Don't get sucked in by 'Fear TV'... giving birth is completely normal
It's totally understandable that most women have some degree of fear and anxiety around labour and birth. It's worth taking a little time to think about where you get our fears from and what you can do to reduce them..
Our beliefs about birth are formed at a young age and often come from unexpected sources
Before I had children (and discovered hypnobirthing) I had three sources of information about childbirth. The first a quote from my mum who said childbirth was like "shelling peas". This must be a Lancashire thing (translation: "easy"). Second was C4's "One Born Every Minute" which was new to TV at the timeand watched religiously by me, as this was seen as "education". The third, Daphne from Neighbours on her back, tights still on, giving birth.
I think it's fair to say the above left me with a slightly confused picture about what childbirth was all about. It's worth taking some time to think about where you get your own beliefs from. Is it TV or film portrayal, horror stories from friends or family or stories in the press? Chances are they are not positive and we absorb this information, take it on board as truth. It has a real impact on how we start to feel about our own forthcoming birth.
What impact does fear have?
Whether a woman goes into labour feeling anxious, or something happening to make a woman feel scared during the birth, it can have a negative impact.
Women are mammals and we have evolved over millions of years to need certain conditions to be able to labour effectively. Somewhere we feel safe, that's private, that's low-lit and quiet. These conditions allow the release of the hormone oxytocin, which is responsible for stimulating contractions.
If a woman's nervous system is triggered to release stress hormones (catecholamines) they will stop the production of oxytocin. Contractions will then slow, or stall as the woman has gone into 'fight or flight' mode. You can't have relaxation and adrenaline going round the body at the same time.
How to reduce fear?
There are lots of practical things you can do to reduce fear during pregnancy and help prepare for birth. These are some of my suggestions;
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. Educate yourself about how the body works to your advantage during the birth, understand a little about hormones, especially oxytocin.
- Think about environment, how can you make the place where you choose to have your baby as relaxing and as personalised as possible?
- Think about friends or family who have a positive story to tell, hold onto these.
- Find out what makes you feel relaxed (yoga, massage, meditation, hypnobirthing) and practise these techniques during pregnancy.
For more tips about relaxation during pregnancy and birth, click here.
To book onto my one day August or September hypnobirthing workshop, click here.