The ONE voice of reason | Fear of Labour
I remember being pregnant with my first child very clearly. I can remember as time passed and I moved closer to the elusive 40 weeks, the dread that set in. Although I should say that it wasn’t only dread. I do remember moments of excitement and wonder as to what the future held, but these were fleeting.
I vividly recall looking down at my stomach and thinking “this baby needs to somehow come out”. I can tell you it scared the heck out of me. Many people around me were full of great “advice” and ready to share it. I received unsolicited advice on what my labour was going to be like, what was going to happen to me, how I was going to feel and what I would and wouldn’t care about. All these people were basically informing me of what my experience was going to be, often based on their own experiences. People love to share how painful and traumatic their childbirth was. I was experiencing tokophobia, I had heard about this and now I felt like I was living it.
Having said all this, I do know that people are generally well intentioned so I am sure no one was aware of the fear they were feeding inside of me, how I was crying myself to sleep, leaving antenatal classes in tears and crying at the traffic lights on the way to work.
To make things worse, I was sure that if I was feeling relaxed and content then that would surely be better for the baby, so I threw some new mum guilt on top of my fear.
I have come to realise that not all women felt the way I did. There are many women who are strong and brave who embrace the experience of labour wholeheartedly. And that’s not to say that I wasn’t brave and strong, I was just having trouble locating my strength and bravery at that time.
At some stages during my pregnancy, I was in such a state of panic that I wondered, “can this fear stop labour happening”, and “will my body delay labour because of the crippling fear in my mind”.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, one day at work when I was hiding in a quiet spot, one of my work colleagues approached me and asked me if I was okay? That was the point where it all came out. I was afraid, I felt like a bad mother already, I should be excited, I should be relaxed and enjoying this experience. Well this angel, this one voice of reason turned to me and looked me in the eye and said with all the heart and passion she had, “You are braver than you think you are, you will cope with what’s coming. You can do this, you have got this”.
I now realise what she was saying was that it was my experience. she was not an expert on what my experience was going to be – I was the expert on my experience. It was like a weight had been lifted off my chest. For the first time in months, I actually had some belief that I could do this. One voice amongst all the useful and helpful “advice”, that one voice lifted me back up, back up to a level where although I was worried, I wasn’t paralyzed, I knew I could DO it in my own way.
And it turns out she was correct, I could do it. I did do it and I survived it. I surprised myself with the inner strength that rose up inside me and how my instincts kicked in. It turned out I didn’t only locate my strength and bravery but I utilized them to their full potential.
These days, when I meet pregnant women I like to instill strength and bravery in them, to work with them on their tokophobia and pregnancy anxiety as these are all very normal feelings. Fear of something going wrong in labour and moving past the fear of labour can be worked through with someone in a professional or personal setting.