I want you to stop right here… before you go any further I want you to notice what your very first thought is when I say the word BIRTH.
Do you think of something scary? Something out of your control? A peaceful experience? Holy experience?
Congratulations, you were just mindful! Women experience a range of emotions when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. They often vary between scared out of their mind and extremely excited. First time moms often gravitate more towards being scared of childbirth as there is a factor of the unknown.
Related Post: 35 Things Expectant Moms Should Know About Childbirth
Is it Normal To be Scared of Childbirth?
If you’re a woman in her third trimester and you’ve been getting more and more scared of childbirth as it draws near, you’re not alone! Almost every single mom has experienced fear in childbirth and honestly, it doesn’t go away after the first time.
I just had my third child and I was probably more scared the third time around than I was with the first. During your first pregnancy, there’s a fear of the unknown. You have no idea what to expect so you don’t know what the pain is going to feel like, how long it’s going to take, or what’s supposed to happen.
However, after you’ve already experienced it, you just know too much. You know how painful it is, you know how long it takes, and you know about the recovery afterwards.
It doesn’t get easier leading up to childbirth, but I can tell you that it’s all worth it!
What is Tokophobia?
Tokophobia is simply put, the fear of childbirth. However, Tokophobia is characterized by extreme anxiety and depression related to childbirth.
Most women exhibit some fears, but don’t let it take over their thoughts and body. If you are experiencing an extreme, debilitating fear about your impending birth, speak to your healthcare provider about it. This can be a true mental health condition so you wouldn’t want to not take it seriously.
How to Become Less Scared About Childbirth
Although the only way to get over being afraid of childbirth is to actually get it over with, there are certainly ways to cope before then.
3 Mindful Steps To Take
If you identify with these feelings of fear, I am going to give you 3 practical steps you should take to become more mindful and less scared about childbirth. You’ll be well on your way to a blissful and empowering birth experience.
1. Dream and Decide
If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know how to get there? When you know your end goal, you can match the decisions you’re making with the expectations that you have during pregnancy and birth.
First thing you need to do when you’re scared of childbirth is to dream about the birth experience you would like to have. Ask yourself these questions:
- What is the atmosphere like (dark, light, loud, quiet, scents)?
- Who is there with me (husband, partner, friend, mom, sister, doula, doctor, midwife, residents, nursing students)?
- What are you feeling? (Quiet, peaceful, scared, excited, in your own little world?)
- What is going on around you? (Hectic, rushing, calm and peaceful?)
- Where are you? (Hospital, Home, Birth Center in the bath, a pool)
Now that you have pictured your ideal birth, your decisions need to match that. Writing down what you have imagined is a powerful exercise to make what is in your head a reality. There is power in putting things on paper.
Talk with your baby about what you want your experience to be like. You two are a team. You are working together to bring baby earthside.
The first decision that will be imperative in getting the birth you desire is hiring a provider who understands and has experience in the type of birth you want. For example, you wouldn’t hire a OBGYN with a 66% c-section rate if you are wanting a totally natural water birth. That decision wouldn’t match your expectations.
2. Education and Empowerment
This step can feel overwhelming and like too much work, but I promise that it is worth it! Women who experience a phobia (fear) of childbirth (tokophobia) or women who are generally uneasy about the experience can benefit from feeling in control of what is happening.
Instead of going into childbirth and things happening TO you, you will be the one calling the shots. In order to know how to do that you will have to do a bit of research into what normal physiological labor looks like.
This is where childbirth classes come in. Your local hospital has some classes, but I recommend taking a private class from a doula or an online course, such as The Empowered Mama’s Birth Guide. You will learn how your body was designed to work and the many options you have during your labor and delivery.
When you know what normal is you will start to trust your body and know when something doesn’t feel normal. Remember, every woman was made differently, but this will definitely help if you are scared of childbirth.
Your body may work differently compared to your best friend’s and that means there is a WIDE range of normal when it comes to pregnancy, labor and delivery.
The empowerment comes in when you are aware of your body, your rights, and your decisions. When you understand informed consent and informed refusal you will start to see that you do have more control than you think.
This is when you will realize that birth can be a transformative experience into motherhood, instead of one full of unknowns and dread. You are strong and powerful mama!
Hiring a doula to help guide you through your pregnancy, provide you with evidenced based information, and give you hands on support during labor is a great way to calm your fears. You don’t have to go through this experience alone!
In fact, childbirth used to be a community event where women supported women! We have lost that in today’s culture and so doulas have had to step up to take that role. You were meant to birth in a safe community and environment. Choose your birth team wisely.
Related Post: How I Managed the Pain Through 4 Natural Childbirths
3. Follow Through & Mindfulness
Just when you think that you can’t go any further and you are stretched to your limits is when you find how powerful you actually are! In this step, I want you to focus on mindfulness, comfort techniques to use during labor, and experiencing the fullness of the transformation into motherhood!
Mindfulness is described as:
“a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
This takes practice to achieve and get really good at but a small step to take during pregnancy is noticing when you have a fearful thought. I want to walk you through a quick exercise:
Fearful thought enters your mind ———-> Pause, say it outloud ———> Say “delete,
delete”——-> replace with a positive affirmation.
Some women find relief from a fear by journaling. They write down the fearful thoughts on a piece of paper, trace it back to when they first heard that fear or maybe felt the same feeling before, and then they destroy the paper as a symbolization that the fear has no control and it is gone.
Birth affirmations are another tool used to rewire those neural pathways in the brain that have been formed over the years of hearing negative birth stories and watching movies and tv shows with scary renditions of birth.
An affirmation is a positive phrase/mantra that can be repeated daily to replace the fearful thoughts you may have. Placing these birth affirmations around your house, in your car or at your work can be a constant reminder of positivity.
Your beliefs start with a thought that is repeated over and over. When you capture your thoughts and make them positive it will slowly change your beliefs about birth.
Some examples of affirmations are:
- My body is working exactly the way it’s supposed to!
- The pain is not greater than me because it is me!
- My body is relaxed and I am at peace.
- Everything I need is inside of me.
If you are still scared of childbirth, don’t feel like you have to stay there! You can rewire your brain and change the beliefs you have about birth. You can have a blissful experience and a childbirth without fear no matter how it all turns out! You are in control mama.
If you are looking for a tribe of like minded women to support you through your pregnancy come join me in the private facebook group at The Empowered Mama’s Birth Tribe. Empowered women empower women!
Other Helpful Tips to Cope:
- tell your healthcare professional how you feel and talk about specifically what you’re afraid of
- talk to someone you trust such as your partner, friend or family member
- Make a birth plan so you feel more in-control
- Try a prenatal yoga class to help you relax your mind and body
- Try hypnobirthing to learn coping strategies while in labor
- Don’t listen to other women’s birth stories if they don’t have anything positive to say
- Educate yourself on how to prepare for labor so you’re not clueless
- Choose a birth partner who can keep you calm and bring you reassurance and positivity
Aly is a wife of 5 years to her hunky dread headed husband, mama to 2 beautiful girls, a nurse and doula on the side. She is the owner of Birth Bliss Beyond Collective in Omaha, Nebraska where she and her team serve women by providing birth and postpartum doula services as well as birth photography. She is known for letting her passions and beliefs guide her. Gut follower and birth lover, she is seen many times at the side of a laboring mom encouraging instincts over intervention. Her knowledge of the woman’s body and love for all things birth has driven her to empower woman by sharing ancient wisdom and integrating it into modern society.