Fear of childbirth can be too gripping for women at several stages. Some women lose their sleep imagining a difficult and painful labor. Some might fear the due date as it approaches fast. Some women fear that something bad might happen to them or their newborn. Women might also choose to have a C-section to avoid the pain of natural birth. The fear of childbirth is called Tokophobia. It’s not only this – several women go into postpartum depression. But is childbirth so fearful? Should you lose your sleep over the fear of birthing? Let’s try to understand the causes of the fear, how you can deal with them, and what this world-famous midwife has to say in the following video:
1. What incites fear of birth among women?
Of course, the fear of pain is always there. But there is more to it. Most of the fear comes from what women watch on TV or the internet whereby a childbirth might be overdramatized. The horror pregnancy or labor stories as passed on by friends because with similar experiences might contribute to the fear. As per studies, at least 10% of women suffer from tokophobia in Sweden alone.
As per a Danish study as published in BJOG in 2008, fear of childbirth might be more prevalent among women who are less educated, young, or unemployed, or among those who smoke or have a poor overall health. Women who have a history of depression, anxiety, marital problems, sexual abuse, or low self-esteem might also suffer from tokophobia.
2. Fear might affect your pregnancy and postnatal period:
Fear could get in the way of a mentally healthy pregnancy. Your fears and anxiety could affect your baby too. Because of the anxiety during pregnancy, you might eat less, have insomnia, high blood pressure, headaches, and lower immunity. The fear might also contribute to unnecessary C-sections, preterm labor, or delivery complications. It might also have an impact on the relationship that you share with your family or the people around you. Also, tokophobia could put you at a higher risk of postpartum depression.
3. What can you do about the fear?
You might want to jot down what exactly you fear and try to analyze it with a close confidante or a therapist. Some of the following factors could cause concerns and here’s how you could deal with them:
It’s the most obvious concern. But you can tackle it by taking to breathing exercises or alternative relaxation methods such as Lamaze, Hypnobirthing, or Bradley method. Don’t be ashamed of asking for seeking pain-management if you need it or sign up with a hospital that has round the clock in-house obstetric anesthesia staffing.
B. The possibility of a C-section:
It is better not to elect a C-section. Opt for a natural birth instead. You might want to discuss with your doctor that they could resort to a C-section only in case of a medical emergency wherein a C-section might turn out safer than vaginal delivery.
C. Just letting go (or can you?):
Birthing is not an experience where you will have any control. Even your screams or the accidental poop during labor will not disgust your medical team.
D. Fear of tearing:
If you have a fear of tearing, then remember that controlled pushing and changing positions in labor can help avoid tearing.
E. Fear of fetal distress or birth defects:
You doctor is there to take care of the situation in case of fetal distress. When it comes to birth defects, know that only 3% babies are affected. (1) The rest of the babies are born healthy. Also, the routine scans would have already given an idea that your baby is growing well inside you. Plus there are birth screening tests that will help detect a rare disorder if any, to take early measures to deal with. But then, birth defects are rare.
4. Tips To Overcome Fear Of Birth:
- Turn off the TV shows that overdramatize childbirth. Don’t look at childbirth videos on the internet that might scare you.
- Don’t entertain family or friends who share their bitter delivery experiences.
- Don’t imagine things.
- In case of psychological issues, seek help.
- Meditate. Relax. Practice yoga, alternative relaxation methods as discussed above, deep breathing, and keep your thoughts positive.
- Have warm baths and leisure walks.
- Have moral support from family and those whom you rely upon.
You might also want to watch the following video of what the world-famous midwife, Ina May Gaskin has to say about curbing your fear of childbirth.