Help! I’m terrified of birth! What can I do?

I often get emails like the one below so I thought I’d share my answer here with you too. If you have a question you’d like to ask, feel free to send me an email.

Hi Bettina,

I found you on YouTube a couple of weeks ago. I’m 26 weeks pregnant and I’m terrified. Both my Mum and sister had really long painful births and I’m worried I will too. I’ve been practicing your yoga classes and they’ve helped me to calm down a bit but I’m just still so afraid whenever I think about. I really want to have a natural birth but I’m so scared of how much it’s going to hurt. I know you said birth can be more painful when you’re afraid but how do I stop being so scared? Help! 

terrified of birth

Hi Sunny,

I definitely know what you mean. I was so afraid of birth first time round I buried my head in the sand completely and pretended it wasn’t happening.

My first piece of advice is – don’t be like me and go in knowing nothing.

The best thing I ever did when I was pregnant with my second was to learn how my body worked during birth (and they literally are perfectly designed to birth) and then learn how I could work with my body to help it do what it needed to do. 

Usually I tell pregnant women to stay away from the negative stories of birth (you don’t need any extra fear in your brain at this time). But as you have already had the women around you telling you negative stories, I’d suggest you will have a little bit of extra work to do before birth to release these fears.

Your first task is start believing that birth doesn’t have to be painful and horrible like you’ve been told. And that just because your sister and Mother had a negative experience doesn’t mean that you also have to. 

What to do if you’re terrified of birth

Practice fear releasing meditations.

Meditation is such a powerful took to practice prior to birth. It literally teaches you how to breathe away negative thoughts and fear when it comes up. And even after doing a lot of work prior to birth, you may find that your fears still come up during your labour at some point.

That’s completely normal. Even though I’d previously had a beautiful hypnobirth with my second, I felt those feelings of fear come up when my waters broke with my third.

Whether these fears affects your birth or not comes down to what you do when the fear comes up. Do you let it overcome you and tense up your whole body? Or are you able to breathe through it (and breathe it away) so that you can get back into the flow of your birthing body.

Try this fear release meditation to help you to start practicing what it feels like to relax the body, even when fearful thoughts come up for you.

Journal away your fears.

Writing can be a great way to release negative thoughts and feelings. Don’t think too much about it. Just free write those fears out of your head (and heart) and onto a page so you don’t have to constantly think about them anymore.

Writing also helps you to make more sense of them. I often find when I write things down they don’t feel as big and as scary anymore. If you’re struggling to ‘just write’ the following questions might help to guide your journalling.

1.What are you specifically afraid of?

2. Write out your ideal birth. How would you like it to go?

3. How can you manage fear? What can you do to release the physical sensations of it when you feel it rise in your body?

4. Where has the fear come from?

Educate yourself about birth.

Sign up for a birth education course that will teach you how your body works during labour, why it is designed to do this and how you can work with your body to reduce pain. There are many different brands of birth education and honestly, it doesn’t really matter which one you pick. Just choose one that you feel drawn to.

I offer my own Yoga Wisdom for birth course here on my website if you can’t find one in your local area. I do think it’s best to attend a local course though if you can (that way you can talk to other women who are also pregnant -and quickly realise you’re not the only one feeling fearful).

Read / watch positive birth stories

Unfortunately most of us have grown up believing that birth = a horrible painful experience. We see it on TV and movies. Women red faced and screaming as they give birth.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Birth doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. It is intense but you can manage it.

The first step though is to believe it can be another way. You have to change your mindset about birth.

Watch hypnobirthing vlogs on YouTube.

Speak to friends who’ve had positive birth experiences.

Read about positive birth stories online.

Fill your life with women who’ve had a positive birth experience so that you can start to believe that you can have the same.

Talk through your fears.

If you decide to talk through your fears with someone choose your person wisely. Your Mum and sister are not the right choice in this instance because they have had such negative experiences themselves and may not have the perspective to see that you can have something different.

Pick someone who can objectively talk you through your fears and help you pull apart fact from story. Your birth hasn’t happened yet so you have just as much of a chance to have a positive experience as any other woman.

If you don’t have a close friend to talk to about this you could visit a counsellor (maybe even me), talk to a doula or midwife, or even your obstetrician if you feel that he / she is supportive of the birth you want to have.

So I didn’t realise I had so much to say on feeling afraid about birth This response ended up so long!

I’ve also previously made this video below about why you need to stop listening to horror stories about birth. I hope it helps.

Best of luck in preparing for your birth and make sure you let me know how it goes once your beautiful baby is here.

Bettina xx

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