It is a quite unfortunate fact that fear is very much tied to the pregnancy and labor process. We, as humans, fear the unknown. And even for the 2nd and 3rd time birthing person there is still a level of fear with each birth experience. This fear comes from many factors. Some being the media, some from those we encounter during our pregnancy. Sometimes, fear can be incidentally placed by care providers. Fear is natural. But too much fear, or fear without acknowledgement, assessment, work and resolution can potentially cause problems during your birthing experience.
We may have hopes of a natural birth but fear that we may not be "strong enough". We may have seen a few labor videos and cannot imagine being in that amount of pain. We may be open to an epidural but have heard horrible tales of paralysis and forever back pain. We may be terrified of the surgery that is a cesarean delivery. Or upset and scared that we have to deliver in a hospital at all as you had always dreamed of a home birth but for whatever reason, it is no longer possible. We may even fear how our spouses will take to the entire process of birth and how our other support person will fit into the grand scheme of things. All of these fears can cloud our minds and therefore our bodies and deter us from the magnificent beauty that is childbirth.
Although uncommon, fear and birth do not favor each other. When we fear things, adrenaline is heightened in our systems. This can trigger the all effective "fight or flight" response. This can shut down the progress of labor which could lead to some of the things we were fearing to begin with. Like interventions and modifications to the original birth plan. Instead, mentally overcoming your fears can help you relax and focus through the contractions and take in the world around you. In this case, there is a higher presence of oxytocin, the hormone of love. Oxytocin is what brings on contractions and it is important to maintain high levels of oxytocin so as to maintain the progress of your labor. High levels of oxytocin bring about high levels of endorphins as well. So not only can you be relaxed, you will feel good about what you are doing. Adrenaline and Oxytocin do not mix. Adrenaline lowers the production of oxytocin and therefore can slow down or halt your labor altogether.
So, while we all know that fear is natural. We must also remember that overcoming our fears is considered healthy and progressive toward productivity. So, shoo away the naysayers when they put doubt and fear on your plate. Get out of your own head by acknowledging what it is you are fearing. Attend a childbirth education Class to become more knowledgeable about what to expect in your near future. Speak with your care provider and doula about it. They will help educate you and let you know the processes to alleviate whatever it is that you fear. In this arena, the saying can ring very true, "When you Know Better, You Do Better".
Remember, remaining calm, focused, tranquil, Informed, and overall pleased is the key to feeling satisfied with your childbirth experience, no matter what that might entail.