scared of birth

Feeling scared of birth is very common and is not necessarily something to worry about. It’s a time of massive change so it’s normal for us to feel fear on some level. Fear gets a bad rep, but actually it’s a good thing. Our fear is alerting us to possible danger and this forces us to face up to the situation we’re in and take appropriate action to protect ourselves.They alert us to the things that we feel threatened by. Our fears help us to survive. They focus our attention on the things that NEED attention.

If you’re feeling scared of birth, Ignoring your fears or denying them is not helpful. Trying to bury them and hope they go away is also not helpful.

Instead you can use your pregnancy and birth fears to guide. By doing doing so you can learn a lot about yourself. And once you take the time to acknowledge them and face them, they become your friend. Why? Because they’ve shown you what you’re capable of achieving. And it’s this that gives us strength.

Problems arise when our fear response is a little out of kilter. When we experience a high level of fear or a phobic response, then our fears are no longer really serving us, but holding us back. They can change our thinking and limit our choices.

Whether you feel your fears are at the “normal” end – whatever that is – or at the extreme end, it’s possible to clear your fears and put them behind you.

What is it to be fearless?

When I say ‘fearless’ what I mean is that you’re no longer being controlled or limited by your fears. Yes, you are aware of them, but you’re in control of them rather than the other way round. You move forward despite them and they don’t hold you back.

This might mean that you can acknowledge them and put them aside. Or it could mean that you are able to overcome them so that they are no longer a fear for you.

Let’s take a fear of pain for example.

A lot of women who are scared of birth have this fear. When you’re fearful of pain, the very thought of it will probably trigger you in some way; make you tense up your shoulders or give you a sick feeling in your stomach. You’ll also probably be looking to take any measures you can to avoid you experiencing pain. This is what I mean by “limiting your choices”. Any situations that include possibilities of pain, will now be eliminated from your list of options. So, you might think – as I did – “I’m going to have a c-section because I can’t face the pain of birth”. Aside from the fact that c-section recovery is not exactly known to be pain-free, this is a choice driven by fear.

When you have cleared your fear of pain, you might still not like the idea of pain, but ’not like’ is a far cry from ‘hate’. In not liking it you’ll be much more able to accept that sometimes it’s going to happen. And, when it does, you’ll be able to take it in your stride.

If you have what is thought to be a painful experience, you’ll probably experience less pain than someone with a fear of it. We know this because science tells us that those with a fear of pain have a stronger experience of it than those who don’t. Scientists are able to demonstrate that that pain is mostly in the mind and is predominantly an emotional experience.

How can I stop being scared of birth?

There is a very important first step here that is rarely taken seriously and it’s this.

Decide to take action.

If you want to be free of fear it’s not enough to simply state this as a vague wish. Not only do you need to WANT IT, but you need to TAKE ACTION.

And taking action is not simply talking about your fears. If this worked, you’d be free of fear already. It doesn’t.

Your fears aren’t going to go away on their own.

Once you’ve made the commitment to yourself that you want to be free of fear, then it’s about doing “the thing” that will reduce and clear your fears.

So what is “the thing” that will free you of your fears?

4 Things you can do when you’re scared of birth

There are many ways you can reduce or overcome your fears. The best option for you will depend on a few things;

  • how strong your fears are
  • whether you feel you can do this on your own (you just need to know how!)
  • if you think you need someone to help and support you
  • how urgent this is for you

Here are some things you can do to be free of fear

1. Educate yourself on the thing you fear

Something as simple as getting savvy on the focus of your fears can help massively. This works particularly well for those with mild to moderate fears.

So, if you have a fear of birth, then learn about birth. Many women aren’t educated when it comes to birth and their fears are based on birth as it’s portrayed in the media. We live in a fear-based culture, so if this is how you’ve learned about birth, then its’ time to educate yourself. Start by watching birth documentaries or home birth videos on YouTube.

Like Jessie

“I’m trying to overcome my fear of tokophobia.

I think I might’ve unintentionally made a little progress today. I don’t remember how I stumbled upon it, but I began to watch some Pregnancy and Childbirth vlogs on YouTube. Surprisingly I think its helping, because I saw real women having their own experiences, and a clearer picture of what it’s like versus what you see in the movies, etc.

It’s like what I’m seeing in the vlogs is counter-attacking all of the negative scenes I’ve watched and visualise in my head based on stories I hear too. You can edit video, but the scenes don’t lie. What you see is what you get especially in those vlogs.”

This approach might not work for everyone though. Many women with tokophobia find birth education difficult as it can be very triggering for them. So if that’s you, tread carefully.

2. Seek support from a professional

I know, really obvious, right? But here’s the thing. Clearing fears is totally possible and there are lots of professionals out there who can help you. I help my clients do this all the time. Sometimes I clear their fears for them and sometimes I hold their hand while they clear them.

Find a therapist or birth coach who can help you to get past your fears.

3. Use a fear-clearance or emotional clearance technique

There are many emotional clearance techniques around for you to choose from and there are far too many for me to list here. They don’t all work in the same way and what works on one person might not necessarily work on someone else. Some require you to visit a professional and some have DIY versions.

My favourite is the Head Trash Clearance Method™. The reason why it’s my favourite is because it works. And quickly! I use it loads and it’s what my clients use.

Here’s what Claire says about it

“What’s even better is that I didn’t have to set aside hours upon hours to work through my fears.

When a fear popped up during my pregnancy I spent about 5-10mins using the head trash clearance method & the fear was gone.

It was incredibly empowering to know I could successfully rid myself of a fear in such a short period of time.”

If you want to try using the Head Trash Clearance Method™ then you can access it here

4. Take avoidance action

What I mean here is to make choices that mean that you get to avoid the thing that’s making you scared of birth. So, if birth itself terrifies you, then ask for an elective c-section. If pain scares you then decide to have an epidural.

I don’t personally recommend this because the fear is still there and has the potential to affect you again at some point in the future. But for some people it works and sometimes, you just have to do whatever it takes to get you through. For some people doing whatever it takes to free themselves of fear is too much. They prefer to just avoid the thing they fear.

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Alexia Leachman

Alexia is the host of the Fear Free Childbirth podcast and the author of Fearless Birthing, Childbirth, Midwifery & the Media, and Clear Your Head Trash.

Alexia supports families planning pregnancy and birth. She helps them to overcome their fears and feel calm and confident about birth and pregnancy.

Alexia also trains birth professionals in the Fearless Birthing, a unique approach to birth preparation that is ideal for those who have fears around birth.
Alexia Leachman
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