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Let’s talk about fear. I have found that fear, when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth is by far the biggest hurdle to overcome, and covers the broadest range of emotions.

As soon as you have pee’d on that little stick and two glorious lines pop up, the feelings of elation and joy quite often fade into the background.

The first fear surfaces; ‘Will my baby be alright?” Quite often followed by “is this normal?” From anything to the normal cramping of a never stretched before uterus, to morning/afternoon/night sickness. As your pregnancy progresses, it’s usually “Will I cope during labour?”. “Will I be able to vaginally deliver my large baby?”

There are many theories that suggest, that we as a western civilization have these fears instilled in us from a young age.

From the many outside influences of media, recent medical statistics, family or friends horror stories and the extreme, rare incidences of horrible unpredictable complications.

Primitive man (woman) knew of her abilities, yes she knew of childbirth related deaths, stillbirths etc. But she and her community of women attendants, trusted, had confidence that their pregnancy and birth were all normal part of life. A ritual and right of passage in and of itself.

A long labour didn’t mean she was broken, they knew that their babies and their bodies had their own unique timeframe. Her attendants knew best how to serve her, they fed, bathed, provided hydration.

They followed her cues, if she wanted to rest, she rested, if she needed to walk, rock sway, and moan.

They stood with her, and facilitated all of these things, they would sway with her, encourage her to move, encourage her to vocalise. They knew that the optimal position for babies decent, and eventual birth, was an upright position.

They knew that there’s a season for everything, a season has it own time frame, and it can’t be rushed. It can’t be wished to come faster or end sooner. If a mother struggled, they held her, they blessed her with prayers and herbs, and they performed rituals to ease her mind and body.

They knew like every other force of nature, birth, is its own force of nature.

It was just as blessed and sacred event, as the changing of the seasons, the harvest, the abundance of food, the rites of passage of each member of their community.

Hieroglyphs, carvings, statues of primitive women all have the one current theme. The birthing mother would squat or kneel, using rocks, trees, or people for support.  The theme was there. Basically – they followed their instincts.

What did primitive women know that modern woman do not?

Instinct told them, what we now know. The best physiological position for a woman is upright, allowing her not only to sway and move to help baby’s decent into the pelvis. But also to allow the sacrum – the only mobile part of the pelvis to open, to facilitate the baby’s head and shoulders to pass easily through the pelvis and perineum.

 

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Modern women, who adopt this approach in labour have been found to have shorter labours, shorter deliveries, less damage to the perineum (if any). Less need for narcotic or localised pain relief (epidural). Feel more empowered and have a greater chance of enjoying their births.

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As you can see, in the first diagram here; with the mother on her back, there is no room for the sacrum to move. Her pain is harder to manage, all of the pressure of the baby’s head is in one area. The pressure is not evenly distributed. The mother has to fight against gravity to push baby out, at an almost right angle. There is more likely to be trauma to the perineum because of this.

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In the second diagram, the mother is upright, pressure is evenly distributed. The baby can descend easier, the mother is working with gravity to push baby out, there is a greatly reduced risk of damage to the perineum. The mother tends to manage pain levels better.

Personally, I have been very fortunate, I have birthed all of my babies naturally. I’ve had active labours and births, and been able to follow my instincts, and choose what position I delivered in. All ten of them being in a hospital. We can choose our births, we can choose to labour the way we wish. As long as you are informed, you know your rights as a paying individual.

You are the only person, who can decide what you want. Labour and birth the way you want.

We don’t need to buy into the fear of the many, because of the scary scenarios of the few. Take the fear, and send it on its way. We would not be here if women hadn’t been able to birth their babies. Take back your confidence in yourself.

Believe in yourself, your body knows what to do.

  • Thank you for the informative and interesting article.

    Reply

  • I was only ever scared of labour because…well it’s fear of the unknown isn’t it? The first was scarey and all others that followed too as you never know what will happen with any labour. The fear of pain was real too

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  • I was fearful with my first labour but it is so unknown and it doesn’t matter how many stories you hear bad or good it doesn’t prepare you for your own labour. Once you have experienced your own labour you felt much better and in control of my subsequent labours.

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  • I think it is normal to be fearful of giving birth for the first time. It’s a completely unknown experience that WILL hurt and also change our lives completely. Fear is only an issue if it turns into OTT worrying or avoidance. Otherwise I say embrace the fear a bit and use it to explore your feelings about birth and find out more information to quell the particular fears that are bothering you.

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  • I stood up with my third and she was born super quick, unlike with my first two where the midwives had me lying on my back. Tried and true.

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  • Fear is such a strong thing, when you are so right our bodies know what they need to do. Sometimes I think we just need to trust ourselves a little bit more

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  • I focused on my breathing and hubby timed the contractions, two amazing beings that birthed two amazingly wonderful babies.
    Thanks for the wonderful article Teresa.

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  • It is so much better than it used to be. My mother said when she delivered she was given ether to render her unconscious for the delivery. She had no idea what contractions were. Fathers were not permitted into delivery room either. It was all rather barbaric. No wonder the death rate was so high. She said in her day, they were on strict bed rest for the week following birth, and their legs were bound together! Every thing was done to them. Babies were only brought to mother for feeding then returned to nursery where only staff were allowed entry and there was a big push to formula feeding. How times have changed.

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  • clearly explained , should take out the fear .

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  • so many fears! for me it was the pain lol!! and the fear came true when its was too late for the epidural.
    also just the general fear of miscarriage/still down during pregnancy is always there.
    then the fears of the tearing ouch!! and I hope I don’t poop on the table lol

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  • It’s amazing what the human body can do! Incredible!

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  • Oh i am so scared of child birth. My daughter was born by caesarean and i have no idea what labour pains are or anything as it was a scheduled birth. I am scared about having a natural birth. I have heard some terrible stories.

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  • I was terrified of child birth, so much so I knew I wanted an epidural. And typical of mother nature this didn’t happen. My first birth was 7 hours long, natural with a lot of screaming & grunting. But with the help of 2 AMAZING midwives I birthed my little boy with no tearing & no judgement. For my 2nd I knew I was going to do it naturally. I LOVED my 2nd birth — it was in the water, with no tearing (again) & no screaming. I am still amazed with what I bodies are capable of & I feel extremely blessed to have birthed to 2 amazing boys… and I want to do it again as well!!!

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  • The daughter of a friend of mine was in labour for 30 hours before having an emergency
    c-section. Her husband took her to hospital once, they checked her and sent her home.
    As her labour progressed slowly, she weakened and had such severe labor pains that she could hardly walk, he rang the hospital and was told there was no beds available. An hour later she started vomitting so he rang the hospital to say she was going in and to have a bed ready as he refused to take her home until at least 2 days after the birth.
    Had a Dr. not walked past her room when he did, the nurses were going to let her stay in labor for longer. 3 Epidurals had no effect at all. The Dr. told the nurses “theatre now” They just stood there and looked at him. He then yelled at them” theatre now not later”. The father was present and very upset at the attitude of the midwives. The baby was in foetal distress when she was rushed to theatre. The Mum now has back pains that she has never had prior to the birth at all, probably caused by bad epidural placement.

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  • I mainly fear would I need stitches again

    Reply

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