In this 4 minute video about fear in childbirth, there are some pretty startling statistics and quotes. Among them: 6-10% of women have an intense fear of childbirth. They fear they don’t have the strength, that they’ll lose control; they worry for the well-being of the baby, conflict with doctors, lack of support, “disempowerment” and not being able to breathe. The video also tells us that an intense fear of a negative birth puts a woman at higher risk for a negative birth. Sigh.
Also, pain medication doesn’t improve satisfaction and getting a c-section in order to gain control over birth is not rational–c-sections are no walk in the park. (My paraphrasing!) The ways to cope include: support, continuity of care (ie: more than a doc showing up at the very end, as many do), prenatal counseling and trust in the female body to do what it was built to do. Here’s the video:
(Turn down the volume! I don’t know why the music on childbirth videos always has to be like this!?)
Now a lot of this is actually pretty true, if depressing. But the stuff about pain meds is a bit misleading. I think a well-timed epidural can be helpful for some women. Women who have been sexually abused can have an acute fear of vaginal birth and would likely benefit from support, counseling and all the things listed above, but also, possibly, an epidural or even surgery. I’ve talked to women who felt traumatized by care-providers NOT respecting their wishes for pain medication. I think what the video may have been trying to get across is that pain is, surprisingly, usually not what women talk about if they had a very bad birth experience. Often the complaints have more to do with how they were treated at a time of intense vulnerability.I also think that getting rid of fear in childbirth doesn’t necessarily make all pain go away as some natural childbirth advocates promote. I had very little to no fear of childbirth with my second, and it was still very painful at the end, during transition. It was a very positive experience, but not a pain-free one. The lack of fear and my trust and support from others made it so that I could COPE with the pain, but it didn’t erase it. Even without fear there’s still a large baby going through a small space.
I’d like to know from readers what scares you, if anything, about birth. Or if you’ve given birth, what was it that helped the most when it came to fear, if anything? And what would you say to an expecting mom about how to reduce fear in labor?