Labor and Delivery: Fear of Labor Pain
First of all, it's important for you to know you are not alone in your fear of labor and delivery. Unfortunately, our culture presents labor and delivery as something to be feared, and we are all brought up with media images of screaming, laboring mothers. The truth is, most women have what it takes to birth normally, without pain medication. Some even have orgasmic births in which they experience ecstasy. As one of my patients once said, "If I had known it was this good, I'd have had 10 kids.
Here are my suggestions:
Avoid people who tell you war
stories about labor and delivery.
- Seek support from women who have had positive and empowering birth experiences, or read about them. I recommend the amazing birth stories in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by the famous midwife Ina May Gaskin.
- Hire a birth professional or doula. Doulas are trained to mother you during pregnancy, labor and birth. Check out Doulas of North America. Many studies have shown that the presence of a doula during labor shortens first time labors by about four to six hours and cuts the risk of a C-section in half. Moreover, women who are emotionally supported during labor do not require as much pain medication. Fear increases pain, pure and simple. When you are relaxed and well-supported, you will have a more pleasurable birth experience.
- Look into the childbirth method techniques described in a program called Calm Birth. This program is being used successfully in many hospitals and birth centers to help women experience labor in a more relaxed, empowered state.
Yes, labor and delivery is hard work. But when a woman is fully supported, she can emerge from the experience more empowered than ever and ready to deal with the rigors of motherhood. Please read the sections on labor and birth in my two books: Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom and Mother-Daughter Wisdom for more information and resources.