by Patricia Hughes
The final stage of pregnancy can cause anxiety for many women. Fear of labor is real. A study done in Sweden in 2001 showed that fear resulted in more medication used in labor. The study was done on first time mothers and showed that more drugs were needed for women who exhibited fear before and during labor. Fear can take many forms, such as the fear of the unknown, pain or fear that results from hearing horror stories from friends or family about difficult labors.
Fear of labor has gained attention in recent years. In the year 2000, an article in the British Journal of Psychiatry addressed this fear. It is known as tokophobia, or the fear of childbirth. This fear is now classified as a psychiatric disorder. The study discussed in the article showed that fears resulted in an increase in night mares and panic attacks.
There are many reasons that women fear labor. One is that [tag-cat]childbirth[/tag-cat] is often shrouded in mystery. Women don’t grow up seeing labor or babies being born. In past generations, babies were born at home. Young women saw siblings, nieces and cousins born throughout their lives. When it came time to have a baby, they were less likely to fear the process. Young women today experience fear of the unknown when they are pregnant. For most women, their own baby is the first they will see born.
Over the past hundred years, birth has become a medical event. Throughout human history, babies were born at home with a midwife in attendance. It’s only in the past several generations that birth has moved from home to the hospital. The medical environment with the machines, sounds, smells and medical staff may elicit fear.
The best way to deal with the fear of the unknown is to learn about labor and childbirth. Read books about birth and take a childbirth preparation class. You can borrow books from friends or the library. The more you know about the process of birth, the more you will be able to trust in your body’s ability to give birth.
Television shows that depict [tag-ice]birth[/tag-ice] may seem like a good source of information. That is not always the case. Some of these shows depict high risk pregnancies and births with complications. They may leave you feeling nervous and more afraid. It can make you think all births are complicated. This is not the case and will make you worry needlessly. Watch videos that your childbirth educator suggests for a good idea of a normal birth.
Once you have learned about birth, create a birth plan. Your birth plan spells out what you want and what you want to avoid in labor. Creating a birth plan can help you feel more in control. This often helps alleviate fear. Discuss your birth plan with your doctor or [tag-tec]midwife[/tag-tec]. Give copies to your doctor, the hospital, your labor coach and pack one in your bag.
Look for ways to let go of the fear. A hypnobirthing class may be a good choice if you fear labor. This method uses self hypnosis to deal with pain in childbirth. It helps relieve fear and keep you relaxed. The program has CDs for each trimester for you to practice at home. Use visualization and relaxation exercises to help reduce fear as well.
Patricia Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding. In addition, she has written about home décor and travel.
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