25 Sep Childbirth: Real Fears
Let’s be real. (because you know I’m nothing if not real)
We don’t hire labor & birth doulas because we feel amazing
about all aspects of our upcoming childbirth process.
We hire them because there is something or a few somethings
that we are unsure of, anxious about, or really fearful of.
Childbirth is one of those things -it must continue if we are to continue. We can choose whether we work on overcoming our fears of childbirth or not. And either way the support from your doula will help as you navigate your personal process.
For me, when expecting my babies, 11 & 16 years ago, there are three main things that I remember being afraid of about childbirth. My big three. (I did not know about or have a doula with either baby.)
Fear of unwanted interventions
With both of my babies, I had a real fear of being faced with unwanted interventions in a hospital setting. I believed they would increase my pain and make the experience of laboring and/or giving birth very scary overall. My fear helped me imagine things like:
- Mean nurses telling me what I could or couldn’t do
- Suffering for an unknown amount of time
- Injury to myself or my baby
In reality, my fear around unwanted interventions was uneducated at the time. Then, I did not choose to learn what really happens in the hospitals that were near me and my fears were based on assumptions rather than truth. I know that now. But boy, was that fear a big one then.
One of the highly valuable things we do as labor doulas is help you talk through and understand what to expect in your birth place of choice. We understand policies, protocols, and can help you navigate your choices & options.
Having the knowledge about what to expect can help you maintain control and feel prepared, which is what I was missing.
Fear of tearing during birth
Oh my goodness, was this one a problem for me. I remember literally thinking, “Ummm…a baby is a lot bigger than a penis or a tampon, people. How is this going to work exactly?” And the places my mind would take me were terrifying!
The idea of having an actual injury at my perineum was something I could hardly deal with. Nobody likes being in pain, but the thought of injury related pain there, had me really scared.
With my first baby, one of the clearest memories I have of the moments just before her birth, were of me with my eyes closed and hearing the hospital midwife (I think?) say, “Tell me if this feels good.”, followed by this warm-almost hot sensation landing on my ass. And it was GLORIOUS.
She had placed a warm compress on my perineum as my baby’s head was crowning. I believe it helped reduce tearing, but also, it was an incredible comfort measure in those moments and one that I love telling clients about today so that they can choose whether to ask for it also.
Fear of not making it to the hospital in time
This one came into play with my second baby. I had had an unexpectedly fast moving labor with my first and was very close to delivery upon arriving at the hospital with her.
So when deciding where to give birth the second time, I was concerned. The nearest hospitals were 30 minutes away, and my preferred place of birth was 45 minutes plus, away. I had visions of being the next one on the news, on the side of the freeway, ambulances screaming.
This fear was the primary thing that propelled me into planning a homebirth for my son. I hired a Licensed Midwife I trusted, who I knew to be very safe and conservative when considering emergency transfer scenarios, and I ran with it.
Today, I know that with more complete education and/or planning around all three of these fears, they could have been reduced for me.
What are your top three? I’d wager that with professional doula support, your experience would be less fear and more joy. Ready?
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