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Preparing for Birth: Facing My Fears

June 16, 2011

I have hesitated about posting this, but finally decided it’s worth the risk if it will benefit others. Hopefully it will. I wrote the following at the prompting of my doula and have been meditating on and praying through it. I don’t usually give caveats to my posts, but please… be nice. I don’t need criticism or horror stories right now, I need encouragement, support, and positive words. Each pregnant woman faces childbirth in different ways and has different desires and expectations. Mine is but one of millions.

Also, this is obviously about childbirth. So… don’t keep reading if you don’t want to. You have been warned. :)

***

I trust my body and the God-designed process of birth. As I concentrate on relaxing, I can feel my body opening up. I visualize my cervix opening, making way for my baby. Each wave is a sign of progress — one step closer to meeting my precious baby boy. As I visualize my body opening, I see a flower opening, as if in a time-lapse, in my mind’s eye.

My body is connected intimately to my mind. As I release my fears, my body is more fully able to do the work God created it to do. I am at peace and trusting God for the outcome of this perfectly normal process. An important part of the mind-body connection is recognizing, facing, and releasing my fears ahead of time.

The fears I have for the birth of my son include

1.  Labor starting with my waters breaking in some inconvenient location such as the store, church, the car, etc.

Though I know only about 10% of labors begin this way, this may be my biggest fear. I am a planner by nature and appreciate some advance warning. I recognize that I have no control over how and when labor begins. The first signal is exciting. However my labor begins is the best for my baby and me.

2.  Labor lasting for days.

This fear stems from worrying about running out of strength and energy and the possible consequences. I will refrain from watching the clock when labor begins. Jeff can track times for reference. Early labor does not count toward the time of the real thing — active labor is what really counts. I will focus on the moment I’m in while in labor rather than on what may be ahead. My body and my baby will take all the time they need for a successful birth.

3.  Throwing up during labor.

This is a mild fear based on a friend throwing up with every contraction when her daughter was born, and my own vomiting from extreme physical exertion (usually accompanied by extreme heat). I am not afraid of throwing up at some point in labor, only of continuously experiencing it. My body will retain all of the fluids and energy it needs to birth my baby.

I refuse to be influenced by the culture of fear surrounding childbirth that has become so prevalent in our culture and society today. I look forward to rather than dread the birth of my baby.

I am not under the illusion that childbirth will be easy. Quite the opposite! I know it will take a lot of hard work and, accordingly, I am working now to prepare for it, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I want to work with my body, not against it, for labor pains are pain with a purpose. What a great reward awaits at the end!

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. June 16, 2011 10:59 am

    Sarah, this is absolutely beautiful, and I’m very glad you shared it. I’ve been thinking of you a lot recently and praying that you would know the peace of Christ–in whom we live and move and have our being (rather like a womb, eh?)–as you partner with him in the wonderful work of bringing life into the world.

  2. Lynnette permalink
    June 16, 2011 11:09 am

    Many, many years ago, we didn’t really know as much as we do now. Ignorance was bliss for me! I didn’t even talk to people about having babies! And, God helped me through. I didn’t know enough to be afraid!

    Interesting that my first started with water breaking and I also threw up with my first but I don’t remember much about that now. You are so right – your body will do what God created it to do. Relax. It’s a natural thing and soon you will be holding him!

  3. Megan permalink
    June 16, 2011 11:09 am

    You are going to do GREAT!!! You’ve prepared yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually better than most I talk to. You’ve thought through the process and your fears and hopes of how your labor and delivery will happen. But, you are exactly right – the most important thing is trusting in God through the day (or night whenever it happens) and in the end, however your baby boy makes his appearance, is the fact that he makes his appearance and you’ll get to kiss his sweet face in the end!!

    I remember those final weeks of my pregnancy and just feeling so strange that I didn’t know when the birth was going to happen. When you got married, you knew the time and date and place. All the details had been carefully planned for and you knew what to expect. With childbirth, you plan and prepare and go to showers and open presents and prepare a room and do so much more of the same, only you have NO IDEA when that baby will come. It’s strange.

    During my contractions, I took Brennan Manning’s quote (from The Ragamuffin Gospel) of “Abba Father, I belong to You” and said/breathed that through every. single. contraction. With our method of counting breaths, it fit perfectly. And it was such a comfort to remind myself through that pain and uncertainty and fear that I belonged to our Father, as well as did our son.

    Love you, friend. Praying for these final weeks and that you’ll have a peace that surpasses ALL of your own understanding. He is able.

  4. June 16, 2011 11:13 am

    Sarah, you sound like you are in a great place mentally and emotionally. Addressing these fears and countering them with truth is the best thing you could be doing. (It sounds like you have a great doula!) : )

  5. Kathleen permalink
    June 16, 2011 11:31 am

    Sarah, I too think you are doing so amazing to address these things! You honestly seem so much more prepared than I was! Do you know what my fear was? That I wouldn’t love my child! It was so scarry — and I couldn’t voice it at all (or felt to ashamed to voice it). Of course it seems absurd to me now (I can’t immagine life without Grayson), but at the time — our pregnancy was so unplanned and unexpected — and like yourself — I am a planner. The baby was “outside” of my plan. Thankfully I have a really sweet husband that didn’t doubt my ability — and nourtured my fears! I know Jeff will be that support for you too!

    About the actual birth — my only thought is to be open to things! I was dead set on going natural. No way was I going to take drugs! And yes — I did experience vomiting among other things. However, because I also did experience a very long labor…drugs ended up being necessary. At the time, I was so bummed (more than just plans changing, I think I wanted to “proove” to myself that I was strong enough to handle it — a VERY silly reason)! Almost imediatly after my light epidural — I felt so much better! The nausia went away — I could relax and sleep. God knew what was best for me, the baby, and my body…and I just needed to give up “my plan” and let him take control. :)

    I hope this helps! I will be praying for you in the next several weeks! We don’t live too far north — so let me know if you need anything!

  6. June 16, 2011 12:35 pm

    You will find that fear will not take over once labor begins. The most overwhelming feeling you will have through the entire process is excitment that you are finally going to meet your baby boy!

    Also, since I did have a long labor, I want to encourage you not to be afraid of that. I was in labor for 34 hours. That sounds more terrible than it actually was. It was exhausting, yes, but certainly not terrible. I had hoped and prepared for a natural childbirth but after about 18 hours (including being up all night), I desperately needed rest and opted for an epidural. I am not disappointed that I did it, nor do I regret it. That’s what I needed both for myself and my baby to finsh the birth process. If you find that you need to make such a decision, I want to encourage you not to feel like you’re “giving up” or anything like that. Sometimes things don’t happen the way we envision them, and that’s okay! Hopefully, you won’t even need to make that choice and you can have exactly what you hope for! But I want to encrouage you to prepare your heart for a change in plans if it truly becomes necessary. My OB was very supportive of a natural birth but warned me out of experience to prepare for a contingincy plan. I’m glad he did!

  7. Jenny (Walker) Hokuf permalink
    June 16, 2011 3:48 pm

    What a great idea! A good way to get fears out in the open — they definitely have less power that way. It sounds like you’re preparing in the best way possible. You can do this! I think the process is kind of like waiting to play a soccer game. Nerves and anxiety leading up to the event, undoubtedly, but as soon as the whistle blows and the game begins, everything else disappears. You’re absorbed in the moment and the game, and everything else falls away. And for every period of “intensity,” you always get a break to rest and regroup.

    You can do this!! You will be amazing!

  8. Desi Johnson permalink
    June 16, 2011 3:51 pm

    It’s good to get that out in the open, isn’t it? My labor started with waters breaking. Fortunately, it was at home. And really, it was the signal I needed that I was actually in labor (I had prodromal labor for weeks beforehand). Even with gushing at each contraction, I still denied that I was in labor for quite some time! ;) It wasn’t scary at all and actually quite humorous. My fear this time is that my water WON’T break at the start, lol. I know it’s supposed to be less painful with your bag in intact, but just knowing that this next experience will be different from the last is a cause of stress. No matter what happens with your first or subsequent births, there is always the “unknown” for the next one. But as each day passes, I get more and more excited to meet our new baby! You will be amazed by how much energy and motivation you have when the big day arrives. Especially right at “the end”—it’s like you are filled with this strength and power you had no idea you possessed. It’s surreal. You will do great!

  9. Jenny (Walker) Hokuf permalink
    June 16, 2011 4:01 pm

    Also…just another perspective to add to what others are saying. If you find yourself in a situation where your body is taking its sweet time…a “longer” labor is absolutely doable. I have a good friend who has long labors, 24 hours or more for both children and has successfully given birth without drugs both times. I think her key has been relaxing, staying home (this is HUGE! Soooo helpful!), staying calm and not panicking, and like you mentioned, staying in the moment and dealing with one thing at a time. She has shared with me that, though her labors were long, they were manageable because her contractions were far apart the entire time. More time to rest, more time to recover. You can do anything for a short time!

  10. June 16, 2011 6:33 pm

    praying for peace for you, Sarah! i had my 2 at home, and so much of it IS just refusing to let your mind get you in a bad place (“how much longer” “i can’t do it” “i hate this!”) and just keep reminding yourself you CAN do it, it WILL end at some point, and there will be an adorable baby WHEN it does end! (we can share war stories after you are united with your new love!) ;)

  11. June 16, 2011 11:44 pm

    oops! also, i just wanted to let you know that my post today is about noah’s birth–just in case you wanted to read it AFTER you’ve had your birth. :)

  12. Alice Stevenson permalink
    June 17, 2011 11:46 am

    Sarah, I found the greatest help during labor was that I had trained relaxation to these two Bible verses:

    Is. 26:3, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.

    Is. 41;10, Fear thou not, for I am with thee. Be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

    God did it. Even now those verses bring an immediate calm to my soul during difficult times. He will do the same for you.

  13. Joy permalink
    July 5, 2011 7:02 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve been reflecting recently on the birth of my 2nd son. He’s 9 weeks old now. I can really relate to that “culture of fear” surrounding childbirth you mentioned. I dealt with a lot of fear through my first pregnancy. There is so much unknown. But with the 2nd pregnancy, I went into labor on my own and quickly. The pain is real, as you agree you know. But my encouragement is that it was not more than I could handle. I have read so many women’s stories that the same is true for them. We’re scared into thinking it is so awful – and it is an ordeal- but it isn’t unbearable, even if the height of my pain I remember thinking – Wow, I can do this! And I’m not super tolerant of pain :) God will give you what you need. :)
    ps-As a new mom, you might be interested in this resource. I wish I’d had it the first time around. It’s called the Moms’ Guide to Caring for Little Teeth (http://www.1dental.com/moms-guide/). I’ve learned that I need to wipe my baby’s gums after each feeding to prevent cavities, especially if you’re using formula. Hope this can be a help to you and congratulations on your baby! Look forward to hearing more about how things went.

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