Fear of Labor and delivery :
Advice on how to have a fearless birth
I was going to do this one as part of another blog post, but I figured it’s probably better to tackle this fear with a blog post all its own. For many mothers there is a fear of labor and delivery which may grow as you get closer to your due date or may have been an issue since the very thought of having a child sparked in your mind. Some of you have no issue with birth, but are looking for extra advice to have the best possible experience.
Whether or not you are facing fear in this area, the following pieces of advice that I received during my first pregnancy will be helpful to you as you keep walking on this beautiful journey. Mama, you are braver and stronger than you think!
This advice comes from the original Wonderwoman herself, my Mom. She reminded me of this over and over again during my labor whenever I fought to control my breathing or whenever I was getting too tense. The power of breathing techniques is that they train your body to relax during surges. The more relaxed you are, the more work your body can get done during each contraction, the more oxygen is able to get inside and help the birthing process.
Now, mind you, I was louder than my mom was during her labor (and don’t feel bad about making noise), but I did feel the difference when I was relaxed compared to when I was tense. I also had to make the quality decision NOT to be afraid when I realized I was transitioning into the pushing stage. After all, what was I going to do? Stop the labor? As if! So I decided to relax, not think about it and just focus on the moment; letting my shoulders droop, my hands loosen and allowing my breath to carry me.
All You've Gotta Do Is Show Up
This priceless piece of advice came from a coworker. She was so excited for me when I told her I was pregnant, and then we started talking about birth (she’s a mama of 4). And she smiled and said, “Girl, all you’ve gotta do is just show up. Your body will do the rest.” So true. So simple.
I repeated that statement to myself anytime I started to get into my head too much about birth. At the end of the day, all you really need to do is show up. Just be there. Just be present. You will be amazed at how much of a pro your body is at having a baby, whether you are a first time mom, or you’re on your eighth child. Take a breath Mama, relax and put some trust in your body. The Designer of your form did not fall asleep when he created you. You can very much do this.
Ask Your Healthcare Provider Questions
Both my sister-in-law, and my primary midwife encouraged me to ask questions. Hannah (my sister-in-law) suggested that I make a list of any questions that came to mind and ask the midwife for extra time before the appointment so that I could have a conversation with her about what I wanted birth to look like. Easy, you say. Not so much for me… For whatever reason I often give people who I think are “experts” the benefit of the doubt. I’m not trying to seem smarter than them by questioning their knowledge.
I had to get over that with my midwife.
After some procrastination and un-answered questions going round and round in my mind, I finally decided to make that list and send it to my midwife in an email at 1am. She knew I was really concerned about my list purely by the time of morning that I had chosen to send it… and we had that discussion. The conversation helped me solidify what I wanted my birth experience to look and feel like and what I could expect from my healthcare provider. It took away a lot of anxiety that I had about what she would be doing during my labor. I learned to bring questions to her regularly. I also learned how to politely but assertively say no to tests that I did not feel were necessary (after doing the research).
Set Up the Environment
I learned this one from watching birth vlogs and reading positive birth stories. The environment you are in during the birthing process is very important. This is a huge reason I chose a home birth. However, if you are not comfortable with a home birth, you can still bring items to the hospital or birthing center you will be at to make your surroundings more relaxing or empowering or whatever you need them to be.
I gave birth in my old bedroom at my parents house and I had sent a list to my parents about what I wanted and how I wanted the room (and washroom) to be set up. I also had a set up at my home where I wanted to labor from for a little while. When I first felt consistent contractions, I set up the living room (while hubby was asleep). I lighted candles, kept the large lights off and played acoustic worship music. Then I walked up and down the living room or got onto all fours, or leaned on the couch during contractions. I knew I wanted to keep moving. I also prayed and sang while I moved and I noticed that the more I sang along and really took in the words of the songs, the less I noticed the surges.
When I was at my parent’s house during active labor (especially in the washroom) the bathtub was set up for me and that worship music literally became a life-line. I just sooooo needed it to bring that sense of calm into the moment. I took off the lights in the bathroom and had candles lit as well. The memory of that peace still fills me with warmth to this day and I was able to nap between contractions and actually dream because the environment was so accommodating.
Have Your Support team With You
Uhm, yes, DEFINITELY YES. I learned this from a YouTuber. She really explained how important it was for your support team, especially the father of your baby to be with you and do his protective thing in such an intimate and vulnerable moment for the mother. So I was big on confirming and re-confirming with my husband that he would be by my side through the whole thing. At first he was not too keen at seeing the graphic birth of his firstborn and all the intensity of the labor and delivery. But as I went through each trimester, he warmed up to the idea. He ended up blowing my expectations out of the water with how amazing he was during the whole process and how steady he was for me, even when I was having a hard time.
If you don’t have a husband, or if you are on your own, your support team might be your parents, friends, (your medical team should be a support to you, not an added pressure), or even pets. My mom was pretty much my Doula. She did not let me falter but gave me constant affirmations and lots of hugs especially through the surges. My dad was a support too (even though he was not in the room) because he was playing his guitar and singing in the living room downstairs. It was just something special for me to hear my dad singing and playing, and it brought a smile to my face and even helped my midwife as well. I also called my bestie during contractions and she said the words I needed to hear in a way that only she could say it. And I knew. I knew I wasn’t alone.
And that’s why I do this, because I don’t want you to feel like you’re alone.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received for a fearless birth? Comment below add it to the list!