Q & A: How Do Women Deal With The Fear Of Childbirth?

pregnant woman, pregnant belly, sassterhood blog, fear of childbirthThe other day on Quora, I encountered this question:

Why are women not afraid of childbirth?

My answer:

I believe that whoever said that women are not afraid of childbirth has either never been pregnant and given birth or is playing with your head or, they are lying. Yes, definitely lying!

Or, and this is the biggest OR, it might be a wise, more experienced woman who had given birth and is making sure that you don’t feel too afraid to go through the process.

By the way, the concerns in the article you are referring to (article about fear of childbirth) are completely legit and natural (and if a woman didn’t have those concerns she’d be a freak of nature!)

My personal experience? I heard over and over again that childbirth wasn’t as bad as others made it out to be. This was the case every single time, from every woman in my life to whom I confided my hesitation, fear, disgust or questions about how things happen during childbirth (What does it feel like? Do you poop? Do you tear? Will they cut you open? How much will it hurt? etc. etc.) It almost made me angry how every woman I asked had a way of minimizing the ugly truth and the obvious pain of childbirth. I KNEW the pain was beyond bearable and way too real but not one single person would fess up.

I can’t speak for all women but having given birth less than 6 months ago, I can tell you that I was afraid. Like, AFRAID, big time. Since I couldn’t get the real facts from the women I knew, I read stories of childbirth on the web, in the books and on multiple pregnancy forums, and I grew more and more terrified.

As my pregnancy progressed, I accepted that my fear of childbirth was part of the process. Billions upon billions of women before me had babies. I knew the baby was coming and it was unavoidable. The closer I got to my due date, the more at peace I became with that UNAVOIDABLE.

The pragmatic in me finally won over and I decided that drowning in fear was a waste of my time. Don’t get me wrong, the fear of childbirth was still there, fully palpable and always within reach, every minute of every day and night (you don’t sleep so well towards the end of pregnancy). However, the fear no longer dictated the outcome for me. I knew that the outcome would be a baby boy, whether I was afraid or not. So instead, I focused my energy on anticipating his arrival and wondering what he’d be like…

And then my baby boy was born.

And now I understand why women minimize the pain.

Well, first of all, I had an epidural early on. Still, the sciatica pain was all too real when the baby was making his way out and even with the epidural, I did feel a LOT of pain an hour (or two?) before I started pushing. Hands down, giving birth was the HARDEST thing I’ve ever done. Physically, it seems impossible almost all the way to the end. As you lay there, grasping for leverage and using your entire being to PUSH, you still don’t know how in the world could this baby possibly come out of you! I was so absolutely exhausted, I was literally passing out between the pushes (yep, my eyeballs would roll into the back of my head and I’d take a snooze between contractions). I kept looking questioningly at my doctor and wondering if any progress was made. It felt like the baby would never come out and the pain would never end…

One hour and forty-five minutes later, my 8 lb 4 oz baby boy was out…

The next day, every single muscle in my body was hurting. My face was dotted with purple and red from the capillaries that burst from pushing. All kinds of pains lingered for weeks.

So, you’d think going through all of that would deter me from wanting to have another baby.

It doesn’t.

After all, it WASN’T as bad as I expected it to be. My imagination and my expectations got hijacked by my fear.

And now I’m one of those wise, more experienced women…

Why are women not afraid of childbirth?

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