In the article "Why Is the Fear of Birth Rising" written by Sam McCulloch in the Spring 2017 Pathways to Family Wellness edition, the main focus is deciphering why so many women today are afraid to give birth.
As a new mother of two, I can attest that the perils of labor and delivery are no easy feat. Each one of my sons' birth stories is vastly different, and each took their toll on not only my body but my mental fortitude as well. Both of my boys were delivered naturally, without any interventions, meaning, no epidural, pitocin, or even IV of fluids. This is not to toot my own horn, it was just the way I chose to deliver my babies.
After each experience, I can completely understand why some women [those whom are not only first time Mom's, but, also, those who have had multiple children] are worried about the event to come. No two births are alike, and there are many factors that play into the birthing process that can truly make anyone's head spin.
McCulloch discusses the History of Birth Fears, that theorizes the reason behind why this uneasiness behind the natural birth process is rising, and she claims it comes from all angles. Between stories from mother's and grandmothers, all the way to modern day media with TV shows like One Born Every Minute that amplify the shock value of childbirth and glorify the medical interventions that are seemingly necessary in every episode.
I for one, agree, that today's media impact on women and their ability to birth a child is huge, and devastating. However, this isn't a new mindset. Growing up, I myself use to watch TLC's A Birthing Story and remember fully committing myself to having a scheduled C-section for my children. Due to the fact that I am so petite, I figured there is no possible way I would be able to have kids naturally. This was when I was 16 years old, and many many years away from starting a family of my own. Yet, because of the overwhelming onslaught of negative stigma towards MD Free childbirth, and it's dangers coming from every angle, I had already lost trust in my own body's ability to do what it was designed to on it's own.
What happens when we approach birthing day with fear?
Fear innately stimulates our Sympathetic Nervous system, which, controls our "Fight and Flight" reflexes. An increased sympathetic tone within a mother's body during delivery can lead to a vicious cycle of:
- Increased perception of pain; which many theorize is the reason why Mother's call out for an epidural
- Decrease in the body's ability to perform; other wise described as the body "freezing" up, which could be the cause of lack of dilation, or, lack of or decline in rate of contractions leading to the assumed need of pitocin or other cervical dilators
- Increased blood pressure in the mother
- Fetal distress; the presence of meconium or decrease in fetal heart rate which may, in return, be cause for an Emergency C-Section.
So essentially our own fears of birth, can potentially be the cause of the trauma we do not wish to encounter in the first place. Luckily for me I was exposed to a vastly different culture 10 years later. I was encouraged to believe and trust in the fact that my body was made to not only create life, but to birth and nurture and raise it as well.
Through my experience, and from what McCulloch suggests, there are many factors that can reduce the fear of birth, and allow women to have a pleasant, exciting, and even enjoyable experience on their birthing day.Our biggest suggestions would be to:
1. Find a support group: Doula's, Midwifery Teams, Natural Parenting Groups etc that both you and your partner can connect with to ease the fears of the unknowns. Or, if this is your second or third child, share the methods and measures that can be taken to make this birth different from the last.
2. Educate yourself: There are many classes that may be provided through your local hospital, and it doesn't just stop at Lamaze! Classes such as the Bradley Method or Hypnobirthing are other great options to really prepare you for what is to come. The more you know, the better prepared you will feel. The more prepared you and your partner feel, the more in control you can remain throughout your pregnancy, labor, and delivery! I myself personally took a Hypnobirthing Course and LOVED it!
3. Prepare: Have a game plan, and make sure your entire team is on board. This includes your partner, OB, Doula, Midwife, etc. Don't worry if it all doesn't go exactly as envisioned, just know, you have options and always have a say in what it is you want out of YOUR birth.
4. Remember that it is YOUR birth: You are in control, and as a woman, you have been beautifully and wonderfully made to be equipped with all of the natural processes you need to birth a child. The less you interfere with your body's innate ability to birth, the easier, more peaceful and more enjoyable experience you will have.
It may seem odd, but I am at all with myself, and how much I was able to accomplish between the births of my two boys. For both it was absolutely a labor of love, and I was able to overcome hurdles I didn't think I could. they have been life altering and enlightening experiences. I feel more empowered and stronger as a woman for what I was able to do, and I believe all women should have the privilege of this feeling.