Pregnancy and new motherhood can bring on many different fears in women. We may struggle with the uncertainty of when and how we will deliver. Maybe our greatest fear is if we’ll be able to be a good, loving mother once our baby is born. What’s important to keep in mind, no matter what your fears are, is that you’re not alone in this. Coping with so many unknowns is a completely normal part of the birthing and new motherhood experience — this is an overwhelming process, and it’s only natural to have fears about it!
The good news is that there are actionable ways to release our fears and cope with uncertainty. Connecting with your inner self and surrendering to what’s out of your control can cause beautiful, life-changing transformations in your birthing and mothering experience. Want to find out how we can work together to assuage your fears? Read below to learn more!
What are some common fears for new or expecting birthing people?
- Fear of not knowing if you are in labor and what it will feel like. Your pregnant body brings many sensations, especially as labor nears. Sometimes it is hard to know whether it is a contraction or not; sometimes the sensations come and go and sometimes early labor lasts a long time. Your doula can help you understand where you are in labor and tease out what is labor and what is a “warm up.” You can prepare for childbirth with classes so you are more informed on what to expect.
- Fear that the pain will be unbearable. We’ve all heard horror stories about the birthing experience that may make us afraid of what’s to come. It’s common for women to have fears around tearing, the physical pain associated with pushing or cesarean deliveries, and more. Unfortunately, pain is a part of the birthing process, but it’s important to know you have tools and support around you to lessen pain in whatever way feels right for you. Perhaps this is breathing and movement techniques shared by your doula or some medical pain relief options—maybe even a combination of multiple tools.
- Social pressure to birth in a certain way. Unfortunately, there are many preconceived ideas in our culture about what giving birth is “supposed” to look like. Women may feel concerned about if their preferred birthing experience is the “right” one. However, it’s important to keep in mind that no two women are alike, and neither are two birthing experiences. You have the right to choose the birthing experience that fits your needs — at the end of the day, it’s your body and your desires that matter!
- Not trusting the body’s ability to give birth. Giving birth demands a lot of us, and it’s natural to wonder if our bodies are up to the task. The truth is that our bodies are much, much stronger than we give them credit for!
- Fear of the birthing environment and/or the people in it. You might have concerns about the physical environment of your birthing experience, or the people taking care of you / witnessing the birth of your child. Speaking with a doula or other healthcare provider is a great way to talk through these fears, while allowing your support system to create the optimal conditions for your birthing experience.
- Fear of your birth ending a certain undesired way. Some people may get attached to a certain outcome. For instance, you may want to avoid a cesarean birth at all costs. If you hold onto that outcome too hard and fear it, it may end up stalling labor. I addressed this fear during a long induction that was stalled. After addressing the elephant in the room and an emotional release, the labor progressed quickly and ended vaginally. Focus on the journey and not the outcome, as you cannot control how your baby comes into this world.
- Fear of losing control during birth. This is a very common fear, which can manifest in a number of different ways. For example, some women are afraid about pooping while they give birth. This is a completely normal experience, one that doulas are trained to handle! We will assure it is cleaned up quickly and discreetly; and we’ll spray lavender to help maintain a peaceful environment.
- Fear of becoming a parent and not being ready. Many birthing people may wonder if they’re fully prepared for a life of parenthood, which can result in a build-up of anxiety and fear in the body. While motherhood comes with challenges, you are never in it alone — you have a support system of healthcare professionals, friends, and family surrounding you that will help you become a wonderful parent to your child.
- Fear of being exposed, vulnerable, or too loud in birth. You may worry that your pain will cause you to show a side of yourself that you’re not comfortable showing; perhaps you feel worried about coming across in a way that will make you and others uncomfortable. Everyone uses different vocal sounds to cope with the labor waves and they are all unique “labor songs.” There’s no one “right” or “normal” way to act during the birthing experience, and the truth is that your body is doing something incredible — people around you will most likely be in awe of your strength!
- Fear that our birth experience will be like someone else’s hard birth experience. Unfortunately, everyone likes to tell you about horrific birth stories either they or someone they know have encountered. Please work with your boundaries during pregnancy to shut down any story before it becomes negative. This is true with family as well. If your own mother had a difficult and/or long birthing experience, you may fear that your own birthing experience will be similarly challenging. Just because a family member had a stressful birth doesn’t mean that your experience will be the same—you have tools at your disposal to make the delivery experience as smooth and peaceful as possible.
Why is it important to alleviate fears before giving birth?
A build-up of fear can cause tension throughout the body, which may result in more pain when you give birth. In turn, the excess pain produces more fear, which can create a vicious cycle during the birthing process. Fear and anxiety also triggers adrenaline production, which may cause stalling the birth process. The attitude and peace of mind you bring into the birthing experience can make a significant difference in your pain level and the ease of delivery.
How can we cope with our fear and uncertainty surrounding the birth experience and new motherhood?
At Holistic Family Doulas, we’re committed to helping birthing people uncover and rediscover their innate power in order to be the strongest, healthiest, and most positive versions of themselves. We completely understand that pregnancy, delivery, and new parenthood can be overwhelming, and we want to help support you in coping with your fears and concerns. Here are some of the ways we can work together to release your fears before you give birth:
- Write down your fears. Sometimes acknowledging our fears is half the battle. By putting words to what we’re most afraid of, we can process our fears out in the open, ultimately opening the door for us to release them back to the universe. Your birth doula can help talk you through your concerns, imparting her wisdom from years of facilitating births. You can also develop a positive affirmation about your body’s strength as a way of flipping the script on the fear you’ve named. For example, if you’re afraid that your body won’t be able to start labor on its own, you might counter this with the affirmation: “I trust my body knows what it’s doing and that my baby will know when it’s ready to be born.” You may find it helpful to symbolically destroy these fears, either by burning them or tearing them up. This process of writing down our fears is known as “fear clearing,” and can be incredibly healing as we move through the pregnancy and birthing experience.
- Track how your fears evolve. It’s likely that your fears will shift over time, shedding light on how you’re processing your upcoming birth experience and new motherhood. By keeping tabs on which fears fall away, which linger, and any new fears that emerge, you have the opportunity to keep your doula up to date on how you’re doing emotionally and mentally. This alignment between you and your doula is a critical part of ensuring you have the support you need during your pregnancy, and also that your birthing experience is as positive as possible.
- Use healing practices like Reiki and meditation. Reiki is a form of energy healing that can help to decrease your fear and anxiety, bringing your body back into energetic alignment. Meditation encourages you to bring attention to your thoughts and body sensations, allowing you to both acknowledge and gently release tension you’re carrying. Your doula can use one or both of these practices to help balance your energy, release fears you’re holding onto, and loosen emotional blockages. Creating mental and emotional peace is crucial to the birthing process.
No matter what your fears are about birthing and parenthood, we’re here to support you in alleviating your concerns, and helping you to find a state of inner peace. Do you have fears you’d like to release or concerns about being calm for the birthing process? Wondering how a doula can help you be less scared and feel more confident while giving birth? Feel free to reach out to us here to discuss how we might be able to help.