As you may have gathered from my posts on 5 things to do if you suffer from birth anxiety and 20 helpful ways to deal with your birth anxiety talking to someone is always on the list. There are lots of reasons for this but most importantly talking will;
- give you a way to vent any stress or anxieties about the birth
- help you to organise your thoughts and understand exactly how you are feeling
- let people around you know you are struggling
- get you any extra support you need that might help
And whilst talking to anyone will help, there are a few people that it is worthwhile including in conversations about your birth anxiety as they will be able to help you the most.
This is probably your other half (but may not be). Whoever it is, make sure they are aware that you are feeling worried about the birth. Your birthing partner is your advocate in the labour room. There might be times when you’re not able to think straight or make decisions so this is where your birthing partner has to speak up for you. Your birthing partner is also the one who will be with you the most during labour so they are well placed to help you stay calm and feeling OK. Make sure you talk to them in advance. Discuss what you’d want to happen in certain situations. And also make sure you cover what you’d want to happen if things don’t go to plan (e.g. needing interventions).
Knowing that you are going into the labour room with someone who will support you will really help to reduce your anxiety. If you know that there is someone you can trust to speak up for you then it means you can relax and feel safe.
Talking to your midwife about any anxieties is really important. Not only will your midwife be able to reassure you but she can recommend certain elements in your birth plan that will help you feel less anxious. It might be that you both decide that being allowed on to the labour ward even if you are not progressed enough will reduce fears that you won’t get the help you need. Or that you can have an early epidural if you ask for one. Of course, there are no guarantees in labour but being open about what frightens you will give you and your midwife the best chance of making sure it doesn’t happen.
The other reason to talk to your midwife is that they can refer you on to additional support services. It may be that they can help you access counselling or get support from a mental health midwife. Or that they can refer you to a consultant to talk about potential options. They may also have contact details for services outside the hospital that might help so they really are a good person to confide in.
Most people that you talk to are likely to want to reassure you, give you their story or opinion on it and offer their suggestions on what you need to do. Talking to someone trained in helping people with anxiety is different. They will listen to you, without judgment, and won’t offer their opinion. This can be really helpful in allowing you the space you need to sort through how you feel without any pressure. It also allows you to say anything that’s on your mind. No matter how silly, irrational or bizarre it sounds. It’s confidential so you don’t have to worry about anyone else finding out how you are feeling. And it’s a space that is there solely for you.
The type of professional you talk to will depend on what you feel you need. Counselling/psychotherapy are listening therapies that are focused on letting you talk about how you feel. It can also focus a great deal on your past and will help you understand what is behind your fears. Coaching is forward looking and practical so will focus on you finding the actions that you can take to feel more empowered. Hypnotherapy is different again, working with your subconscious whilst under hypnosis. Whatever you choose, find a practitioner that you trust and like as this will give you a better outcome.
I’m a big fan of doula’s. I’ve no doubt that if I’d had a doula in my first labour it would have been very different. I would always suggest that you consider having a doula at your birth as, essentially, they are a birthing partner who knows what they are doing! They are trained to support women in birth and are very positive about a woman’s ability to cope with labour. If you are anxious about childbirth then it is even more worthwhile considering a doula. They meet with you before hand which can help you to feel calmer about the birth. And then, when you’re in labour, you will have a familiar face with you the whole time as well as someone who will be able to reassure you, help you to relax and support you through from start to finish.
Even if you don’t end up hiring a doula it pays to talk to a few just to see if they can help you. If nothing else, they will make you feel like birth is a wonderful experience that you can totally get through.
Yes I know, lots of other mums can have horror stories which, quite frankly, you just don’t need to hear. But they can also be a fabulous source of inspiration, encouragement and support. Other mums will know exactly what you are going through. They may well have been in your position and have come out the other side. It can be really reassuring to hear that you are not alone in how you feel. That there are other women who feel (or felt) the same way you do about birth. It can also be really reassuring to know that other women have been able to get through childbirth. Some of them with amazing stories to tell. Seek out other mums who have been where you are. They will be able to tell that it’s going to be OK and you’ll believe them, because, well, they should know.
So there you have it. 5 people that you should talk to about how you are feeling. And if you are anxious about giving birth and want to have a coaching session with me to help you feel calmer, happier and more positive about your upcoming birth then get in contact here or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve got your back on this one!
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