If you are scared of giving birth, you are not alone. It’s normal to be nervous about having a baby, and some people have a deeper anxiety about labor or any part of the process.
I will never forget the day I saw those two pink lines show up on my pregnancy test. It was a few days before my scheduled period and I just had a feeling that I may be pregnant. I was excited to test and the three minute wait felt like forever.
As I looked at those lines, I was overcome with excitement and fear at the same time. It was the strangest feeling and one I couldn’t shake for a few days.
Once I processed that I was pregnant, my mind started racing. Who should I deliver with, who will support me with a VBA2C, should I plan on a hospital birth or go for a HBAC (home birth after cesarean)?
You name it, the questions were there. I was nervous about giving birth.
With this article, I want to let you know you are not alone if you are scared or even terrified of giving birth. I also want to go through the ways I worked through that fear and the steps I took to find the perfect team for my birth. Most importantly, you will find resources to help you manage your fears and prepare for a confident, supported birth experience.
What are your fears around childbirth?
This is a question that I asked myself often. What was I scared of?
Step one of working through any fear surrounding giving birth is figuring out what you are scared of. In the beginning of my pregnancy, I had so much fear surrounding what questions others would ask me.
- Wouldn’t a repeat C-section be safer than a VBAC?
- Aren’t you afraid of your uterus rupturing?
- What if something bad happens? Will you ever forgive yourself?
- Are you scared of dying during childbirth? Followed with, “I would be scared of dying if I were you.”
- If something happens to you or baby, will your husband forgive you?
I was getting questions like these all over the pace. I found myself getting scared and asking myself all of these questions over and over again.
But why was I letting these things scare me? I had done research, and I was still doing research. I knew the facts about VBAC.
I knew that those questions were nonsense, but they sure didn’t feel like nonsense. They felt real, and they felt scary. It started getting to the point where I thought maybe I should just have a repeat C-section.
One day, I decided to sit down and really figure out what about this birth was causing my fear. Crazy enough, I actually found that it wasn’t anything like the questions that were racing through my mind. I just asked myself those questions because they were being asked of me.
When I took the time to look more deeply at my fears, they looked more like this:
- If I have a repeat C-section will everyone think I am a failure?
- What will my future VBAC doula clients think if I can’t even have my own VBAC?
- Will I find the support that I need? I didn’t want to feel pressured into a repeat C-section. I knew I would need a supportive VBAC provider.
- Will my husband go for a home birth? Can we afford a home birth?
- If I reach 3 cm again and don’t progress, how can I allow myself to let go and give my body time?
I realised that it wasn’t as much my ability to give birth, it was all of the things surrounding it that were scaring me.
However, I know a lot of people where it is the complete opposite. It’s their ability to give birth causing them anxiety, rather than the support they have.
So let’s break it down. What are you scared of?
I encourage you to write it out. Go sit in a dim room alone with some calming music or whatever brings you peace, and really dig deep into your childbirth fears.
Working through your fears of giving birth
Once you have figured out what your fears are, the next step is to start processing these fears. There are many ways to process fears, but one of my favorites is the VBAC without fear video that Julie created.
The exercise in the video is something I have personally done. I’ve also recommended it to many of my doula clients, who found it very helpful.
The video explains the process of writing your fears on paper and then physically burning them. There is a dopamine release in seeing your fears burn, which then helps the brain come to a more conscious awareness of that fear.
I remember doing this fear release activity with a client while she was in labor. Her labor went from random contractions that were not super effective or strong to stronger contractions that brought on cervical change with each fear she burnt.
Sometimes working through this activity may not completely “fix” or diminish your fears.
That is okay. Every step you take helps you process and recognize what step you can take next.
Resources to help if you’re scared of childbirth
There are many resources available to help us overcome fears that we may have surrounding childbirth. When it comes to VBAC, we tend to not only have fears surrounding the birth itself, but all the what ifs and doubts from previous births and people around us.
As a VBAC parent myself, I understand that using all of these resources is valuable and worthwhile. We have found resources that helped not only ourselves, but our doula clients, and many others.
Professional therapy or counseling
Therapy is something that I would strongly suggest to anyone working through a previous birth trauma, whether it ended in a C-section or not.
Working with a professional can help prepare your mind by working through past experiences, current fears, and even help process some of the unknowns. We love Better Help. They are an online counselor service that is easy to access and great to have, especially when you are busy with all the fun things in life.
If you have been diagnosed with tokophobia (a significant fear of childbirth), a professional service is suggested.
Find a good support group
Having a close support group that you can talk with when you are feeling scared or overwhelmed can be a great help.
When I was preparing for my VBA2C, there were many days that I called my doulas or my cousin, who was the best support person ever. She was always there to listen to me when I was struggling or feeling fear.
Hire a doula
Having a doula at my birth with my son was a game changer. I was still working through some fear I had surrounding failure to progress from previous births. My labor was long and involved a lot of waiting and work. My baby was posterior, causing a lot of back labor. I required a lot of physical support on top of the extra emotional support.
It was so reassuring to have a doula I could text in the early stages of labor, and to have their support all the way through. My husband also felt better able to support and help me during labor, because he felt so much love and support from our doulas.
When I was in labor with my second child, without a doula, my husband felt like a fly on the wall. He didn’t know what to do, so he fell asleep. After the birth, he said WOW, I would never do that without a doula.
If your partner is unsure about hiring a doula, give this awesome podcast episode a listen where dads tell you what they think you should know. My husband would describe doulas as awesome and invaluable! Doulas also help lower the chances of cesarean and unnecessary interventions and bring so much comfort to the birthing space.
Take childbirth classes
Education is so important and can be such a great way to help work through fears. If you want to learn more about childbirth, hypnobirthing is an education course that covers great ways to cope through fear and childbirth. Find an online childbirth class to fit your needs and schedule.
If you are planning a VBAC, we have created an incredible self-paced online VBAC preparation course that can continue to help you work through fears and anxiety surrounding your VBAC. This course will help educate you and your partner in all areas of VBAC.
If you have a birth coach or doula, we have also created a birth professional VBAC course with them so you both can be on the same page and work through the activity sheets and fear release activity together.
Hire a doula
Read books and listen to stories
Fear is a real thing and sometimes hearing other people share their own fears, like the people on The VBAC Link Podcast, can help you work through your own fears.
If you have had a previous birth experience that left you feeling scared, or even traumatized we highly recommend the incredible book How to heal a bad birth (available on Amazon).
For a better birth, start working through your fears today
During labor with my third child, I felt that I still had some fears to work through. With that said, I truly believe that I was in a much better place entering my labor than I had been with previous births. I was able to manage the fears I had during labor because of all the work I had done leading up to the birth.
It is common for us as humans to put things off and not want to face unpleasant or difficult emotions like fear. You may not want to work through your fears until you have to, or you may try hard to avoid dealing with them.
I encourage you to try your hardest to get to a place of comfort by working through your fears and anxieties surrounding childbirth and your VBAC. It’s worth it to get the support you need to feel strong, capable, and confident going into your birth.
If you are reading this blog right now and you have some fears surrounding childbirth, I would like to challenge you to make that next step. Start working on processing your fears surrounding childbirth, learning, and getting support.
You don’t have to go into labor being scared of giving birth. Go into birth feeling strong and confident in your ability to birth your baby. We are with you and believe in you.
If you haven’t had a chance to join our VBAC Link community on Facebook, be sure to head over and find an instant support group waiting for you. The people in this community are so incredibly supportive and are going through so many of the things you are going through. Also be sure to join us on Instagram. We post daily and love to answer your questions.