Less Anxiety During Childbirth

April 3, 2019

After I shared that our son arrived, someone on Instagram asked me if I encountered anxiety during labor and if so, how I got through.

 

I love this question and I’m glad she asked it! I've been pondering it ever since. I feel it's important to discuss, so here I am! Additionally, three of my past coaching clients are pregnant (also with boys!), so I thought this may be helpful.

 

In all honesty, I did not experience anxiety while in labor.

 

Don’t get me wrong-it was the most INTENSE and OVERWHELMINGLY emotional AND physical experience of my life.

 

But at no point did I feel anxious.

 

It may be surprising that I didn’t feel nervous or fearful since I have a history of severe anxiety, but I intentionally prepared my mind and body for labor throughout my pregnancy (and even years before). 

 

I did not want my anxiety to get the best of me for one of the most important times in my life. I also knew being worried would create unnecessary stress hormones that could negatively impact my labor and baby.

 

You know what's interesting? When we were on our babymoon photo shoot in Bermuda, our photographer mentioned how Americans are so fearful of birth, but most other countries view birth as empowering and natural. I found this to be true while I researched and talked with moms.

 

We have a reason to be fearful in America because we have the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world! (I can share more later because it's also an important discussion)

 

So, I spent a TON of time and energy on things that helped me to trust, breathe, be present, and have hope before I went into labor.

 

I’m a big believer in preparing the mind and body ahead of time for any event in life, if possible. I also know that not everyone has the time and resources to do all of this. However, finding a few ways to ease your anxiety in advance is essential if you don't want anxiety to overcome your child's birth.

 

{And I am totally aware everyones’ experiences are different. Furthermore, not everything is in our control, but there are things we can do to avoid anxiety from taking over.}
 

1. Rid the Negativity

I ignored others’ negative birth stories. It seemed liked everyone wanted to share their experience, yet I didn't find them helpful. I blocked others’ fears being projected onto me. People weren’t always positive when I talked about my birth plan, so I didn’t share it often. I believed in it and that’s all that mattered. Of course I knew things could occur out of my control and my baby's health was a priority, but I refused to live in fear and absorb others' emotions and traumas (that they clearly never dealt with).

 

2. Find the Positive

I read and listened to many empowering stories about water labor and natural/unmedicated childbirth. I enjoyed the midwife birth stories in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. It showed me how amazing the female body is and what the mind is capable of. I talked with a friend who had a similar birth plan to mine. All of these helped me to build confidence.

 

3. Work on Mindset

I did a hypnobirthing class and practiced breathing and mindfulness daily. Whenever I felt stressed at work or any area in my life, I worked on grounding myself. I also knew I didn't want to impact the baby's health, so that kept me motivated.

 

4. Trust the Body

I practiced prenatal yoga to trust and flow in my body and connect with my baby as much as possible. I also went for walks to breathe in fresh air and squatted daily to feel strong.

 

5. Slow Down

I tried to rest and relax as much as I could. (They call it labor for a reason!) I napped more than I ever have. I took lots of lavender baths. I cut out as much stress as possible so I had more time for my own self-care. (This started years before I was pregnant)

 

6. Acupuncture and Natural Remedies

I went to acupuncture with an amazing doctor of Chinese Medicine bi-weekly and took certain herbs and supplements to stay grounded and to prepare for labor. (Lots of red raspberry leaf tea too!)

 

7. Find Support

In addition to my acupuncturist, I had a good support team with family and friends and a knowledgeable midwife at a baby-friendly certified hospital. She was highly recommended for the type of birth I desired and I met her years before we actually got pregnant through IVF. My husband followed along with what I wanted and was by my side while I labored mostly at home and then in the hospital. (I did not hire a doula, but I highly recommend them and wish I had for even more labor support!)

 

8. Visualize

I journaled often, listened to positive affirmations and spent time visualizing our baby and having him here, which made me excited rather than afraid! This is super important because it's such an amazing time in life and we need to remember to feel the excitement and let it overcome the fear.

 

I hope this is helpful! As you can see, I dedicated lots of time, energy and finances into my experience. Again, I realize this isn't easy for everyone, but choose a couple things to focus on and remind yourself that the less anxious you feel, the better it is for the entire experience and for your baby and recovery!

 

This is supposed to be one of the most natural and empowering experiences for a woman. If you trust yourself and your provider, it will make a world of difference leading up to it. Remember to advocate for yourself before and during labor. If something doesn't feel right, speak up. This is your body and baby. The more we acknowledge this, the bigger difference we can make for expecting moms all over the country.

 

{Someday I may share my birth story, but I’m not quite ready to write out all the details just yet. However, I am incredibly proud that I was able to go forward with my birth plan! I labored without any medication nor interventions and I had a healthy baby boy!}

 

xoxo,

Shayna

 

P.S.

 

Resources:

 

The Mama Natural

The Mindful Mom-to-Be

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Expecting You: A Keepsake Pregnancy Journal 

The Birth Book

 

P.P.S.

Our 4-part fertility journey series is up on the blog!

 

 

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