Why are we so apprehensive about giving birth and what can we do about it?
My name is Gabi, Birthing from Within Childbirth Mentor (in training) at Love Parenting. I love helping parents with their fears around birth, labor and parenthood.
My role as a mentor is to encourage pregnant women to look within to be aware of the decisions they make, be mindful of how they feel, and what fears and worries arise when planning a birth. I also offer different coping techniques they can use during labor and birth. My hope is that by addressing their worries and fears, they can better prepare for birth, be prepared of unexpected turns and that by doing this they can reduce their chances of feeling traumatized by the experience.
Why are we so apprehensive about giving birth?
If you are a first time mom, birth is an unknown personal experience that ranges from exhilarating, bewildering, scary, painful to traumatic. The movies always show it as an emergency. Also, it requires that you trust your healthcare providers (doula, midwives, doctors), your partner and ultimately, yourself. For some of us, this is a brand new concept.
A long time ago we used to give birth in our homes with our families around us. Women supported each other, we were in touch with birth and breastfeeding. Now, because births take place in hospitals, most of us have never seen a woman give birth. All we know about birth is the distorted versions from television and media. Being nervous about birth is normal it’s an unknown place, In general, we fear change and the unknown.
Birth preparation that gives you coping techniques to address your fears is important. Birthing from within works heavily on all agreements, that is, stories we believe to be true about birth and also supports you in keeping calm with breathing and mindfulness exercises during labor and birth.
Anxiety and nerves around birth are common, but if you feel like you are not coping well with the idea of birthing, are afraid of going to the hospital, or any obstacle in your way to having a pleasant birth experience it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor, doula, midwives, childbirth educator, mentors and to a counselor or therapist.
What do most women struggle with after birth?
Ah, The tyranny of expectations. We make birth plans, choose a doctor, hospital and prepare the best way we can. However, birth does its own thing. We cannot fully control what happens during birth. Like going into a labyrinth, it has twist and turns. Most parents I see for birth debriefing through Birth story listening say that they find it hard to come to terms with what they imagined birth would be like and the aftermath of what happened.
Rituals and Ceremonies that support women before and after birth.
Rituals and Ceremonies have always been important to connect to our knowledge within, to what is sacred and essential to and in us. Pregnant women should be celebrated throughout the childbearing year. We believe traditional baby showers celebrate the mother to be, but it’s all about the baby; all gifts are for the bundle of joy and not the mother. Blessing ways are a beautiful way to celebrate the mother, to honor her, to be part of her journey from Maiden to Mother. It also brings together her tribe, those that will support her after birth.
A beautiful ritual for after birth is the Closing of the Bones Ceremony. I learned the traditional Closing of the bones that is done in my country, Ecuador. But a version of the closing is practiced in many countries around the world and have different names. This ritual consists of a postnatal massage in the lower abdomen and tightening long pieces of cloth around the body especially around the hips. Our bodies literally open when we give birth, a closing of the bones ceremony pieces us back together through gently tightening of cloths around the body (feels like a firm hug that holds us lovingly) and somehow works at the emotional and spiritual level. It helps integrate what happened during birth.
Also being able to tell your story out loud is a healing ritual. There’s medicine in storytelling both for the listener and the storyteller.
My ultimate piece of advice
Don’t run away from your fears. Be curious about them. Don’t ignore them. Ask yourself the hard questions with the help of your childbirth educator, mentor, doula, midwife or someone prepared to support you emotionally. Birth is not all rainbow and unicorns. Like anything that is worthwhile, it’s hard work, and you can do it. Prepare like a birth Warrior that is ready to encounter everything thrown at you.
Favorite ways to prepare for Birth?
My favorite books to prepare for birth are:
I love “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz.
Another must read is the book "Emotional Agility" by Susan David.
Listen to the "Birthful Podcast".
Use the "Mind the Bump" Mindfulness Meditation tool for new and expecting parents. It is quite amazing.
Also, I suggest you join our monthly local free Mother-to-be Circle for pregnant mothers where we listen and share about fears and concerns non-judgmentally.
Gabi started her journey as a birth worker when she understood the impact of her labor, delivery, and birth had on her life, the way she viewed herself as a mother. Her desire is to support women to have a childbirth preparation that’s not outcome focused, and that can prevent birth trauma.