Most people think that when you have fears around pregnancy and birth that your fears are related to pregnancy and birth. But the truth is that they’re not.
Sure, a small amount of fear might be directly related to the process of pregnancy or birth – birth complications, c-sections etc – but in the most part, birth and pregnancy fears have nothing to do with birth or pregnancy.
In fact, the fears that come up for women around pregnancy and birth are regular human fears…. fears that affect every human being (men included). It’s just that pregnancy and birth is shining a light on these fears. Pregnancy and birth is forcing women to confront these fears. This is why we think of them as pregnancy and birth fears, but they’re not really. It’s only once we understand this, that we can begin to overcome our fears around pregnancy and birth.
If your fears are not related to pregnancy and birth, what are they?
For us to better understand these fears, it can be useful to think in the context of themes, rather than specific fears. That’s because these themes are pretty universal and affect all of us.
In my work with women in helping them to overcome their pregnancy and birth fears, there are key themes that emerge time and time again. While these themes are consistent, how they manifest or show up isn’t always consistent. After all we’re all so different.
The key themes of pregnancy and birth fears
Here are the main themes that I see time and time again in my work with women.
Control is the most prominent theme in my experience. As humans we like to be in control because we believe that being in control keeps us safe. So anything that threatens our ability to stay in control is going to be the source of fear for us. Having your body taken over by nature and changing dramatically over a period of nine months is one such situation, which is why it’s a key theme and source of fear for so many.
The challenge when it comes to birth is that you need to let go of control while also remaining in control. This paradox is a challenge for many as they struggle to see how it can be possible to let go of control while at the same time remaining in control. The reason why this is so hard to achieve is because of the anxiety and fears we have around not being in control.
Once you clear your fears around control, not only is the idea of not being in control so terrifying, but you’re able to hold both positions (being in control and NOT being in control) at the same time.
Pregnancy and birth is huge time of change on so many levels. Not only physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, but also in terms of your relationship, your self-identity, your status or role in society, your ability to maintain your professional status, your life trajectory, your health… the list really goes on. It has the potential to change EVERYTHING in your life.
No wonder the change theme is so prominent for those facing pregnancy and birth. It raises questions around how we feel about the future and how ready we may or may not feel for such a change, whether we’ll cope, and simply the discomfort that comes from not actually knowing how things will pan out.
Change is the only thing we can depend on in life, but if the idea of change is difficult for you, then pregnancy and birth will present challenges for you in the form of fear and anxiety.
The pregnancy and birth journey is full of decisions. Big decisions. Decisions that if you get wrong could have a huge impact on your life. From the decision whether to be a parent to the decision around the kind of birth you want, and everything in between. A lot of carry anxiety around the decisions we face and they affect our ability to make them.
This is why so many women feel stuck when thinking about planning for a family. One one level they want a baby and a family, but yet there is so much there to consider, and when you add fear to the mix, it makes it hard to think through the decisions clearly.
Medical fears crop up a lot, understandably, given the potential medical nature of birth. Things like pain, blood, having injections or being in a hospital environment provides lots of potential for fear. Of course these aren’t just fears for those facing pregnancy or birth, everyone has fears like this. Medical fears often cross over quite heavily with health anxiety and fears… the next theme.
Health anxiety is something that comes up a lot for those facing pregnancy and birth. This understandable given the impact that pregnancy and birth can have on your health. If health anxiety is something you suffer with in day-to-day life, then it will be exacerbated by the prospect of pregnancy or birth. The thought of being ill or sick, not being able to cope or suffering with health problems are just some of the ways that this can show up.
Again, given the strong link between pregnancy, birth and the body, this is a common theme that comes up. This might be around the idea of having a bump, your body changing, perhaps irreversibly due to pregnancy or birth, or even the fact that any changes that might happen will be difficult to predict or be in control of. This theme crosses over with some of our previous themes: control, change and health. When we are worried about our body changing, this can be a combination of losing control (of a body that we had worked hard to tone up by going to the gym, for example) with uncertainty (around how our body might change or recover) and health worries.
This merging of themes happens a lot as part of fear clearance work. It’s difficult to draw clear lines of separation with all of these themes because our mind simply doesn’t work like that. Our fears are connected to others and we need to unravel all the connections and identify the different threads. Only then can we clear our fears and anxieties one-by-one successfully.
Pregnancy and birth
Finally we get to the most obvious theme that we expect to find: pregnancy and birth. As I said earlier, these make up the smallest amount of fears. Women often come into fear clearance having identified fears such as tearing or labour complications, and find that those things simply disappear on their own as a result of clearing their fears around health, change, control, or whatever themes are strong for them.
There are of course other themes that come up for people, but these are the most common.
If someone is struggling with severe stress, anxiety or OCD, then they will have many more themes that will need to be explored. Other themes might include
- relationships and how they relate to others
- their people pleasing tendencies
- how they feel about vulnerability and perceived weakness
Trauma is also a key consideration within all of this because some fears might have their roots in a traumatic experience. If you’ve experienced any traumas related to pregnancy, birth or your health then it’s important to bring this into this clearance work. I would recommend working with a professional if you have suffered a traumatic experience.
What does this mean for getting rid of your fears?
Once you’ve come up with the key themes that in play for you, you need to identify the individual fears and anxieties within each of them. Each theme might include anything from 2 to 10 different things that need to be cleared. It really does depend on you and how you feel.
Don’t assume that if your fear around pregnancy and birth are strong that you have lots of fears and anxieties to clear. It could be that you have a handful of very strong, intense fears.
How many fears and anxieties will you need to clear?
This varies massively between people. Some people have a handful of fears they want to get rid of, perhaps around 5. Whereas others will have around 20 things.
To give you a sense of how many clearances you might need to do, here is an indication of the typical number I come across as a result of working with women in helping them to lose their fears and anxieties.
- Mild to moderate fear: 5-10 clearances
- Moderate to strong fear: 10-20 clearances
- Strong to phobic: 20-40 clearances
If you have general anxiety as well then you might need to add another 20-30 clearances to this if you wanted to reduce your anxiety as well as your fears around pregnancy and birth.
Are you ready to get rid of your fears?
This is an important question because not everyone is. I know many, many people who know that they are fearful or phobic and yet struggle to take the first step in getting rid of their fears. This is because your fear is strong and is protecting itself. Well, it’s protecting you. Your fear believes it’s protecting you and will do whatever it takes to stay in place, including sabotaging your efforts to get rid of it. If this is you, then you simply need to push past this. I realise this is easier said than done, but that’s what it takes. This is where working with someone pays dividends; they will get you started on your fear-clearance journey.
OK, so let’s say you’re ready to crack on, now what?
I’ve come up with some options for you to make this as easy as possible. I mean practically speaking, because emotionally speaking you might not find this easy – for the reason I’ve just mentioned. But at least if you just have to follow some simple steps, it makes it easier to get through some potential tricky parts.
Pregnancy and Birth Clearance Pack
I’ve compiled a definitive list of clearances from all the themes I’ve just shared with you. This clearance pack contains everything you need to do clear 30 of the most common fears I’ve come across in the work I do in helping women to overcome their birth fears.
You can find out more about the Pregnancy and Birth Clearance Pack here.
As I mentioned earlier, our fears and anxieties present themselves in themes, and these themes are unique to us, even though there are some that show up consistently. So while this clearance pack is a great place to start, it might not include all the things that you need. For that you might need this….
Do you want access to lots of themes and lists of clearances?
If you want to access a vault of clearances organised by theme, then I’d like to invite you to consider joining the Clearance Club. The Clearance Club is a vault of 100s of clearance mantras and clearance audio tracks organised by theme. Each theme contains between 4 and 12 clearances that typically show up for that theme. Each theme also shows you which themes are related.
This is to help you to move forward with your clearance even if you’re not 100% sure which things you might need to clear. Sometimes seeing them in lists is enough for you to spot what fears and anxieties resonate with you. It’s like you see it and think “Gosh yes, I have that going on! I’ll clear that too”.
The Clearance Club contains all the themes I’ve shared here and many more including COVID, parenting, planning a family with more themes being added every month.
Find out more about the Clearance Club here.
This is a subscription which means you pay per month for access to the vault for as long as you want it. So you stay for as long as you need to clear your fears. Another way to help you to get going and not faff about wasting time.
If budget is important to you, then you could join and clear everything you wanted to in one month and then leave. Or you can take your time. it’s entirely up to you.
- How partners can support women during pregnancy & birth, with Souvereign - 22nd August 2022
- Scared of birth? Fear is not the only problem. - 1st December 2021
- How to clear your fears yourself - 28th May 2021