I’m scared of giving birth! What can I do? Help!

scared of giving birth

Bettina,

I found you on YouTube a couple of weeks ago. I’m 26 weeks pregnant with my first baby and I’m so scared of giving birth! My Mum and sister had really long, painful births and I’m worried I will too. Ive been doing your pregnancy yoga videos and they’ve helped me to calm down a bit but I’m just still so afraid whenever I think about giving birth. 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 if you’re afraid so how do I stop being so scared? Help! 

Sunny

Hi Sunny,

I definitely know what you mean. I was so scared of giving birth when I was pregnant with my first that I completely buried my head in the sand and pretended it wasn’t happening. My first piece of advice is – don’t be like me.

The best thing I ever did when I was pregnant with my second was to learn how my body worked during birth and what I could do to work with it. I remember feeling amazed at how perfectly our bodies are designed to birth. I couldn’t believe I didn’t know this first time round! Why had no one told me?!

Usually I tell pregnant women who are feeling afraid of birth to stay away from negative stories, but as you’ve already heard these from your family, you’ll have a little bit of extra work to do. Before you go into labour it’s important to work on releasing these fears and trusting that they are not your story. Just because your sister and Mother had a negative experience of birth doesn’t mean you also have to. 

What to do if you’re scared of giving birth

Journal about how you are feeling.

Don’t think too much about this. Just free write. The goal is to get those fears out of your head (and heart) and onto a page, so you don’t have to constantly think about them anymore.

Writing them out also helps you to make more sense of them. I often find when I write things down they don’t feel as big and scary as when they were rattling around in my head.

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? Obviously in your case it starts with your sister and Mum but are there other places as well? Movies of TV that you’ve watched? Books? YouTube videos? Where else have you absorbed this idea that birth has to be a traumatic experience?

Educate yourself.

Enrol in a birth education course that teaches you how your body works during birth. Your body IS designed to do this and birth education will give you everything you need to know to believe this. There are loads of options out there – Hypnobirthing, Calmbirth, Shebirths, or my own course Yoga Wisdom for birth.

See what’s available in your area (it’s always best to attend an in-person workshop so you can talk to other women who are also pregnant – I think you’ll quickly realise you’re not the only one feeling fearful). Or if there is nothing in your area find a teacher online who you resonate with.

Fill your brain with positive experiences and stories

You’ve previously been surrounded by negative stories. So while education will help you to start feeling less fearful, one of the best ways to move past the fear is to re-wire you brain with positive stories.

Watch hypnobirthing vlogs on YouTube.

Speak to friends who’ve had positive birth experiences.

Read positive birth stories online.

Fill your space with women who’ve had a positive birth experience.

Start believing that you can have the same.

Talk through your fears with someone.

Choose your person wisely. I don’t think your Mum and sister are the right ones for this job because they’ve already had such negative experiences. Pick someone who can objectively talk you through your fears and help you to pull apart fact from the story you’re telling yourself.

You could talk to a counsellor, a doula or midwife, obstetrician or even just a good friend. Anyone who is supportive of the type of birth that you want to have. Your birth hasn’t happened yet, so you have just as much of a chance to have a positive experience as any other woman.

Practice meditation.

Even after all of this, feelings of fear will probably come up again when you go into labour. Even though I’d previously had a beautiful hypnobirth with my second, I felt those feelings of fear come up again when my waters broke with my third.

Whether your fears affect your birth or not comes down to what you do when the fear comes up.

Do you let it overwhelm 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? This is why meditation is such a powerful tool to practice prior to birth. It literally teaches you how to breathe away thoughts as they come up.

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.

I didn’t realise I had so much to say on feeling afraid about birth! I hope some of this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions and best of luck with your birth – it will be amazing.

Love,

Bettina

I get so many great questions via emails that I thought I would start sharing some of my answers here on the blog. If you’d like to ask me a question feel free to shoot me an email here.

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