I’ve written a lot about how you can cope with birth anxiety but whilst it’s important for the person suffering to do what they can to deal with it, the people closest to them can help a great deal too. With that in mind, this post is for you to share with your partner or birth partner so they know how best to support you.
Supporting someone with birth anxiety isn’t easy. Their fears might feel irrational or disproportionate. It can be hard to see someone struggling with how they feel. You might feel frustrated that you can’t take away their fears or reassure them and sometimes you can feel powerless to do anything.
Fear not though, there are lots of ways that you can help someone who feels anxious about birth so here are my top 5.
Listen to them
The best way of helping someone with anxiety about birth is to give them the time and space to talk it through. It can be hard to admit that you feel that scared about birth so it’s important to make sure they know you are happy to listen without judgment. They might also need to talk about it more than once. It could feel a little repetitive but just remember that by letting them work through how they are feeling you are allowing them to organise their thoughts and understand them better. It’s time well spent and can make a big difference.
Don’t dismiss it
Depending on how you feel about birth you might not understand why someone is so terrified of it. But it’s really important that you don’t dismiss how they are feeling or try to change their mind. Feelings don’t have to be rational, they sometimes just are what they are and that’s OK. And don’t forget that the way someone feels is based on their past experiences, personality and beliefs. Just because you wouldn’t feel the same in their situation doesn’t make them wrong. Make sure that when you are talking to them you take what they are saying seriously. Because it will be for them.
It can feel very lonely when you are worrying about childbirth. People don’t always understand it and it can be hard to be honest because people can make you feel like you are overreacting or being silly. Even midwives don’t always support someone as much as they could because they see it everyday and don’t always recognise just how much it can affect someone. So if you want to help someone who is feeling anxious about the birth the best thing to do is to show them the you are in their corner. Supporting them and willing to do whatever they need you to. Tell them that you are there for them and that they don’t have to go through it alone.
Encourage them to deal with it
The best person to help someone with birth anxiety is them. But it’s hard work and can feel really overwhelming. Sometimes so much so that it seems easier to just bury our head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening. Which, of course, it is because childbirth is pretty much inevitable once you are pregnant. If you know someone who is worried about birth encourage them to find ways to deal with it. Help them to find resources (including my section on birth anxiety) that will help them understand how they are feeling. Maybe support them to get professional help and definitely be there for them when they need you.
Learn everything you can
This is especially true if you are going to be a birthing partner. The more you know and understand about childbirth the more help and support you will be. Knowing the facts will also help you to provide reassurance and be a better birthing partner. If she knows that you are well informed then she can relax and trust that you will be able to help her in the labour room. She’ll know that you can be an advocate for her and that you will be able to support her to make the right decisions for her.
So there you have it, 5 ways that you can support someone who is feeling worried about giving birth. Most importantly though, be patient, understanding and compassionate. Birth anxiety can be hugely upsetting and frightening so making someone feel emotionally safe outside the labour room will go a long way to helping them to feel emotionally safe in it too.
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