Why Do We Fear Birth?
Updated: Sep 8
For most people, just the thought of childbirth gets their heart racing, their palms sweating, the blood draining away from their face.
Infact, our society has become so fearful of childbirth, that the number of planned caesarean deliveries because of fear has increased markedly in the Western World*.
However, many women don't realise that cesarean deliveries are associated with increased risk of maternal complications. So it isn't necessarily the 'way out' they'd hoped for.
Ultimately, this decision and the very notion of fear is caused by one thing; a lack of education.
Physiologically, the way we give birth has not changed for thousands of years. However, many things associated with childbirth has.
In today's world our expectations of birth are different to the 1950s, let alone caveman times. We now have pain management options, the way women are supported is different and we have the use of technology through pregnancy and birth.
Although fortunate for such advances, these factors have changed women's attitudes and expectations and can cause birth to move from a normal, natural event to one that is medically managed.
This coincides with all the messages we receive around us. The negative birth stories passed down from generation to generation. The media with films, soaps, and edited documentaries that sensationalise childbirth. And as each woman then experiences her own difficult birth, so it continues.
The expectation of pain and the presence of fear during labour creates emotional responses where stressor hormones called catecholamines and adrenalin are triggered.
These set off our innate 'fight, flight or freeze' response. This subconscious, automatic response occurs when we're in danger and gives us strength to stand and fight, run away or freeze and feign death.
This means the blood vessels contract, redirecting the blood toward the heart, lungs and major muscles groups to help fuel the reaction. What happens then, is oxygen moves away from the uterus and the baby.
This leads to unfavourable outcomes. But if the body is so clever, why on earth would it do this? Quite simply, it comes down to survival. If we fear birth, we go into survival mode.
What society needs then, is to learn that birth is not something to be feared. This is why many women are turning to the Hypnobirthing, to conquer fear and take back control.
Women are gradually realising that by educating themselves they're taking back some kind of control. They also realise that birth can be a natural event - it's their body, their baby, and their choice.
Hypnobirthing retrains the subconscious to believe that birth is not something to be feared. We work on promoting endorphins and oxytocin, which are the body's natural pain relief and work to fight off those negative hormones such as adrenaline.
This is just one of the things we can do to take control of our birth. There is so much we can do to help our bodies through it, both physically and mentally. I give my clients a toolbox of tips and tricks to support the body through birth.
The birth programme I teach also puts emphasis on 'the right birth on the day'. That's means no matter what path your birthing take, so long as you felt in control, that all decisions were yours and you look back and feel positive about your birth experience, then your winning!
For information on my upcoming courses, click here.
* Studies by: Saisto T, Halmesmaki E. Fear of childbirth: a neglected dilemma. Huizink AC, Mulder EJH, de Medina PGR, Visser GHA, Buitelaar JK. Is pregnancy anxiety a distinctive syndrome?Saisto T, Salmela‐Aro K, Nurmi J, Halmesmãki E. Psychosocial characteristics of women and their partners fearing vaginal childbirth. Spice K, Jones SL, Hadjistavropoulos HD, Kowalyk K, Stewart SH. Prenatal fear of childbirth and anxiety sensitivity.