Labor is painful. There is no sugarcoating that. But did you know fear and tension can worsen the pain we experience in labor? There are several things that can serve as a source of fear and tension when it comes to preparing for labor, and experiencing labor. Knowing how to identify fear and how to cope with it is an important step in preparing for childbirth.
F is for Fighting.
For a lot of women, the thought of having to fight for things they want in labor can be a big source of anxiety and fear. Picking a birth facility that aligns with your desires for birth is a great first step in reducing fear surrounding labor and birth. Private or group childbirth education classes are also useful as they can address your concerns and answer your questions about unwanted interventions. And during labor, your doula can help you and your partner work through the decision making process when it comes time to decide whether or not to use or decline an intervention during childbirth.
E is for Emotions.
“What if I don’t bond with my baby right away? How can I possibly love another child as much as my older child? Is there enough of me to give to multiple children?” Emotions are strong in pregnancy and can spill over into labor. Your doula is a huge asset to you, not only in labor but in pregnancy as well. It is ok to feel however it is you’re feeling. Utilize her to confront and explore these emotions and remember: We’ve all doubted ourselves in some capacity… but you are strong and capable, and we believe in you!
A is for Anxiety.
Many women experience anxiety about giving birth. There is fear of the unknown, and often times self-doubt; “Can I really give birth? Can I really breastfeed?” Maybe you have a friend or family member who experienced a traumatic birth and you keep replaying those events in your head thinking the same will happen to you. Acknowledge the anxiety. Educate yourself and reach out to loved ones and other support people and remember that your experience is yours and will be unique to you.
R is for Resentment.
“What if things don’t go as planned? What if I regret a choice I made while in labor.” Thinking of the what-ifs that can happen during labor and birth can be a huge source of fear for some women. Ask yourself what your goals are, and work with your partner and midwife or OB to come up with a plan. Your doula can help support you if things don’t go as planned, and she will remind you that you’ve made the best choice for yourself and your baby. Many women find comfort, empowerment, and strength in making choices and having control, even if those choices are less than ideal.
Fear is normal but you can acknowledge it and use it to help you prepare and learn.
Your professional doula is ready to support you as you work to overcome your fears in preparation for childbirth. And even if it lingers, your doula is ready to help you cope with it, by using specialized training and skills to ease the pain and make you as comfortable as possible.