affirmations that you can go back to when fear surfaces. Remind yourself just how powerful you are.