What to Do When You’re Scared to Give Birth

Early in pregnancy, most women worry about what they should and shouldn't be doing to ensure the baby's safety, how they’re feeling (and whether they should feel worse or better), and when their belly will start to show. Later on though, as the months begin to tick by and the big day gets closer and closer, many women start to worry a lot about what giving birth will be like. Whether you’re planning an all-natural home birth or a scheduled C-section, the idea of giving birth can be a scary one. If you’re getting closer and closer to your baby’s birthday (and more and more scared), here’s how you can cope with fear around birth.

Image via Unsplash/ Mickael Tournier

{ MORE: Study Shows Midwives Bring Many Benefits to Safer Birth Outcomes }

Take a childbirth education class

Sometimes, the scariest thing about giving birth is the unknown. While taking a childbirth education class might not quell all of your fears, knowing what to expect and what’s normal can help you feel better about the birth process. During a childbirth education class, you’ll learn how labor and birth work, what’s normal, how you might feel, and what you can do to ease any pain you might feel during labor and delivery. Taking this sort of class with your birth partner can also ensure you’re on the same page about what interventions you’re comfortable with and how they can best support you as you move through the birth process.

Take a tour of the facility where you’ll be delivering

Just like taking a birth class will help you feel more comfortable with what will be happening with your body during birth, taking a hospital or birth center tour can help you feel more comfortable with where you’ll be as you labor and deliver. Take the opportunity to ask lots of questions, locate important areas in the facility, and get to know the nurses or care providers who will be by your side on the big day and you’ll likely walk out feeling much better about where and how you’ll be delivering.

Share your concerns with a loved one

Often, talking about our fear and concerns can help us process them. Just sharing that you are scared and the specifics of what you're scared of can sometimes help alleviate the fear that’s been swirling around in your mind. Talking about your fears with a loved one who can be your advocate might also help you make a plan for what you and they will do if any of your fears, like an emergency C-section or an unwelcome visitor showing up at the hospital, come true. Having a plan to handle these situations can make you much less fearful of them.

{ MORE: As the Due Date Approaches, Panic Sets In }

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Write a birth plan

Some people love birth plans while other people find that they’re not their cup of tea. Writing out your hopes and goals for your labor and delivery can help make it clear to yourself, your advocates, and your care providers what you want to happen. As you write your plan, consider the best case scenarios as well as those you might be more concerned about.

Prepare what you can

Birth is the start of one of life’s biggest changes and it’s natural to worry about what labor, birth, and parenting will be like and how your life might change once your baby is making their way earthside. Preparing in small ways, like packing your hospital bag, preparing your baby’s room, and putting some towels in the car just in case your water breaks in public can help you feel more at ease about the big changes coming your way.

Talk to your care provider about your concerns.

Your care provider is there to help you make a healthy, happy transition into parenthood. If your concerns and fears are getting in the way of making this a happy transition, talking with your care provider can help. Often they can answer questions that will ease your mind and, if you find yourself still consumed with fear, they can likely recommend a therapist who can help you process your fear and get ready for the big day!

Fear about birth is natural and normal but don’t let it take away your joy. Instead, work to address your fear head-on by following the tips above so that you can look forward to your big day with joy and excitement rather than fear or dread.

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What to Do When You’re Scared to Give Birth

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com ... More

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