From Two Moms: Our Best Tips to Ease Anxiety around Labor and Birth

It is natural to be anxious about labor and giving birth. I clearly remember the anxiety I had around it. I wasn’t scared necessarily, but I just had literally no idea what to expect and that level of the unknown was unsettling for me. 

I know I am not alone in my anxiety around labor and birth. It is helpful to talk about, so Hope and I have teamed up to share our best tips to ease your anxiety around the impending delivery of your child. 

baby on changing pad

Chelsey’s tips for easing fear around labor and delivery

  • Embrace the unexpected. This was SO hard for me. I wanted to KNOW what labor would feel like, how long it would last, and when it would happen. To help ease the tension of the unknown, I would picture myself doing well, keeping calm, persevering through pain, and the joy of holding my new baby. 
  • Repeat a mantra. During my pregnancy, if I found that I was focusing too much on labor and delivery I would repeat a little mantra to set my mind at ease. I repeated over and over to myself that “this is a natural process. Others have done it and I can too.” But I also took comfort in knowing if something didn’t go to plan that I was in the care of well-trained medical staff to help ensure successful delivery. 
  • Write it down. It may feel like you have a generalized worry about labor, but try writing out specific aspects that you know are nagging at you. This helped me a ton to understand my biggest worries and to address those concerns with other moms, my partner, and my doctor. 
  • Talk to other moms or talk with a doctor. EVERY labor and delivery is different. I would avoid asking a mother about her whole birth story. It might freak you out more. But, I do advise you to ask specific questions about how they dealt with pain, and what they thought was helpful or not helpful during labor. If talking with other moms isn’t helping, talk with your doctor about labor. A more scientific answer around delivery logistics or pain management may be what you are searching for.  
  • Share your fears with your support person. Share what you are nervous about, what you feel will be helpful from them during labor, and what you feel will not be helpful. The more they know, the more supportive they can be. This can greatly reduce anxiety around what is happening during labor. 
  • I am an over thinker. But, I tried really hard not to think too deeply into ALL the things that go into labor or delivery. I found peace in the fact the staff around me has done this before and will help me through it. 

baby on the portable bassinet

Hope’s tips for easing fear around labor and delivery

  • Reframe the pain. Childbirth is NOT a broken leg. It is the only pain you will ever experience that brings something beautiful into your life-- your sweet baby! The cramping and pressure you will experience are all productive work that your body is doing to help bring your baby to you. Even your baby is working with you/ your body as they use their stepping reflex to also push themselves out more and more with every contraction. Every contraction brings your baby closer to being in your arms-- Every. Single. One. 
  • Learn about and practice effective comfort measures. Massage tools, hot water bottles, essential oils, mood lighting-- all can be helpful things to consider using. Focus on gaining coping strategies and practical ideas to help you feel like you can keep discomfort manageable *even if* you plan to use medication. There will be at least some time in every labor where you will need tools to cope. Plus, these things usually feel great in pregnancy too.
  • Education and Preparation. It is important to become knowledgeable about the birth process. Fear causes tension, and tension causes pain. Pain, in turn-- only creates more fear. You can break this cycle by having a better understanding of what is happening with your body, and what to expect in the process.
  • Let it GO! As a major type A mom myself, I understand how tempting it can be to feel like if you have all the right answers, things will go your way. Unfortunately, even the most prepared moms cannot control the outcome of the birth process. You can do all the things to be birth ready for an unmedicated birth, and still, for whatever reason, your baby needs to enter the world via cesarean. This is OKAY! These are wonderful inventions that we can all be so grateful for. Epidurals can allow you to make it through and have a vaginal birth, and cesarean birth is a pathway for babies to be safely delivered when medically necessary. Don’t shame yourself if you didn’t want to make these choices, but find yourself in a situation where it might be necessary to keep moving forward to meet your baby. Making these hard choices DOES NOT say anything about you as a mother (and neither does having an unmedicated, vaginal birth). It is just the way that your baby entered the world, and it is ALL okay! 
  • Know the power of Oxytocin! Here is the thing-- birth is a journey your body will go on. In order for that journey to happen- the SAME hormone that got the baby in will be the primary driver in getting the baby OUT- Oxytocin. In order to let that Oxytocin flow- think about creating the same kind of safe environment that started this whole shebang. Feeling safe with whoever you have in the room with you (including a trusting relationship with your provider), keeping things light soft, and comforting (think massage), and allowing yourself to be in your primal state-- however that looks for you. Noises are OKAY. You might be doing this for the first time, but your care provider has already seen this a hundred or even thousands of times. You won’t shock them- promise.
  • Get to know your new motherhood BFF-- your intuition! This is a very important feeling inside your being that is ALL you. No one else in the world can tell you what she is saying, but she has some VERY important things to say. Listen to her. Get in touch with her. What is she saying? Being in touch with your gut feeling can be a powerful tool in helping you know that you are on the RIGHT path for you-- whatever that looks like for you. Always connect with her again anytime you are uncertain in your motherhood journey. She will not steer you wrong. 

Pregnancy is a time of emotional upheaval. It is very normal to be worried about labor. Find what elements in the process you really want to control and then work on letting the rest of labor naturally happen. You got this, mama!

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