The Problem with Fear in Childbirth
Fear surrounding childbirth is very common in modernized societies. There are lots of reasons for this. Women have usually never seen a birth until they are the main participant, so there's a lot of mystery surrounding what really goes on during the process. Women are told horror stories about the births of their relatives and friends, so they assume their own births will be just as painful. The medical world brings tons of unnecessary interventions into the modern birth, which makes everything take longer and become more - not less - painful in the long run! These are only a handful of the reasons that modern women fear childbirth in a way that women over the centuries have never done before.
While it's normal to be a little apprehensive of the unknown, the fear surrounding childbirth can be a huge problem for mothers-to-be, and one of the best things a pregnant woman and her support people can do is to learn as much about healthy, natural birthing practices as possible. It's been shown through studies that women who are more mentally prepared for the birthing process are less likely to be afraid and are more likely to have fast, easy, relatively pain-free births!
What Fear Can Do
Fear can have all sorts of negative effects on the human body, since it is primarily a hormonal reaction, as all emotions are. However, fear during childbirth can be particularly detrimental. Here are a few reasons why:
- Women who are afraid of labor pains are more likely to be tense during contractions, which increases their amount of perceived pain. The increase in pain often increases the fear, which makes the whole process snowball out of control.
- Labor actually progresses more slowly when a woman cannot relax because she is afraid of the process. Sometimes fear or other emotional blocks will actually keep a mother from dilating naturally until she works through the emotional problem.
- Fear often leads women to automatically take on medical interventions, such as IV drips and epidurals. These interventions can lead to problems for the mother and the baby, as well as more interventions and an increased risk of a Cesarean section.
- Women who are afraid are generally less likely to have a positive birth experience that they can look back on with awe and appreciation. These women may not remember that their bodies are made to give birth to babies, so their lack of confidence in themselves and their birthing experience may end up leading to lack of confidence in other areas of life, as well.
What You Can Do About Fear
If you find yourself becoming apprehensive or afraid of childbirth, there are lots of different things you can do to alleviate fear. Here are a few:
- Write about or talk about your feelings. The first step to letting go of a feeling of fear is to really feel that feeling and then to allow yourself to realize that it is, after all, just a feeling - over which you really have complete control.
- Get more information on preparing for pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Read good books, such as Healing Our Children, which is full of information on how you can boost your odds for a quick and natural childbirth.
- Practice relaxation techniques you can use during labor and delivery. Breathing techniques, meditation, hypnosis, and movement techniques are all good options to keep your body and mind relaxed during labor, which can help alleviate feelings of fear in the moment.
- Work with support people who can help you with relaxation techniques like massage and acupressure during labor and delivery. Support people can also ease fears simply by being available to do whatever you need during labor.
- Talk to other moms who have had good, healthy pregnancies and deliveries. While no two labor and childbirth experiences are alike, it's helpful to hear from others who have had natural and wonderful experiences giving birth to their children.
Working to alleviate fear before and during childbirth can give mothers a better chance at having a natural, safe, and fast childbirth. Women who have less fear have lower perceptions of pain, even, so it's definitely worth your while to work through your childbirth fears before you go into labor!
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