As I said in the first post in the series (read it here at birth anxiety: what is it and why is it important), every woman feels anxious about giving birth.
Which is natural. It’s a big deal. Huge. It leads to the birth of a baby – that’s about as life changing as it gets. So yeah, it’s going to feel a little bit nerve-racking.
But how do we know when it’s not just natural nerves. How can you tell that there is something deeper going on? Something that’s going to need a little more help to get through?
Whilst it’s not always easy to tell, there are a few things that would indicate that you have a more severe anxiety about childbirth (or tokophobia) than most women.
Preoccupation with the birth
Yes, a lot of women think a lot about the impending birth. Particularly as it gets closer. But if you find that you are thinking about the birth a lot, and not in a positive way, then it is likely that you’re suffering from birth anxiety. Thinking about the birth throughout the day or when you are doing other things is a sign that you might be more worried than is usual. If it’s playing on your mind then it’s time to think about whether or not it’s time to get some help with it.
When it is affecting decisions
There are lots of decisions to make when you are facing childbirth. Where do you want to have the baby? Who do you want with you? And many many more. But if you are suffering from birth anxiety then some of these decisions will be impacted. In the extreme, you might be feeling like an elective c-section is the only way you can contemplate giving birth. Or it might be that you want to have a home birth because you don’t want to be anywhere near a hospital (or vice versa). If there are options which you are ruling out because of fear then you are likely suffering from a significant level of birth anxiety.
If you are having trouble sleeping
We all know that when we are stressed or worried about something, sleep can be somewhat elusive. So it stands to reason that if you are finding it difficult to sleep because you are worrying about the upcoming birth then your anxiety levels are probably fairly high. If your concerns about childbirth are keeping you up at night then it’s likely that you are struggling with birth anxiety.
How do you feel when you think about the birth? Do you feel nervous but generally OK? Or does your heart start racing? Blood pumping? Do you feel sweaty and hot? Nauseous or even vomit? Headaches, breathlessness, tearfulness or tension? Physical anxiety symptoms whenever you think about childbirth generally mean that you are, well, anxious! Normal trepidation won’t lead to physical symptoms so if you have them, it’s probably a sign that you are more anxious than most women.
If you are thinking that the birth isn’t really happening; if you want to pretend that you aren’t as close as you are or if you are trying to avoid doing any planning for the birth then this should be a red flag. Quite simply there really does have to be an end to pregnancy (I mean can you even imagine if it just kept going…) so normally the birth is something welcome, if not a little daunting. If you are wanting to hide your head under a blanket and whisper ‘la la la’ every time anyone asks you what your birth plan is or what you want then perhaps it’s time to consider that your anxiety could be higher than normal and that you should try talking it out.
If in doubt trust your instincts. You are the best person to know whether your anxiety is normal or something that you’d benefit with help for. And the golden rule should be that if you feel like you want support with it, then that is what you should be asking for.
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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