If you’re pregnant for the first time, I’ll bet you have been told some harrowing tales about childbirth. Some people just love drama! There’s nothing more exciting for some people than a horrible birth story to share with others.
NO WONDER YOU’RE FEARFUL!
In our society, we have been conditioned to be fearful of labor and birth. According to TV shows and movies, childbirth is an over-dramatized disaster unfolding. The message you get? Be afraid. Be very afraid of childbirth. It is a very dangerous proposition. In Stephen King’s novella, The Breathing Method, a character says,” Believe me; if you are told that some experience is going to hurt, it will hurt. Most pain is in the mind, and when a woman absorbs the idea that the act of giving birth is excruciatingly painful – when she gets this information from her sisters, her married friends, and her physician – that woman has been mentally prepared to feel great agony.”
But the drama you see in those shows has nothing to do with reality and everything to do with drama. Why on earth do some people have more than one child if it’s such a horrific experience? I don’t want to denigrate those who do choose to have “one and be done”. There can be many reasons to make the choice to have only one child. But fear of childbirth and traumatic birth experiences shouldn’t be one of those reasons. Your birth experience can be a beautiful experience.
This acronym FEAR, below, explains how parents-to-be are conditioned to be scared when it comes to childbirth.
- F – You have been FRIGHTENED by stories you have heard, things you’ve seen depicted on TV and in movies.
- E – You’ve been told ERRONEOUS information, inaccurate, untrue, and false information about pregnancy and childbirth.
- A – As a result, your ANXIETY and fear of the unknown create such APPREHENSION and possibly physical trauma and symptoms.
- R – This information is REDUNDANT, REPETITIVE, wrong, and harmful.
No wonder! I have had more than a few of my prenatal yoga students reveal to me that they are so afraid that they haven’t signed up for a childbirth class. It seems easier just to do whatever the doctor says. But it’s better and safer for you and your baby to have an idea of what you’re heading into. Having that knowledge will help you be an active participant in decisions that may need to be made for you and your baby.
29 years ago, I was one of those women who was afraid and uninformed. I was definitely in denial about my fear. I had no idea how scared I was until I got informed. I am so grateful to the people who told me to take a Bradley Method class. My first response was, “What’s a Bradley Method class? I’ve never heard of it.” Well, I believe God sent those messengers to me. And, oh boy, am I glad I listened. The Bradley Method changed my perspective and helped to change my life.
So, let’s take this second acronym for FEAR and see if we can turn this around.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU TAKE A CHILDBIRTH CLASS?
You can change your perspective and replace your fear with knowledge. Take your fear and turn it into something positive.
- F – FULFILLED by education and knowledge
- E – ENGAGED in the process of learning and new possibilities.
- A – ANTICIPATE being parents. Foreseeing a positive experience.
- R – REALIZATION that labor and birth are normal processes and don’t have to be a medical procedure.
Believe it or not, some women don’t experience contractions as painful! I’ve had students who said it was intense, but they wouldn’t describe it as pain. Others have said it was painful yet it wasn’t something they couldn’t handle. I think that’s because many people associate pain with suffering. When one feels anguish, out of control, or tormented, they are suffering. ”Suffering is the degree of resistance we have toward our pain.” If you are prepared and knowledgeable, it reduces the chances of feeling out of control and distress.
Amazingly, the same hormone that our bodies release when we have an orgasm, oxytocin, is the same hormone that causes uterine contractions. Oxytocin is also known as the “Love Hormone.” So those belly hugs are your body’s way of stimulating your baby and releasing the love hormone into your baby’s bloodstream.
- P – PAIN has a purpose. Those contractions stimulate the mom’s body to release stress hormones which stimulate your baby’s immune system. The belly hugs also spur your baby’s circulation so that more blood goes to the brain, heart, and kidneys, making the baby more alert after birth. The pituitary gland releases oxytocin, the love hormone, and also endorphins, your body’s natural pain killers.
- A – ANTICIPATED. Labor usually starts slow and is rhythmic. Labor that begins on its own and isn’t interfered with by medications rarely lasts more than 24 hours. It’s predictable. You know when the next contraction is coming because they are rhythmic and intermittent.
- I – INTERMITTENT. Contractions come and go. You get a break in between.
- N – NORMAL. Labor and birth are normal physiological processes.
It’s never too late to start your childbirth class, but if you can begin in your 6th month, you’ll have plenty of time to be prepared. Here are some books you can read or listen to to help you prepare for an amazing birth experience.
Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Birth Partner by Penny Simkin
Natural Birth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon