Oh my goodness the stories on some of these pregnancy forums! Guess what?! Reading all those horror birth stories may not be the best idea. Did you know the fear of childbirth is a real thing? Yup, it's called Tokophobia. And guess what; reading horror stories can fuel this fear.
I totally get it. I was there. When you don't know what to expect from the pain or know how birth is going to turn out, you turn to those who have been there, done that. We google, listen to our friends, and turn to online forums for others' experiences and advice.
However, being scared of birth doesn't do you or your baby any good. In fact, it can make things a lot worse. We refer to this situation as the Fear, Tension, Pain cycle. The more scared you are, the more you tense up, and the more pain you feel. In addition, you can actually cause your labor to go on longer than necessary. As hard as it is to imagine, staying relaxed and accepting the pain - even welcoming it - is what can help progress labor.
Fear is also a problem during pregnancy. You stress hormones transfer to the baby and there are multiple studies indicating that this can lead to behavioral problems in infants and children.
So, how do you get prepared for birth and decrease the fear of the unknown? Take a childbirth class and hire a doula. This way, you get the facts, have someone to problem solve with you, and have the tools you need to separate legitimate concerns from the unlikely. As an example, a lot of women fear that their water is going to break and they aren't going to go into labor or that their baby is going to be too big to birth. The facts are that waters break before labor begins only 10% of the time and only 16% of babies who are diagnosed as "too big" are actually born too big to birth.
What other horror stories have you heard that have left you worried? Reply back to me and we can discuss these concerns!
Read more about this study and Lamaze International's response.