For my entire life, I felt fear towards childbirth. I have always been scared by the idea of the pain of childbirth, to the point that I delayed even contemplating having a child. On top of my fear of childbirth I was
Convinced my body would be ruined, not that I particularly had a body to be ruined. When I did at any point consider becoming a parent I secretly harboured a desire to give birth in water but I assumed I would end up having a c section, however my experience in my 40’s was so far from that, I am almost angry with society for leading me astray and delaying becoming a parent.
After a comment from my midwife about trying hypnobirthing which, at first I dismissed thinking I am not susceptible to hypnosis. But of course, my only experience of hypnosis was a theatrical performance in my childhood hometown of Scarborough. It took a book from the library, to understand I could manage natural birthing. The title (Baby Moon something or other) didn’t appeal to me, but it was the only book they had about pregnancy and childbirth. From there I taught myself Hypnobirthing breathing and recorded my meditations and visualisations.
Where does fear of childbirth come from?
Fear and anxiety about childbirth come from how our culture has led us to become accustomed to view birth. So primarily when we have had no involvement with birth in the past, our only understanding comes from movies and stories we hear from our friends and families. Our schools don’t teach us that our bodies are designed for natural childbirth. The majority of births in the UK are now conducted in hospitals, or midwife led baby units only 2.3% in the UK opted for home births in 2012 and 2013, the majority of these are not first-time births. There is increased incident of medical interventions during births conducted in a hospital even in low-risk first-time mothers.
Different cultures approach childbirth in different ways.
This, of course, is the western concept of birthing, other cultures approach childbirth in very different ways. While talking about my birth in Canada my mother always includes a story about a Native American Indian woman, who gave birth without fuss or assistance in a corridor of the hospital before even being taken to the labour ward. My Mother had been in the labour ward for what seemed like and probably was hours. I think she could have assumed that the Native American woman had special skills or experience.
When you hear a birth story, they tend to be negative.
As humans, we naturally have a negativity bias. We are attracted to what is negative it is what has allowed us the survive for thousands of years. Some people even consider the experience of extreme pain in childbirth as a right of passage. In fact despite having had an extremely positive natural birth which I have expressed to many people I have only been asked and told my story to a handful of people.
Good news about Fear of Childbirth
If you are experiencing fear of childbirth, there is great news, of those in a study who undertook training towards a positive, mindful birthing the most positive outcomes was found in those who were experiencing fear before the beginning of the training. This was suggested to be due to the mothers addressing the issue and putting in place measures to deal with the fear and anxiety.