Let’s be honest though, yes bad things do happen in pregnancy and birth, just like bad things happen during everyday life as well. You may have a car accident if you drive, you may fall off a bike while riding, you may be injured playing sport, your plane might crash or disappear completely when you are on your way to a holiday destination, your drink may be spiked while you’re at the pub or club, all of these things scare us and may happen to any of us but for the majority of people we don’t allow the fear of them to overwhelm us and take over our decision making processes.
And then there’s childbirth.
Apparently childbirth is different just because we have a baby growing inside us, we are expected to do what our care providers tell us to do, we are expected to shy away from what our care providers, family, friends and random strangers on the street tell us are the risks involved in bringing a baby into the world and we are made to fear those risks as if they WILL happen to us if we don’t do what we are told to do.
The reality though is that majority of the risks of childbirth are small, most of them are less likely to happen than being peripherally involved in a car accident or getting a sports injury, but to us they are for more important because everyone tells us that they are, everyone shares the horror stories and the worst case scenarios and avoids the much more common positive stories. More importantly people ignore the things that led to the horror stories happening and they either forget just simply do not know that many of them could have been prevented or reduced in severity with different care providers.
The most common horror story out there is the “my baby nearly died” birth story, I know this one very well because it happened to me too. It’s very scary when your baby goes into distress and everyone starts rushing around to get baby out quickly, either via forceps or ventouse (vacuum extraction) or via emergency caesarean. For the woman sharing this particular type of horror story it has likely been an extremely traumatic experience, they may only be 4cm dilated, or they may have just started pushing or they may have been pushing for hours and all of a sudden it’s panic stations and she is being told that “baby needs to come out now or he/she will die!” It’s a horrible experience for a mum and it doesn’t matter if she is a first time mother or has 4 other children at home, the trauma and fear is very real and affects you in some way for the rest of your life, and now she has shared that fear with you even though you most likely didn’t even want to know and you are scared that it or something like it is going to happen to you as well. Now that you have heard this story you have a choice – you can either give in to the fear and expect that it WILL happen to you and you can book an elective cesarean instead so that it doesn’t happen at all (the announcement of which leads to more horror stories about cesareans from other well-meaning mothers, grandmothers, sisters, cousins etc who don’t realise that they are making you even more scared), or you can face that fear, look at it and accept that yes it is a valid fear and there is a chance that it could occur, and then move past it and put it aside and accept it as a risk that you are willing to take and do everything that you can to prevent it from happening, that way if it does happen you’ve done everything possible to prevent it and are prepared for it as well.
Tough choices aren't they? Fear can make us do many things that we wouldn't otherwise do; will you avoid your fear and opt for the seemingly "easier" or less fearful way out? Or will you face your fear and push yourself through it in order to have the kind of birth that will leave you happy, empowered and ready to take on the world?
The choice is yours and yours alone.
Birth Without Fear – Michael Odent