When it comes to childbirth, pain and fear are two beasts that seem to lurk in the background. Managing the beast of fear can be seen as a battle of faith over fear and a battle of anticipation vs. living in the moment. Faith combines faith in yourself; the process of pregnancy, labor and birth; and God or spirituality (something outside yourself). Faith gives us strength, safety and rest, while fear has a way of tormenting us.
What exactly is fear? Fear seems real, but is mainly imagined! It is a state of mind or a feeling. The American Heritage Dictionary states: “Fear is a feeling of alarm or disquiet caused by the expectation of danger, pain, disaster, or the like; terror, dread; apprehension.”
Fear can manifest itself in various ways. It is experienced in different ways, at different times. Sometimes it is fleeting; sometimes traumatic, sometimes it can alter physical sensations. Where there is fear, there is often strife, worry or confusion. “For what I fear overtakes me, and what I shrink from comes upon me. I have no peace or ease; I have no rest, for trouble comes!” – Job 3:25-26. Fear is like turning away; faith is more embracing and accepting – a turning toward.
Fear can immobilize us. We know that anxious, fearful thoughts often trigger a stress response. The stress can result “fight, flight or freeze” reactions. You can see how fear contributes to pain and a request for pain medication in childbirth. I strongly advise that women do a lot of thinking about fear and incorporating relaxation into the pregnancy, labor and birth process.
Face fear bravely with courage. “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear” – Mark Twain
Here’s how I worked through my fear issues: First of all, I did not let fear dominate. I had concerns regarding excessive bleeding, shoulder dystocia, or a cord wrapped around the baby’s neck, but I did some research and had a plan as to what I would do if faced with those circumstances. I did not expect fear or pain. It is not a given. You can’t foretell the intensity, duration and power of contractions. You might have some hints from research and experience of previous births, but it is not a given. Thus, it is important to be in the moment and let things unfold and be ready to respond and react. Anticipate means to be ready, just in case. Be mentally strong and ready to endure whatever might come your way.
During childbirth, we can cast away fear by focusing on love – the love in your life, the love you have for life and the special people in your life. You can find comfort in prayer – and be sure that your prayers are not fear-based!
"I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened." – Mark Twain
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain