And with good reason! When we give birth for the first time, we are entering uncharted territory. Most of the time, when we do something for the first time we are at least a little scared–fear of the unknown. Add the unknown and countless unsolicited horror birth stories, plus all the unrealistic Hollywood movie scenes. Terrifying, right?
Fear can be a good thing. There is a fear that legitimately protects us from danger. It’s the reason we don’t run into the middle of the highway at night. But there’s another kind of fear that is not healthy. Our disconnect– which allows us to fear being judged, embarrassed, abandoned, neglected… So many of us spend our days walking around in the Stress Response (fight or flight) worried, paranoid, terrified something is out to get us. The same physical, emotional, psychological reaction we’d have if we were in actual danger. Our muscles tense (glutes, traps) jaw, fists clenched. We do not breathe properly. That’s to say all the way down into the belly. Most of us breathe only in the chest.
So first step, remember to breathe!
Fear can be a huge disservice in labour.
- The aforementioned Stress Response, tense muscles = more pain
- Adrenaline which naturally kicks in when we’re afraid, cancels out oxytocin (the LOVE hormone–you see, love really is the opposite of fear!) We need oxytocin to continue contractions and we need contractions to continue for the cervix to continue to dilate and for baby to come out
- Adrenaline can increase blood pressure and heart rate (as well as breath– remember, breeeeeathhhhe)
Fear can slow or stop labour.
It can be easy to ignore our fears in pregnancy. I have prenatal students who will bluntly say they’re refusing to think about their fears. About labour, baby, becoming a parent… I gently encourage those women and anyone reading, to spend time with those fears. Acknowledge your fears. Validate them. Deal with them! They are real!
We go into greater detail in my Yoga Birth Workshop and prenatal yoga classes, but I wanted to leave you withhttp://mamanaturale.ca/wp-admin/post-new.php this amazingly helpful exercise by Pam England, author of Birthing from Within, for dealing with fear in pregnancy.
- Write down all the things you hope won’t happen.
- Look your tigers in the eye. (Let your imagination flow into your fear.)
- Ask yourself: What do I need to do to tame or escape each tiger? (i.e., what will make my birth place safe?)
- DO IT! (Even if you are afraid.) Get help if you need it.