Labor and childbirth is an exciting milestone, but it can be a difficult and stressful process. If you are scared of labor, knowing what to expect and planning ahead can help ease your fears.
Preparing for childbirth ahead of time can help you get in the right frame of mind before you head to the hospital. Although you can't plan for every possibility, you can take steps to make your experience less stressful. When you create a birth plan that includes your particular preferences, you can rely on it during the process rather than having to make each decision as the need arises.
5 tips for managing your fear of giving birth
1. Manage your stressors
Expecting a baby is an exciting time, but it may be filled with uncertainty and anxiety. You may experience difficulty sleeping or headaches as a result of stress, which can have an effect on the baby's development. Stress management during pregnancy can help you and your baby stay healthy:
- Get enough sleep
- Eat healthy
- Identify triggers and them
- Practice relaxation techniques on a regular basis
- Try hobbies such as baking, pottery, or gardening
If your stress becomes unbearable, speak with your doctor about medications that may help and are safe to take during pregnancy.
2. Get emotional support
Healthy emotional connections are crucial at any stage of life, but the support of a significant loved one is especially important during pregnancy. Find loved ones who can give you reassurance, and don’t be embarrassed to ask for assistance.
3. Learn about different labor positions
Make efforts to practice various poses ahead of time. You may need to advocate for yourself in the delivery room, or you may need to ask your support person to help you change positions to be more comfortable.
The conventional labor posture of resting on your back places pressure on the pelvic nerves, which can aggravate pain. Changing positions during labor may help you feel more comfortable and the baby's descent through the delivery canal. For example, sitting up stimulates blood flow to the pelvic muscles and lying on your side relieves pressure on the perineum.
4. Do stretches and exercises
Pregnancy causes a shift in your center of gravity, which can cause problems with your posture. Exercise helps strengthen the muscles that you'll use during labor and can reduce muscle ache and pain that can come after the baby is born. Yoga positions can help relieve pregnant discomfort and stretch your muscles in preparation for childbirth. For example, deep squatting helps relax the pelvic floor muscles, whereas the cat/cow stance relieves lower back stiffness.
Working with a physical therapist can help you learn to push during birth and practice getting into labor-friendly positions. They can also assist you in focusing on injury and pain avoidance from the beginning of your pregnancy and throughout the postpartum period.
5. Prepare your body to deal with pain
Contractions that your body produces to force the baby out will be painful. There are various natural ways to manage this discomfort if you want to give birth without using drugs, which you can discuss with your doctor.
Before childbirth, learn everything you can about labor. Knowing what to expect throughout labor and delivery will allow you to manage your discomfort more efficiently.
During labor, here are tips that can help you deal with the pain and stress:
- Make sure you are in a comfortable environment. You'll need room to maneuver about. Sitting in a rocking chair or reclining on a comfortable bed might be soothing while you're in labor.
- Have people around you who can help and support you, such as your partner or a midwife.
- Keep in mind that the agony will not last forever. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions.
- Learn how to use rhythmic breathing techniques to manage your pain during contractions.
- Use both warm and cool compresses. Warmth on your back or shoulders may help relieve pain, whereas a cool compress can help relieve sweating.
- To calm your muscles between contractions, try a massage with a mild oil or lotion.
What is tokophobia?
It is natural for pregnant women, especially first-time mothers, to feel apprehensive or fearful about giving birth. However, some women have an extreme fear of pregnancy and childbirth, leading to a diagnosis called tokophobia.
Symptoms of tokophobia include:
- Feelings of isolation, guilt, and shame
- Thoughts of terminating a healthy pregnancy
- Hiding a pregnancy or being in denial about pregnancy
- Difficulty preparing for birth or accessing pregnancy information
- Stomach problems
- Anxiety that leads to panic attacks
Women who have a high to severe fear of childbirth are more likely to have a planned or emergency cesarean delivery. Women who have a high fear of childbirth but no history of depression are more likely to have postnatal depression.
How is tokophobia managed?
Causes of childbirth apprehension are complicated and individual to each woman. Effective therapies in maternity care should:
- Offer confidence in their ability to give birth
- Teach them how to cope with labor and empower them to make decisions during pregnancy and the birth process
- Make them aware of painless labor techniques and facilities available
The goal of the treatment is to provide extra support to women and includes:
- Sensitive instructions about the birth process
- Problem-solving skills
- Labor-coping strategies
- Affirming that unfavorable birthing occurrences can be managed
If your anxieties about giving birth are keeping you awake at night, it may be beneficial to go into the experience with a little more planning. Creating a birth and nursing plan with your obstetrician or midwife may help you mentally prepare for the delivery day, while also keeping track of your goals. Discuss these plans with your partner or another family member who will be present during the delivery.
You might want to think about hiring a professional or therapist who may help you with emotional and physical care throughout birth and the postpartum period. With doctors coming in and out of the delivery room while you're in labor, having a professional who is always at your side, ready to advocate for you, and reassure you when you need it can be beneficial.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Is it normal to be so worried about giving birth? https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/giving-birth/labour-and-birth-faqs/it-normal-be-so-worried-about-giving-birth
10 Ways to Help Overcome Your Birth Fears: https://www.lamaze.org/Giving-Birth-with-Confidence/GBWC-Post/10-ways-to-help-overcome-your-birth-fears
Calming Your Labor and Delivery Fears: https://www.webmd.com/baby/features/calming-your-labor-and-delivery-fears
Coping with fear of childbirth: https://utswmed.org/medblog/coping-fear-childbirth/
Severe Fear of Childbirth: Its Features, Assessment, Prevalence, Determinants, Consequences and Possible Treatments: https://lkpz.nl/docs/lkpz_pdf_1464045054.pdf
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