According to WHO, the Caesarean section rate for childbirth has increased globally for the past decades and it will continue to rise over the next decades. It is predicted nearly 1 out of 3 of childbirth are Caesarean section (~29%) when reaching 2030. These stats show the increasing trend of Caesarean section (CS) are those in low-risk pregnancy group which require an unnecessary surgical procedure for childbirth. Pregnancy and childbirth fear could be one of the reasons that most low-risk pregnancy groups choose to have CS as the delivery method.
Giving birth to a child is a process associated with both joy and worrisome. According to a study, fear of childbirth is one of the important factors contributing to the rise of Caesarean Section rates globally. How to overcome pregnancy and childbirth fear? Read on to learn about this condition and how to cope with this fear.
Pregnancy and Childbirth Fear
It is common to have pregnancy and childbirth fear. The majority of expecting moms are able to cope with the fear and anxiety with self-care, supports, and medical help. Some will develop anxiety and show symptoms of panic, sweating, and fast heartbeat when confronted with the thought about pregnancy and images of delivery. It can lead to tokophobia and you may need to consult your doctor. It can happen to women who are scared of childbirth during their first pregnancy (who has no birth experience before) and those who have a lack of trust due to previous traumatic birth from previous pregnancy (has experience of birth before).
What are the major fears? Here I have listed down a few:
- Fear of labor pain. This is common for new mother who have no experience of giving birth before. They can’t imagine how painful it is during the labor, how long will the labor pain is going to last and afraid of the after birth injury such as a tear to the perineal area.
- Concern on safety of the child. Especially new mothers who have no experience of childbirth, they often have worries that their bodies can’t handle vagina delivery and will cause harm to the child.
- Fear of the delivery process. No matter it is vaginal delivery or Caesarean delivery, there are many uncertainties and risk involved. Not knowing what is going to happen. This maybe due to their concern on some negatives stories they have heard or read about before.
- Fear of loosing some bodily function as a result of childbirth. Some said stretch mark on their skin will affect their look and vaginal delivery will cause urinary incontinence (loss of bladder control) later in life. The perineal damage will cause potential complication during sexual activities is also their main concern.
- Fear of experiencing another traumatic delivery. Some mothers have experienced traumatic events before and they are scared of facing it again. Such as lost of a child during delivery, having a down syndrome baby before, have a serious tear to the perineal area and slow recovery, etc.
How do you cope with the fear of pregnancy and childbirth? It is important to gain solid knowledge about pregnancy and childbirth, seek supports that you need to strengthen your understanding of the whole pregnancy and delivery process. I have listed 5 methods to help you cope with pregnancy and childbirth fear.
Join a pregnancy class
We need to get information for our readiness and preparedness for pregnancy and childbirth. By gaining enough knowledge will boost up our confidence and decrease anxiety. Enroll in one birthing class and ask questions about pregnancy and childbirth. Find out what is the best delivery options available to you.
Pregnancy is a major physical, psychological and social event in every woman’s life. It is not the time you hide your feeling of fear and bear all the stress alone. Talk to your family, your beloved husband, and your siblings who have given birth before. Talk openly and honestly about what you are afraid of. Social support is greatly needed and everyone will definitely love to help you overcome this. Sometimes, joining an expectant mother’s group and get supports from each other is also a great idea.
Have a birth plan
Talk to your doctor during your routine visits and find out as much as possible information you need to prepare yourself for childbirth. Talk about delivery options and find out the pros and cons. Sometimes, you will build up your confidence once you have resolved all your uncertainty and therefore, less anxiety and fear.
Self-preparedness and a positive mindset are what you need during this period. Surround yourself with positive stories. Believe in yourself that you can give birth naturally. Read many successful stories about giving birth naturally and the benefits. If your body is healthy and has no issue with giving birth naturally, have the courage to go for it. Remember, God creates a woman’s body that is designed to handle birth, you can handle it too. Hearing positive feedback can motivate us to try something beyond our thought.
Sometimes, finding supports, more reading can’t stop you from getting the pregnancy and childbirth fear, seek professional help. You may request your doctor to recommend a good therapist who is trained in cognitive behavioral therapy for pregnant women. Sometimes, this kind of therapy may help you overcome and treating tokophobia.
When you are approaching your due date, your feeling of anxiety will be getting stronger. So, how to calm yourself down when anxiety strikes? Try these few methods:
- Try a relaxation breathing method. Lie down on your bed or sofa comfortably. Close your eyes and relax, focus on your breathing. Slowly take a deep breath through your nose, filling your lung with fresh air for a count of 4. Breath out through your nose for another count of 4. Repeat this for 3-4 minutes everyday.
- Listen to soft music. Music can soothe our mind.
- Look at cute baby’s photos and keep busy with decorating baby’s nursery and searching for baby products.
- Close your eyes and visualize beautiful things and environment that can make you happy.
- Think about hobbies that you enjoy doing. Craft work like knitting, cooking, drawing & painting, flower arrangement, yoga, games and sight seeing can reduce the anxiety and make us happy.
- When the times come, husband support is all she really needs. Be with her during the delivery is so important. Don’t let her face the childbirth fear all alone.
Side effect of pregnancy and childbirth fear
One of the major concerns is about postnatal depression is often related to pregnancy and childbirth fear. A depressed postnatal mother can cause the breakdown of a family depends on the seriousness of the illness, including neglect of the child, self-harm, and suicide. Research also shows that the baby may develop emotional and behavioral problems or cognitive delays in childhood.
As a conclusion, to all the moms out there…Believe that your body is capable of handling pregnancy and childbirth because our body is designed to give birth and bring our baby into the new world. Our grandmother and mother can do it, you can do it too.
Share about your pregnancy and childbirth fear, what do you fear the most? Let us know in the comment box below.