In this episode of Fear Free Childbirth, I delve into the topic of anxiety and how it affects pregnancy. As someone who has personally experienced anxiety during my own pregnancy journey, I understand the importance of addressing and overcoming these fears and anxieties.
Anxiety and Pregnancy
Fear and control are significant themes in anxiety and tokophobia, which can intensify during pregnancy due to the numerous unknowns and changes that occur. The fear of uncertainty and the feeling of things spiralling out of control can be overwhelming. I discuss how this fear primarily exists in our minds, until a real threat is encountered.
During labour, fear can arise if things are not going well, while anxiety is present before that point. Our fear radar can be influenced by society’s fear messaging, making it challenging to distinguish between real threats and imagined ones. The past few years have been filled with fear messaging, but not all of it has been based on reality.
In addition to the fear of pregnancy and birth, I explore how fears and anxieties can manifest in other aspects of life, such as health, relationships, parenting, work, and our professional life. I explain how patterns of conflict around control and letting go can impact multiple areas of life, and how addressing and healing these conflicts can lead to positive ripple effects.
I also share my personal journey of overcoming fear of judgment and fear of losing social connections, which can cause hesitation in having children. I explore how fear of judgment and indecision can lead to procrastination in various areas of life, resulting in poor sleep quality and increased tiredness during the day.
So, if you’re experiencing anxiety during your pregnancy journey or simply want to understand and overcome fear in different aspects of your life, this episode is a must-listen.
Here are some of the questions that I explore in this episode:
- How does the fear of uncertainty and change impact anxiety during pregnancy?
- What are some common fears and anxieties that women experience during pregnancy and childbirth?
- How does fear messaging from society affect our ability to distinguish between real threats and imagined ones?
- What role does fear of judgment play in anxiety around pregnancy and parenthood?
- How can conflicts around control and letting go impact various aspects of life, including pregnancy and childbirth?
- How does anxiety and fear of judgment affect decision-making and procrastination in other areas of life?
- What are some strategies or resources that can help women overcome fears and anxieties surrounding pregnancy and birth?
- What are some potential consequences of prolonged anxiety and fear during pregnancy, such as poor sleep quality and reliance on stimulants for energy?
- How can tokophobia, the fear of pregnancy and childbirth, impact a woman’s journey and choices during pregnancy
- What can be done to increase awareness and understanding of tokophobia, and support women who are experiencing it during pregnancy?
Resources mentioned during the episode
During the episode, several resources were mentioned to help women overcome fears and anxieties surrounding pregnancy and birth. These resources include:
1. Fearless Birthing group: This Facebook group is focused on pregnancy and birth-related questions and concerns. It provides a supportive community for women to share their experiences and seek guidance on overcoming their fears using my fear clearance method, Head Trash Clearance.
2. Clear Your Head Trash group: This Facebook group is for anyone dealing with non-pregnancy related issues such as relationships or work. It offers a space to address fears and anxieties in various areas of life and to get support in using Head Trash Clearance.
3. Fear Free Childbirth courses and meditations: Fear Free Childbirth offers various courses and meditations specifically designed to assist women in overcoming their fears and anxieties related to pregnancy and childbirth. These resources provide practical tools and techniques to navigate the emotional challenges that can arise during this journey.
4. Fear Free Childbirth Mama Ship: The Fear Free Childbirth Mama Ship is a subscription-based program that provides access to a variety of on-demand content. It includes courses, meditations, and other resources to support women throughout the pregnancy and birth process.
5. I am writing a book on Tokophobia, which aims to shed light on the condition and provide information and support for women experiencing it.
00:01:54 Writing book on tokophobia to raise awareness.
00:06:16 Anxiety from unknown threat on dark street.
00:08:46 Women experience anxieties and fears around birth. Anxiety arises from imagined threats, while fear is triggered in the moment of an actual threatening situation. Our fear radar can be distorted due to constant fear messaging in society.
00:11:09 Anxiety and fear: what’s happening inside your head.
00:16:30 Lack of sleep affects mental and emotional state.
00:17:18 Anxiety keeps you trapped; tackle it gradually.
00:20:34 Fear and conflict impact all aspects of life.
00:23:40 Fears and conflicts hinder productivity and decision-making.
00:28:00 Fear of control and change during pregnancy.
00:32:06 No shortcuts in childbirth; feeling trapped.
00:33:18 Conflicts, fears, hormones affect pregnancy emotions. Deal with anxiety for easier pregnancy journey.
00:37:08 Unraveling anxiety knots for peace and control.
00:41:14 Addressing anxiety improves pregnancy-related fears & outcomes.
00:44:16 Confront fear, embrace happiness, live fully.
00:46:59 Head trash group for non-pregnancy related questions.
Anxiety and Pregnancy – Episode Transcript
You’re listening to the Fear Free Childbirth podcast with me, Alexia Leachman. Let me help you to take the fear out of pregnancy, birth, and beyond with a mix of real life stories and experts sharing their wisdom. I’ll also be sharing psychology insights to help you to cultivate a fearless mindset, be inspired, and be empowered with fear free childbirth. And now it’s time for the show. Hello and welcome back to the Fear Free Child this podcast. My name is Alexa Leachman, and thank you so much for joining me today. On today’s show, I’m going to be diving into the topic of anxiety in pregnancy. This is a really important topic because so many people are wrestling with anxiety and fears during pregnancy, and I think it’s really important for us to get clear on what that is and what it looks like.
So that’s what I’m going to be doing today, is talking about what anxiety is, how it looks like, actually looks like inside your head, and how you can go about clearing it, getting rid of it, moving past it. But before I dive into that, I just have a few little updates I want to share with you. Now, for those of you that are interested in the Tokophobia Clearance Group, I’ve had a few emails from people wanting to join, but I’m afraid the doors have now closed because we’ve now started working. So the Tokophobia Clearance Group is a five week program where I take a group of women through the process of clearing and confronting their fears and conquering them and getting over them. So we kicked off last week, so it’s too late for you to join. But if you are interested in joining next time I run the group, then it is possible to reserve your spot for the next opening, which will be later on in the year. So if you’re interested in doing that, then you can head over to the Fearfreechildbirth.com website and just look for the Tokophobia Clearance Group page, which you’ll be able to find on the Work With Me page or the Tokophobia page. It’ll be easy to find.
So that’s all about the Tokophobia Clearance Group and then sticking with Tokophobia. I just want to let you know that I am writing a book on Tokophobia, and I’ve started it, and I’ve started doing lots of research because I know that there’s very little information out there on this condition. And not only do women who are suffering from it really want to find out more, really need to find out more to better understand what it is that they’re dealing with. But also, I think professionals would appreciate understanding the condition more as well, because there’s very low awareness about tokophobia, whether it’s among GPS doctors, midwives, or therapists, all of those places are the first port of call where women might go to to get help and support. Many people don’t know about it. So this is what I hope to do with my book on tokophobia is to help to shed a light on what the condition is all about, what women experience when they’re going through it and how they can start finding ways of getting past it and overcoming it. So if you’re interested in that, then I’ll be sharing some more updates on the progress I’m making as I work through writing the book, and you’ll be the first to hear when it’s ready to come out. Okay, so I’m now going to get back to today’s episode, which is all about anxiety and how that shows up in pregnancy, or at least how it shows up when you’re planning pregnancy as well.
I mean, all of us suffer from anxiety to some degree, and so I think this is a really important episode for us to dive into and to help you to better understand. Okay, so let’s dive into anxiety in pregnancy. And so what I want to talk about here is what is I want to dive into what anxiety is so that we can understand and we’re all on the same page. And then the difference between anxiety and fear, because these words are often confused and I think we use these words interchangeably. And I think it’s useful for when we’re trying to wrestle with our anxieties and wrestle with our fears to be super clear on the difference between the two. Because when we are clear about that, it makes it much easier for us to get the help we need. And then once I’ve done that, I want to talk through what anxiety actually looks like. Like, really, what is the experience of anxiety and how you experience that in your head.
I’m not talking about, oh, the panic attacks and the difficulty sleeping and all that stuff, but actually what it looks like inside your head. And then I’m going to really explore on what well, how does that look like when we’re pregnant and during the pregnancy journey and how does that impact on pregnancy. And then finally, I want to share with you how you can get rid of your anxiety, like a roadmap out of anxiety. Okay, so that’s what I want to talk about. So let’s dive in. Now, as I sit here talking about anxiety, I’m sure you are familiar with anxiety because I think it’s something that we’ve all experienced at one time or another. It’s estimated that around about 284 million people worldwide experienced an anxiety disorder in 2017. That is a large amount of people, which makes it one of the most prevalent mental health disorders on the planet, and it’s one of the most common of mental disorders, and it’s going to affect nearly 30% of us at some point in our lives.
So I’m sure as you decided to tune into an episode on anxiety, that this is something that you’re very, very familiar with. And the thing is, even though these disorders are treatable, and I’m going to talk about that later. Only about a third of those experiencing anxiety are actually getting adequate treatment, which means a lot of people are wandering about, are living their lives overcome by anxiety. So what is it then? Let’s get clear on what it is. Now, I thought I’d dig out some definitions because it’s always useful to ask the experts and see what their view is on these things. And so I found a definition by some authors called Kaplan and Sadduck, and they define anxiety like this. They say it’s a diffuse, unpleasant, vague sense of apprehension. And they also say it’s in response.
It’s often in response to an imagined imprecise or unknown. You know, what does that mean? I’m sure that does make sense to you, but I love to put things in kind of pedestrian terms. And so while we’re making it pedestrian, imagine that you are a pedestrian walking down a dark street at night, and you might feel that you’re a bit apprehensive and maybe you’ve got butterflies in your stomach, or you may be feeling this overwhelming sense of dread. And if you’re a woman walking at night, this is a common experience. I get this all the time because I don’t feel safe walking at night as a woman because that’s just the world that we live in, okay? As sad as that is, that’s a fact of life. And so when I’m going down the street, this dark street, feeling apprehensive, wondering if there’s anything lurking in the shadows, these are the feelings that are caused by the anxiety that are related to this possibility that there might be a nasty stranger that might just jump out of the shadows from behind a van or in a dark corner or whatever it is. And so it’s because there’s a possibility of that happening. But the anxiety that I might be experiencing in that moment is not because of a known or a specific threat.
It’s just because we don’t really know if there’s a weirdo lurking in the corners about to jump out, but we imagine that there might be the possibility of a weirdo that might jump out or somebody that’s got sinister intentions. And so all of this is really going on in your head because you’re imagining that there might be something that might happen. And you might kind of say, well, I am going through a really dodgy part of town, and this stuff happens all the time, and it happened to me two weeks ago, and blah, blah, blah, blah. So it is a known well, maybe. But actually, until that threat is realised and until it’s actually in front of you, it is just imagined. And then the minute there is a scary figure that turns up and starts threatening you or whatever it is, then fear kicks in because fear is the emotional response to a known or a definite threat, like a specific thing that’s happening to you. And so if you are walking down your dark street and then suddenly somebody does appear from behind that rusty old van and then they start holding, coming up to you and then looking threatening, then in that situation you will then be experiencing fear. And so I think that’s a really good place to start.
Because actually, when there are women that are experiencing, they say they’ve got fears around birth. A lot of the time these are anxieties. Because until there’s an actual threat that’s facing you around birth or pregnancy, and when I say threatening you threatening your sense of safety, then it’s going to be an anxiety, because you’re just imagining that this might happen, that something might happen where there is an imagined outcome for the future. Whereas fear is one that’s triggered in the moment when we are actually faced with a threatening situation. So if you’re in labor and suddenly things look like they’re unraveling and not going great, then suddenly fear will kick in because then you’re actually in a situation there that might not go brilliantly, whereas up until that point it’s really going to be about anxiety. And the thing is, this can get a little bit fuzzy or a little bit of a gray area because often our fear radar is a little bit out of whack. Because we live in a society where there is fear messaging around, fear that is constantly hitting us from all sides and we’re constantly hearing about these situations that make us feel fearful for our life. And we’ve been living through a period for the last three years where there’s been a lot of that going on, but in many cases some of that hasn’t actually been real.
We’ve made to feel fearful and been told about an imagined outcome of an imagined possibility. And so actually what we’ve been experiencing in those times has been anxiety. But because fear and anxiety produce very similar physiological reactions, that’s to say that your body feels the same whether you’re experiencing fear or anxiety, then this is where this confusion comes. We’re not really sure what is it that we’re experiencing because they kind of feel the same. And so this is where a lot of that blurring can come in, where we’re not really sure. And so this is where this interchangeability of the language comes in. Am I fearful or am I anxious? Am I experiencing anxiety. What is it that I’m experiencing? And thankfully, it doesn’t really matter when it comes to getting rid of our fears or anxiety, especially using the approach that I use.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a fear and anxiety because the process, the approach of healing, that is the same. And I’m going to dive into more of that later, but I think it’s important for us to be clear about the difference between anxiety and fear. So let’s dive in then to what anxiety looks like. And what I mean here is what does it actually look like inside your head. I know that when we talk about some of the symptoms of anxiety, we talk about things like maybe panic attacks coming up, or you have difficulty sleeping, or you have IBS and digestive issues. So these are kind of like telltale signs, right? But it’s not really what anxiety looks like, because I’m interested in what’s going on on the inside of your head. If I’m trying to help you to let go of your fear and let go of your anxiety, I’m not interested in the fact that you’re not sleeping well, because that doesn’t help me heal you. What’s going to help me heal you is to take a look inside your head and have a little rummage around and see what’s going on.
And that’s what I mean by what does anxiety look like? So I’m just going to sort of give you some examples now of what anxiety could look like for somebody. And when I go through this, I think you’ll appreciate how overwhelming anxiety can feel. I mean, if you’ve got it, you’re going to know this already, right? But when I kind of lay it down for you, you’ll be like, oh, my God. No wonder this feels so exhausting. No wonder I can’t sleep at night. No wonder I don’t know I can’t find a way out of this. But don’t worry, because by stripping it back in this way, hopefully I’ll help you to just get a bit of clarity on what the hell is going on with your anxiety so that you can strip it back and start to heal it. Okay? So let me sort of let’s this is an example of how this might be showing up for you.
So let’s say that you hate losing control. You don’t like being out of control of stuff. You don’t like losing control of situations, because on some level, you can’t stand chaos. Chaos makes you feel unsettled. You need things to be totally organised. You need to know what’s going on. You need to plan things to the Nth degree. And so this need for planning, this need for organisation, this need for things to be in order, is because you hate chaos.
And the reason that you hate chaos is because you hate not being in control. And because you hate losing control, because this sense of being in control is what makes you feel safe. So therefore, these things need to be ordered. They need to be well planned. You prepare to the Nth degree, and all of those things that you’re doing are all there because they help you to feel in control. But that need for control also means that you’re probably holding on to stuff because you don’t want to let go of things, because by letting go, you might accidentally let go of control at the same time. So you hold stuff in. It might mean that you hold on to emotions.
You might hold on to dramas and try and keep a grip on them to try and control them before they unravel. You might hold on to things like actual possessions you might have lots of clutter about because this letting go, because you need to hold on to things, because you’re holding on to control that pattern for holding on is present in other ways and therefore you can’t let go, because letting go also means letting go of control. So you’re holding on to these emotions that you can’t express so they stay inside of you. You’re not processing them, you’re holding on to things. You don’t let go of stuff. You’ve got a lot of clutter. You’ve got emotional attachments to possessions that are now overwhelming you and taking up loads of space in your house. So this control is already starting to sort of show itself quite significantly in your life.
And so because you can’t fully let go and let yourself go, because on some level also, you might also be worried about looking silly. Because if I do let myself go and dance like nobody’s watching, well, I might look silly. And then if I look silly, then people won’t take me seriously. And if people don’t take me seriously, then they might not like me. And if people don’t like me, then I might feel like I don’t belong or I might be rejected or abandoned. And if I’m rejected or abandoned, then I’m not good enough. And if I’m not good enough, then I’m probably going to mess stuff up because I’m just not good enough. I can’t get stuff done.
I’m going to be a total failure. No one’s going to want anything to do with me and I’m going to be all alone. And if there’s one thing you fear more than anything, it’s being feeling living and dying alone. Now, that’s one way that all your head trash. All your anxieties are all wrapped up into a big tangled mess and they’re all connected. And all of these thoughts that are jumping around in your head all the time, that is what’s exhausting you. You don’t want to lose control. So you can’t stand chaos.
You’ve got to be organised. You can’t let go. You’ve got to hold on to stuff. You don’t want to look silly because they don’t like you, because you really want to be liked and you want approval. And so all these things you’re trying to do, you’re trying to balance them emotionally. You’re trying to hold on to that stuff in your head. And it’s heavy. It’s heavy.
It takes a lot of emotional energy. It takes a lot of mental energy. So this is why you need lots of sleep. This is why you feel exhausted that you need coffee to power your day. And without the coffee, then your day doesn’t really get going properly. It also might mean that as a result of having to hold all these thoughts and conflicts in your head that you can’t think straight, you can’t hear your intuition when it speaks to you. You can’t make decisions clearly because you’ve got all these like what ifs and oh no, but if I do it this way then they might not like me and if I do this I might offend them. And so you kind of hem yourself in because you can’t move forward anywhere because of all these anxieties and these conflicts that are kind of keeping you stuck or keeping you trapped inside this imaginary boundary of you can’t.
Step out of because you might look silly, because you might offend somebody, because someone might not like you, because you might get rejected because you’re not good enough, because you might mess it up. All of these things are what are keeping you hemmed in in this state of anxiety. And on my book Clear Your Head Trash, the cover is a head with what looks like a plate of spaghetti in the brain area. And that’s what this is. All of this anxiety is just this tangled web of strands of stuff that are all knotted up with each other. And if you kind of imagine, I don’t know, for those of you that have experiences of having long hair, when you have a big knot in your hair, you don’t just kind of like tackle the whole knot at once. You might pick at the edges and pick bits out of it and try and get bits of that knot dealt with before the whole knot will fall apart. This is exactly the kind of same approach that you need to take when looking at addressing your anxiety.
Because when you think about this tangled web of what I call a head trash, it’s affecting all sorts of pockets in your life and your mind. Because your need for control, well, that’s going to affect you in your relationships. It might mean that you want to be in control of everything. Because maybe there are trust issues going on there that you don’t trust everybody else to do what they need to do because they’re not going to have it as in control as you. Because they might not have your need for control and they might let it all go. It might go to be a total mess and then there’ll be chaos and you won’t be able to handle it. So best you deal with this and don’t delegate or don’t let anybody else handle anything so that you can manage this state of being. That means you don’t have to get fearful in case things get out of control.
So that’s going to show up in your relationships that will show up at work. You might be a micromanager, you might not delegate things responsibly or well if you’re a manager. And so this need to be in control is going to show up in lots of places. It’s also going to show up in the way that you are in your health, and it’s definitely going to show up on your pregnancy journey and your parenting journey. Because a fear of loss of control is one of the root things that is behind tokophobia the fear of pregnancy and birth because the pregnancy journey is very much about well, hang on a minute. Nature’s in control of this. I’m not in control and I like to be in control. So I’m not sure I can hand over control to nature even though you don’t have a choice in the matter.
And that’s where a lot of fear stems on pregnancy and birth because nature is the one that’s going to make your body change and grow the baby and then help birth your baby. It’s not you. You’re just kind of along for the ride. And so this is where a lot of anxiety comes from within the pregnancy and birth journey. And so when you’re looking at all these aspects, not wanting to let go, not wanting to look silly again, that’s going to show up. As a parent in labor, you might want to be vocal in labor and scream and say things but you don’t want to look silly. So your fear of looking silly is going to show up and get in the way of your birth space. Your fear of looking silly is going to get in the way of you being telling your kids off in the playground or doing something because your fear of judgment is going to kick in.
And so all of these things, it’s the same pattern. Fear of looking silly, being judged, not being taken seriously, not being liked, whatever is going on. But they will show up in your health, in your food habits, in your relationships, in your parenting, on your pregnancy journey, when you’re at work, in your business, whatever is going on, those same patterns are at play. If you’ve got that conflict going on, if you’ve got conflict around control, conflict around letting go, then you’ve got that going on and it’s going to be showing itself up everywhere, right? And this is why when I work with people on their pregnancy and birth fears and anxieties, when we do this kind of healing work, they start seeing the ripple effects elsewhere in their lives because patterns like this don’t operate in silos, they show up everywhere in your life. So the minute we heal your conflict around change or your conflict around control, then suddenly you delegate better at work. Work is getting work’s going better. Your kids are now responding to you in a way they weren’t before because you’re not being so controlling with them. You’re also finding your pregnancy journey a lot more peaceful and less anxiety inducing because you’ve now addressed that need for you inside to be in control.
So this tangled web of conflicts, of head trash creates lots of really horrid side effects. So anxiety is the obvious symptom here and how that shows up. But actually all of those conflicts that I’ve talked about are going to create lots of self sabotaging patterns and they’re going to keep you stuck in these unhelpful patterns of behaviour. If you think back to your inability to maybe let things go and to let other people take control of something, then maybe you’re surrounded by people that are really good at what they do. Whether it’s your partner who’s brilliant at building sheds or whatever they do, or cooking dinner or whatever’s going on, they’re really good at that. But you want to be in control of it. So you insist that you do it, or even if it’s with your friends, and you’re deciding to go out to the cinema and you want to be the one that decides what film you’re going to go and see, because you need to be in control. And so you don’t let them decide.
And so you just come across with it very controlling. And so these patterns that create conflict, that create friction and that generally create these unhelpful ways of being that keep you from living in peace. And when I say in peace, I mean without all this stuff running around your head, like debating yourself constantly, right? It might also mean that you’ll procrastinate on the things you actually want to do. So classic here, because we’re on a fear free childbirth podcast, is maybe you really want to be a mum, you really want to get pregnant, you really want that. But because of all these conflicts, because, well, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to I don’t want to lose control, that’s too much for me. So I can’t get pregnant. I can’t do that because I have this huge fear, actually, of losing control and then that’s going to lead to me not being in control and then letting things go and wherever that goes to for you. These are all connected in different ways for everybody.
But it means that you could be stuck in not doing what you really want to do because these fears, these conflicts are kind of keeping you hemmed in and because your mind and your head is kind of juggling all of these conflicts and fears. If you imagine every single one of these being like a juggling ball and you’re kind of juggling maybe 20, 30, 40 balls in the air at once, this is really tiring, right? It’s really tiring and it’s really exhausting. But it also means it’s going to take ages for you to get anything done. So your productivity and your effectiveness is just going to be rubbish because you can’t think straight, because there’s all this stuff that’s kind of in the way and you’ll kind of navigate. You don’t want to make a decision because, well, if I make that decision, then that might happen and then I might look silly, so I can’t do that. And if I do that, then so and so will be offended and then they won’t like me. And then I’ll be judged for saying this. And one thing that I hear a lot is that this decision making really plays out, especially with the fear of judgment during the pregnancy journey, is that even before you’re pregnant, you might be in a group of friends that nobody else is pregnant and have kids.
And then you decide that maybe you want kids, but then once you maybe move on that decision, then you might get judged by, oh, she’s now going to have kids and so might not be part of the gang, they might not like you anymore. So you’re procrastinating on that decision, but you’re also not able to kind of move forward on other things where judgment is getting in your way. And so all of this decision making means that you are just in this loop of procrastination because everything’s keeping you hemmed in. And so all of this also will mean that you probably don’t sleep very well, because when you try and go to sleep, your mind is racing with all of this stuff. And so your quality of sleep isn’t good because you’re still juggling this stuff while you’re sleeping, because you’ve had to juggle it all day long as well. You are actually really tired and so you need more sleep than you would if you didn’t have this anxiety going on. And so, because you’re not getting a good quality sleep, when you get up in the morning, you still feel quite groggy. You need the coffee because you just need somebody to jump start your system and you need the sugary snacks in the day because you kind of need that energy hit just to get through.
And so in order kind of to deal with all of this, a lot of people, then they want ways to escape this because it’s unpleasant. It’s not a nice experience to have all this going on. And so a lot of people might have a few drinks to try and relax and forget about all this. And a few drinks becomes a little bit more and maybe they turn to recreational drugs or sleeping tablets or any other kind of maybe assistance to help them to kind of escape some of these thoughts. And that can be a little bit of a slippery slope, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t put a stop to it. And it also doesn’t mean that it has to take a long time for you to do that. But I think it’s very important for us to kind of see what does that trajectory look like and why are we experiencing the things that we are experiencing and how can we put an end to it. Once we kind of have a good idea, a good clear picture of what’s going on, we can better navigate that.
And so I think when it comes to being pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant and having anxiety, one. Of the first things I’d urge you to do is really look at addressing that anxiety sooner rather than later. Because if you then overlay that with fears around birth and fears around pregnancy, then you’ve got your day to day anxiety around your life that you currently have already. And then there’s a whole new dimension of pregnancy and birth and impending motherhood or parenthood on the horizon that’s just throwing in a whole new barrel of laughs into that equation. And that can then suddenly feel incredibly overwhelming. And so it’s useful to deal with, chunk it down, deal with one thing before another. So when I’m working with people, let’s say people that come to me with tokophobia and they have anxiety, then we’ll probably start by dealing with the key themes of their anxiety. Because oftentimes a lot of those themes that are behind their anxiety are also responsible for why they’re experiencing tokophobia or extreme fears around pregnancy and birth.
So the control theme is a huge, huge theme in both anxiety and in tokophobia. Another huge theme which shows up in both of these areas are a fear of change. When things change, this fear of uncertainty, not knowing how things are going to turn out, this not knowing, makes us feel like things are out of control. They’re very closely tied, these two themes. And so if you have a fear of change or not, you like to know how things are going to turn out. You feel very uncomfortable with things that are uncertain, that change quickly because that feels like things are moving too fast for you and it makes you feel unsettled, then all of this is going to be accentuated significantly by the pregnancy journey because there’s going to be lots of unknowns that could come into that equation. How’s my pregnancy going to go? Am I going to have an easy pregnancy or am I going to spend my first trimester in nausea? What’s my body going to do when I’m changing it and I’m tired the whole way through? Am I going to have complications? Am I going to blah, blah, blah, blah? All of these unknowns, we just don’t know how that’s going to go. So if you have a fear of uncertainty or a fear of change already and now you’re contemplating pregnancy, you’re just adding salt to that wound because there’s going to be even more of that.
So the best thing for you to do is heal the conflicts that you’re carrying around, change and uncertainty first, so that then you can then deal with the uncertainties of pregnancy and the uncertainties of birth. You can kind of go, oh well, I don’t know how it’s going to go, but it’s likely to go. It can either go this way or this way or this way. And if I plan for all of those, then I’ve got my bases covered. And you can do that in a calm fashion, whereas if you’ve got a lot of anxiety around change and a lot of anxiety around uncertainty. It’s going to be very difficult for you to kind of calmly approach that and think about planning for your birth. Plan birth A, plan birth B, plan birth C. And I’ll plan for my home birth, I’ll plan for a hospital birth, I’ll plan for a C section birth.
And I’ve got all those plans cover heard. So even if I don’t know which one it’s going to be, it’s going to be one of those three. It’s not going to kind of be, well, it might be at the side of the road in a field if things kick off, so maybe plan for that one too. But there’s a limited amount of options when it comes to how births are going to go. So you can plan for that. We’re not in the realms of kind of infinite possibilities, but if you have a lot of fear around change and uncertainty, that’s going to be a very difficult task for you to do because you won’t even able to look at it because the emotional energy is just going to be too much for you to contemplate. So dealing with some of these themes that show up in anxiety, they’re often going to be many of the same themes that show up around your birth anxieties as well, your pregnancy anxieties. And so another key theme that shows up a lot, you’ve got the control theme that I’ve mentioned already.
You’ve got the change theme or the uncertainty theme. And then the other one is that feeling around being trapped and not having choices or freedom. And we grow up in a culture that if you’re a western culture, then a key value of our culture is freedom. Freedom of speech. Being free. American Dream is all about being free. Being free is kind of something that we have grown up and even though it’s been compromised significantly over the last few years, that is still a collective value that we all have. So when there’s something going on that contradicts that, that is in conflict with that, that is trapping you, that is taking away your freedom.
So then let’s just dive into this one quickly. When you think about COVID and Lockdowns, how much that took away our freedom and how much that triggered a lot of people and created lots of mental health conditions, lots of people got a lot of anxiety because their main desire, their main value of freedom, they couldn’t do that. They weren’t allowed. That was taken away from them. And it’s that that created a lot of anxiety. That was one of the key themes that’s being triggered by that situation. And so having your when you think about trapped, the pregnancy journey, once you start that journey, you’re trapped. You are on that train.
The only time you get off that train is either if you decide to terminate the pregnancy or if you have a miscarriage or you wait until the end of the babies come out. So the first two, there are not situations that many people would really wish. So you’re kind of stuck till the end, until the baby comes out and then already then labor kicks in and then you’re trapped in that process. Once it’s started, you’ve kind of got to let that unfold at its pace and yes, you can intervene, yes, you can take the shortcut and go for C section but there’s still a portal that you need to get through and there’s no escaping it. So you can’t shortcut the pregnancy journey and you can’t shortcut that birth journey and that can feel very trapping. It’s that sense of I have no choice but to go through this experience and if you have conflict around freedom and feeling trapped, then that’s going to be a really big deal for you. And that is what I see all the time with the women that I work with who have tokophobia is this sense of lack of choice, lack of freedom that the journey entails. And then of course, once you become a mum, you’re kind of stuck with the kids then, aren’t you? There’s no way out of that one until unless you give them away.
And so again, that’s not really so. These are all big things that need a lot of consideration. But when you’ve got a lot of conflict and fear and anxiety around some of those aspects, that can make it really difficult to handle. You put all that together. Plus the hormonal cocktail that kicks in when you are pregnant and you’ve got a recipe for an emotional hot mess, right? I’ve been there my second pregnancy, I was total hot mess at my first pregnancy at first trimester because the hormones just accentuated stuff that was already there. They just amplify some of the conflicts and the fears and the things that you’re experiencing. So if you’ve got anything like that going on, then I would urge you to deal with any of this sooner rather than later and especially before the pregnancy journey because then you’re more likely to have an easier pregnancy journey, emotionally speaking. So how can we get rid of it then? What is the way to heal yourself of your anxiety? So I’m going to share with you the process and the approach that I do this and it works and it’s a consistent methodical approach.
And what I use is I use head trash clearance which is the process that I developed as a result of my own tokophobia which I used to get rid of all of my own fears. And this process works on any it doesn’t care if it’s a birth fear or not a birth fear. And I work with business women and business leaders on working on their business fears and head trash. So it doesn’t matter whether it’s a fear and anxiety or a birth thing or a non birthing, a relationship, a food thing, exercise, head trash, body, head trash, doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter. So the thing is, the way that you go about getting rid of this is you start unraveling it. If you go back, think back to what I just said earlier about this tangled mess in your head earlier. I said, oh, you can’t stand losing control because you might have this chaos.
You hate chaos, and it needs to be ordered. It needs to be organised. You need to plan. You need to feel in control. You don’t want to let go because you might look silly, because you might not get taken seriously. All of these things, I’m just saying there those are all individual items that need to be unraveled. So you need to kind of identify all that stuff. Start exploring the inside of your head and go, what is it that I’m feeling uncomfortable? Why is it that I don’t like this? Why am I being triggered by this situation? What is it about this situation that makes me feel uncomfortable? What am I scared of happening? What’s the worst that could happen in this situation? Write all this stuff down.
Just brainstorm it, journal it, scribble it down, whatever it is. Just identify what those individual strands are. And so with what I shared with you earlier, those individual strands are going to be and this is going to be a to do list. This is your Head trash clearance to do list that you can then work through using head trash clearance, which I share in my book, clear Head Trash and Fearless Birthing. If you want to read the non birthy version, then clear your head trash is the way to go. And so your head trash clearance to do list, which is basically the individual strands of your anxiety or your fears. This is what it might look like based on what I shared earlier, control versus losing control, like being in control. And the opposite of that, the conflict that you want to be in control, and you hate losing control.
So those are two things you need to work on. You hate chaos and you want to be organised. So chaos and being organised, you want things to be well planned rather than disordered. So well planned or planned disordered, you don’t want to let go because you don’t want to look silly. So put letting go on there. Looking silly on there. You want to be taken seriously. So put taken seriously on there.
You see what I mean? This is what you that you don’t want to be rejected. So put rejected on that. You don’t want to be abandoned. Put that on there. You have a fear of failure. Put a failure on there. These are all the little individual things that you need to think about working on and clearing using head trash clearance. And one clearance could take you anything from like, ten to 30 minutes.
So this doesn’t need to take a long time, but you might have quite a long list, right? So this is how you kind of unravel it and start addressing each one in turn. And because you’re dealing with each one in turn, then slowly but surely, just like when you’re pulling, getting rid of the knot, this massive nest of knots in your hair, you pick at it long enough, before you know it, you can put a brush through your hair and there is no knot there. And that is what happens with the lump of anxiety that you’ve got going on. And so typically, I’ve kind of identified what some of those clearance items are, those to do lists, things that I’ve talked about, losing control, looking silly, that kind of thing. And typically, for somebody that’s wrestling with anxiety or severe anxiety, you could be looking at, I don’t know, 30 to 50, maybe over 70 items on that list. And you’re thinking, whoa, Lex, that’s ridiculous. I haven’t got time for this. Well, make time.
Right? Okay. If you’ve got anxiety and it’s sapping your life force and making you miserable and stressful and you’re not living the life of your dreams, then surely you’ve got nothing else in your life that you should be doing other than this work. Because once you do that, on the other side of that is freedom from your head, trash freedom from your anxiety. And you can go off and live the life of your dreams. Whether that’s being a mother, of having a family, starting your business, leaving this crappy job that you’re in, whatever it is, that’s what’s waiting for you on the other side. And listen to the stories that I’m sharing you on, the podcast of women that have tackled their birth anxieties and their fears. And listen to what they’re doing with their lives as a result of coming to the healing table and doing this clearance work, because that is what’s waiting for you on the other side. So write out everything on your list.
Write out those individual things and just do one a day. You just do one a day and it might take you ten minutes, 20 minutes, whatever, it doesn’t matter. And if you do that consistently, within two months, you could be saying goodbye to your anxiety. Within three months, you could be kicking it out the door. You could be a new person. I’ve got one lady. I’ve got a membership where I provide all the clearances that you need for all the common themes. So I’ve discussed today the control theme, I’ve discussed the change theme, I’ve discussed the decision making theme, the trap theme.
There are lots of these themes in life. There are many, many more than the ones I’ve talked about. I’ve just picked out the most common ones. Well, I’ve written out, I’ve prepared all the clearances that you need by theme, and they’re in my membership, which is called the clearance club, and you can join that. It’s $29 a month. And you’ve got all of those clearances available to you for you to just tick off one by one and start working on it. And I had one lady who couldn’t afford to work with me, and she said, I really need help. I’ve got depression.
I’ve got tokophobia I can’t get out of my bed. I’m crying every day. It’s a nightmare. What can I do? And I was like, well, okay, you need the Clearance Club. And so that’s it. She joined, and she just cracked on. And two months later, she canceled. And I was like, oh, my God, it’s rubbish.
My head trash. But yes, I asked. I said, “Well, how did you get on? What’s going on?” She’s, like, “Amazing. Amazing. I feel better. We’re now trying for a family. My depression is behind me. I don’t have tokophobia anymore.”
And I was like, oh, my God. That’s, like, amazing. You’ve only been in there two months. What’s happened? Like, tell me. Tell me. What did you do? He’s like, I did one clearance every day, and that was it. She did one thing every day, and after two months, she got rid of her depression and her Tokophobia, and she did all that on her own. So I’m sharing that with you because I think it’s really important for you to realise that this stuff you can do yourself.
You have everything within you to clear this stuff, and maybe you don’t know the method or the technique. Well, I’m making that super easy for you. So if that’s what you want, then head over to the Fear Free childbirth website, and you’ll find for the Clearance Club, you can also head over to the Clearyourheadtrash.com website, and you’ll find a link for it there too. It’s the same thing. So just head in there and you can start doing your clearances. And I’ve mapped it out. I’ve made it all really easy for you so you can work through it methodically in your own time at a pace that suits you. And soon you’ll start to see these shifts coming about so that you can start to live life in a way that is free of anxiety.
But once you’ve addressed your anxiety, that means that when you’re pregnant or you decide to get pregnant and then you fall pregnant, that those fears around pregnancy, maybe around birth that you have, maybe they’re not as strong. Maybe now when you approach that, when you get pregnant this time around, you think, okay, so this is still going to be like, this is still scary for me, but I think I can find a way through this. I mean, that was my experience the first time I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t realise I had tokophobia until that pregnancy test was positive. And then all of my fears came in. They all just piled in, and I fell into a pit of despair, and it felt incredibly dark for me. And I lost my baby three weeks later, so I miscarried around about seven weeks, and then I felt enormous relief, and I didn’t know that I had tokophobia at the time. So I was very confused.
Like, why did I feel relief at a miscarriage? What’s going on? I must be crazy. Like, there’s something wrong with me. And I didn’t know what was wrong with me. But I decided that I’d start with my depression and I’d start with my anxiety, as I felt that that was probably the source of the weird reaction that I had to miscarrying. And so I spent the next year really working on that and did a lot and made a lot of progress. So when I fell pregnant the next time, the same thing happened to me. I saw a positive test, but this time, instead of falling into a pit of despair, I was like, deep breath. Okay, this is still terrifying, but I’m going to figure out how I can get through this.
In fact, I was at that stage, I was like, maybe I can do this myself. Maybe I can deal with these fears myself. Maybe I can. I was in a much different place. That was the impact of me addressing my anxiety. So I was no longer this anxious person that had a lot of anxiety going on. Now I just had tokophobia going on. I dealt with my anxiety, and now my head was clear of the anxiety, but a lot of it, not all of it, but a lot of it, so that I was then free to just focus my mind on clearing the tokophobia and the birth fears.
To have to do all of that in one go while you’re pregnant, with the pressure of time progressing on, that was too much for me to handle. I couldn’t have done that. I needed to exit that situation, and I was relieved at the miscarriage. So this is why I’m urging you that if you have any anxieties, if you have any fears, you need to be getting on that. Get on with that as soon as possible. Like, there’s no time to lose anyway. Why would you wait? Why would you sit around and go, no, actually, I’m going to stay anxious. Yeah, no, that whole, like, being happy and free of anxiety and fear, no, that’s not for me.
I’m going to sit here in my anxiety and with my sleepless nights. Thank you very much. I really like it over here. This is where I’m going to stay. Like, why would you decide that? Why would you decide that? The reason you decide that is because you identify being anxious. The idea of changing so much is terrifying. And because you fear change, that’s one of your themes to work on. Then work on change so that you don’t fear changing so much that you can actually free yourself of this.
If you are struggling with fear and anxiety, my advice is just to do it, sort it out, clear it, get rid of it, so that you can start living a life that makes you happy, that you have contentment. You only have one life here. Enjoy it the sooner rather than later. Why delay doing that for yourself? Why stay in fear? There are some women that come to me go, well, I don’t want to get rid of my tokophobia, I don’t want to get rid of my fear. I just want to know how I can get through the pregnancy. And I don’t know how to deal with those questions because for me, it blows my mind that somebody might not want to get rid of their fear and anxiety. Like, why would you not want to do that? Why do you want to stay in that state? Because it’s not healthy. It’s not healthy for you, it definitely isn’t going to be healthy for your baby, and you’re denying yourself an incredible life.
So on that note, I’m going to sort of wrap up talking about anxiety. And if you do want to find out more about the Clearance Club, then it’s at Clearyourheadtrash.com Club. You can also find out where all that is at the Fearfree childbirth website. So I hope that this has been a useful episode for you. And if you want to tackle individual items on your list and I have got fear clearance tracks that you can just buy one off things to help address maybe your fear of losing control or fear of change, any of those things, you can just do those individually. Try out the clearance process. If that’s something that you want to give a go because sometimes you’re like, well, or just buy the book and try it out for yourself, then you can try it out, see how you’re getting on with it. And then if you want to dive in deeper, you absolutely can.
But I just want you to know that there is a way out of this, that you don’t have to stay fearful and anxious forever. And more importantly, you can take charge of this process. You can do it yourself. You don’t have to rack up huge therapy bills, you don’t have to pay lots of money to other people to walk you through this. You can walk yourself through it. And it might not be easy. Maybe you do need to have somebody there to hold your hand, to kick butt your way through it, to give you support, to give you accountability. But at the end of the day, this is absolutely something that you can do on your own, that you can do under your own steam.
And all it takes is for you to make the decision to do that. And once you do that, then all the wonderful things are waiting for you on the other side, living your dream life, having the things that you want in life a family, relationships, abundance, whatever it is that you are looking for, then that is available to you. But when you’re in fear and anxiety, those things magically keep themselves away from you. And so this is really the way out of that. And so I hope that if this feels like it resonates with you, then go ahead and give it a go. And I’d love to hear your stories of you giving that a go. And if you’ve got any problems, struggles, trying to do that process, I’ve got two Facebook groups where you can come and join and ask questions. So there’s the fearless birthing group.
If you’ve bought the fearless birthing group and you have questions and there’s clear head trash group if you don’t want to be in a birthy environment, you just want to kind of tackle it for life, know if you’re dealing with relationship things or work things or anything that’s just not pregnancy related, then head over to the Clear Your Head Trash Facebook Group. And I’m in there answering questions on anybody that has any questions about using Head Trash clearance to get rid of their anxieties and their fears around birth or indeed any other life theme. Okay, so I hope that today was useful, and I’ll see you next time here on the Fear Free Childbirth Podcast. Bye for now. You’ve been listening to the Fear Free Childbirth podcast with me, Alexia Leachman. Fear Free Childbirth is the online destination for women seeking to take the fear out of pregnancy, birth and beyond with fear clearance, meditations, self healing products and courses, professional training and specialist programs for overcoming tokophobia. And if you’ve enjoyed this episode mode, then check out the Fear Free Childbirth Mama Ship. It’s a bit like Netflix where you can binge on a boatload.
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