Fear of giving birth is very natural and yet it can be all-consuming. I’m sharing my top strategies to help you overcome your fear of childbirth.
Battling my Fears Of Childbirth for The First Time:
With my first child, I was very anxious about childbirth. I listened to hundreds of episodes of the Australian Birth Stories Podcast. I was worried about losing control and becoming an awfully crabby version of myself. I was afraid of being rude to the midwives and not being a good representative of Christ. For a control freak like me, I found it difficult not knowing what to expect or how it would all turn out in the end. I spent hours every week journaling and reflecting on God’s promises in Scripture. My birth ended up being very traumatic and I brought my child home only to learn about his thing called COVID-19 later that week. I was weak, sleep deprived, confused, sore and alone, yet those months of prep in the lead-up to my birth ended up being what gave me peace in a world that turned upside down. Any time bad news came my way or I encountered another obstacle, the birth affirmations and Bible verses I memorised came to mind.
Round 2: Giving Birth Again After a Traumatic Birth:
Two and a half years later, the time came for me to give birth again. I could feel the baby was getting big inside my tummy. I had an induction date organised. And yet, I cried because I didn’t feel ready to go through birth again and more than that, I didn’t feel ready to have a newborn and become a mother of two. I was exhausted after a long and painful pregnancy. Lonely from living away from home as a RAAF wife. Uncertain of my abilities to be a good mum to both of my children. I had already been through post-partum before and I knew how hard it was going to be.
I feel guilty to admit this, but I want my blog to be a place I can be really honest with you and I know there would be other mums out there feeling the same. I cried because I didn’t feel excited to have my baby. Other than the necessities like nappies, I hadn’t bought anything. I hadn’t been praying for him like I should have been. I have pretty much no belly photos. I blame the fact my toddler draws on our mirrors with toothpaste. But I also just didn’t feel like it was something I wanted to do and I felt really bad about that. Up till this point, I had basically been distracting myself from the fact that it was actually happening. I didn’t want to circle my thoughts around how inadequate I felt, and so the easiest thing was to keep busy doing other things.
Until the time that it came to give birth and I had no choice but to face my fears.
Here are 4 strategies to overcome your fear of childbirth that worked for me.
Tip 1: Journaling to Overcome Birth Anxiety During Pregnancy
Journaling has been the Holy Grail of my life. Whilst I have used and recommend different journaling structures for when you’re trying to get started or you’re in a rut, I find just writing freely helps me best when my thoughts are tangled and I feel utterly overwhelmed. I usually read my Bible first to focus my thoughts on the truth. I write a single verse and then I start pouring my thoughts on the page in God’s presence.
Something I found really helpful whilst journaling to face my fears about giving birth again was to write down everything that I was afraid of. Seeing it written down on paper makes your fears look smaller. Write it all out. It may take up one page. It may scrawl over six pages in your journal. But pouring everything out helps you to surrender and give it all to God.
After I’ve got it all out, I write at least a short paragraph which is more of a prayer as I give it to God and declare that I can trust him with it all.
Journaling your fears is the most cathartic thing. I found this time, that once wasn’t enough. Every day or so, more fears started bubbling to the surface and spending a solid week journaling through them really helped me to escape the grip they had on me. It’s okay if the fears don’t melt away after one journaling session. Stick with it. 🙂
Tip 2: Ask For Help if You are Struggling and Think You Could Have Pre-Natal Depression or Anxiety
Golly, learning to ask for help has been a really big one for me this year. I just had the roughest pregnancy and it could not have been more different than the last. With my first child, I worked full time at a private school where 60% of my load was teaching Year 12 classes. I commuted 80 minutes a day for work, lead at church 4 nights a week and still made the time to get to the gym 3-4 times a week. I was super fit and strong. I even went to a gym class after my due date!
This time around, I had debilitating migraines that made me throw up. I used up all my sick leave at my new job. I was unwell and terribly homesick. I got Covid, a feverish case of the Flu and recurring chest infections. I was awake at night for 5 weeks coughing at night, peeing my pants which was utterly humiliating and disgusting. I broke my ribs on three occasions from coughing. My pop passed away. I had to wear compression stockings from 15 weeks onwards because of terribly painful and unsightly varicose veins. Oh and I got gestational diabetes again. All this time, I was working three days a week, caring for my 2 year old and doing a number of solo parenting stints that come with having a husband working away in the Defence Force. It’s been a big year.
I had this heart-breaking moment one time when my husband was away, I was throwing up while my daughter watched TV. I was crying. I needed help but I didn’t know who to call. My mum lived a 10 hour drive away. I realised in that moment the importance of having people who can help.
Since that time, I’ve reached out to two older ladies about my mum’s age who I know are there now if I need them. Whilst I was going through my terrible coughing season, I called the PANDA hotline and I’ve had some really great chats with some ladies in their Peer Support Program. I went to the GP and got myself a few sessions to talk to a psychologist. I knew that I needed to talk to someone other than my husband and I’m proud of myself for asking for help.
Did I have pre-natal depression? I don’t know. But I definitely had really low moments that I think were an accumulation of homesickness, loneliness, isolation and exhaustion. I also had birth trauma that my husband and I had to work through. I’m not kidding, it got so hard, I genuinely started to doubt my faith, wondering how God could possibly let me suffer this much with one thing after another.
There is help out there, so can I encourage you, if you know you don’t feel right – talk to someone.
Here is the link to the PANDA Hotline.
PANDA is dedicated to supporting the mental health and well-being of expecting, new and growing families. Through a range of information, services and programs they support parents and families during pregnancy the first 12 months of a new baby.
And here is a link to one of my besties who has a Masters Degree in counselling and does online sessions if you’d like to talk to a Christian as well. Rachel Amy Counselling
Tip 3: Watch the Sarah’s Day Birth Vlogs on Youtube to Get a Dose of Reality about Childbirth’s Challenges and Joys
Have you been to any parenting or birth classes? My husband and I went to a 6 week program run by midwives at the local hospital and the birth videos they showed us were ridiculous. One of them was following a midwife in Mexico giving birth to her 5th child in the bath at home. Great for her. Relevant for us? Not hugely.
There is this beautiful Youtuber in Sydney and she shared a blog documenting her first and second births. My husband and I watched the first one and we both agreed it was 100x more helpful than the ones we saw at the classes. Both of my births ended up being very similar to hers and so they were really helpful for me to know more of what to expect.
Her videos are raw and authentic and give an accurate depiction of the challenges and pain you experience in labour as well as the joy and beauty of holding your baby in your arms for the first time.
You can watch the videos here: (I challenge you to not cry!)
Tip 4: Use Birth Affirmations to Help You Overcome Your Fears of Birth
I’ve got some birth affirmations that I made for myself that I’ve had a number of people get from my store. Whether you’re a Christian or have a different faith, it’s so important to choose your thoughts. On default, our mind can spiral out in difficult situations. We have to decide ahead of time and over and over again what we truly believe. Tell yourself you were created to give birth. Our bodies were made to produce life and bring babies into this world. You are brave and strong. Tell yourself what you need to in order to get through this season.
Some Final Thoughts on How to Deal with the Fear of Giving Birth:
“It’s just one day in your life”.
A friend said this to me once and it stuck with me. She has struggled with anxiety her whole life. She actually left high school in Year 9 because of anxiety. Her struggle has been real and I thought if she can have such a positive outlook, then surely I can too! It truly is just one day. It doesn’t last forever. You will get through it. It will be hard. It will probably hurt. (I have another friend who didn’t think birth would be painful – and she got the shock of her life…).
Yes mamma, it will be difficult, but YOU WERE MADE FOR THIS! You will be amazed how your body just knows what to do. The contractions push the baby down and when pushing time comes, your body just starts squeezing and has a mind of its own. All you need to do is go with the flow. Trust your body and keep your mind sharp. Any time the fears began to creep up on me in my second birth, I just kept thinking of my affirmations over and over again. The one that got me through this time is ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’. That’s what I needed. And at only 2 weeks post-partum now, I’ve still got a lot to go. But I’m no longer afraid of my own inadequacies because I’ve fixed my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith. Trust me, after the most difficult and lonely season, he is all you need. Cling to him.
Much love now and always,